6:23 P.M. EST
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Would you join me in thanking the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, for he and his wife’s wonderful hospitality here at the State Department? (Applause.) Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
To Mr. Prime Minister Mitsotakis; your wonderful bride; distinguished members of Congress who are joining us here today; to Ambassador Haris Lalakos; and most especially, on behalf of my wife Karen and I, who have come to love the Greek American community: Welcome to all the great Greek Americans who join us here tonight. (Applause.)
But Prime Minister Mitsotakis, it is a great honor to be a part of America’s welcome, welcoming you back to the United States to celebrate the unbreakable bonds between our country — bonds that have been forged in history and heritage, bonds built on a shared love of freedom, and bonds built between families — Greek families that came to this country and, from the very founding of this nation, have contributed immeasurably to the life of this nation and still represent the core of what binds us together.
As the Secretary just reflected, as the President reflected in the Oval Office with you today, I am proud to report firsthand that, thanks to your leadership and the leadership of President Donald Trump, the bonds between the United States of America and Greece have never been stronger. (Applause.)
Last year alone, our two nations engaged in nearly $3 billion in trade. But it’s not economic exchange that defines us. It’s really a shared philosophy of government. I saw the energy between you and President Trump yesterday in the Oval Office. I saw the friendship between you. And I also saw the common purpose, as Secretary Pompeo just reflected, in President Trump and in you, Prime Minister Mitsotakis. They are two leaders who believe that when you let people keep more of what they earn, when you roll back red tape, when you make government more efficient and you drive low-cost energy, making it available to job creators, economies proposer. And America and Greece are prospering thanks to your leadership and the leadership of President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
Our economy is booming. Unemployment in the United States is at a 50-year low. More Americans are working than ever before. And under your leadership, at a time of slow growth around the world, the unemployment rate in Greece is at its lowest level in more than eight years. And we congratulate you, Mr. Prime Minister. (Applause.)
I can’t help but reflect, in this historic building, about the ties that have always bound our two nations. The Founding Fathers of our country recognized that Americans would be heirs of the achievements of Greek civilization. We would carry the ideals — the love for freedom and democracy — here. It was on a hill in Athens that the world’s first democratic assemblies were gathered more than 2,500 years ago.
And while the Secretary talked about his vacation travels last fall — (laughter) — I can tell you that, before I got this job, Mrs. Pence and I traveled to Athens, spent some time on the Acropolis, and had a lot less company than I have these days. (Laughter.) But we loved being in Greece, and I look forward to the day that I am able to return. (Applause.)
t’s amazing — from that historic past, so carefully cherished and preserved by the Greek people — that, two millennia later, a tiny alliance of people on a distant coast rose up against the world’s strongest empire. To no less extent, they were inspired by the way the Greek people had led a small alliance of cities to stand up for freedom against impossible odds on the plains of Marathon and at the narrow pass of Thermopylae.
They spoke of it. They wrote about it. Our Founding Fathers cherished it. Thomas Jefferson would say, “To the ancient Greeks, we are all indebted for the light which led… [us] out of… darkness.” (Applause.) And, in 1821, when it came time for Greeks to fight for their independence against the odds once again, they inspired a freedom-loving people around the world, including here in America.
It’s no small wonder that a great champion of human freedom — my second-favorite President, Ronald Reagan — (applause) — began the tradition of celebrating Greek Independence Day in the White House. And I’m proud to say that President Donald Trump has continued that tradition for the past three years, and so we always shall. (Applause.)
Our nations share an incredible history. But it really is obvious to me, particularly being in the Oval Office yesterday, seeing the connection between you and President Trump — two energetic leaders with a conviction and a belief in freedom, and a drive to be able to put it into practice to improve people’s lives — that the best is yet to come.
So, on behalf of the American people, in celebration of the economic partnerships, the military partnerships, and the deep heritage between our two nations, allow me to join with all of you to raise a glass. Raise a glass —
PRIME MINISTER MITSOTAKIS: I’ll grab the ouzo, now.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Yeah. I wondered what that was. Let me raise a glass — (laughter) — to — (laughs) — now I know your preference. (Laughter.) Raise a glass to Prime Minister Mitsotakis, to his wonderful wife, to the people of Greece, to Greek Americans, and to the enduring friendship between the United States of America and Greece.
(A toast is offered.)
And now, would you all join me in welcoming Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to the United States of America and the Department of State? (Applause.)