US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday expressed the US government’s strong support for the efforts of the Greek people and the Greek government to overcome the debt crisis, during a press conference following her meeting with Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis.
Their meeting was the first in a round of scheduled meetings between Clinton and Greece’s leadership during her visit to Athens, where she arrived late on Saturday from neighbouring Turkey after attending a meeting of the Contact Group for Libya.
Clinton underlined that the government of Prime Minister George Papandreou had faced tough decisions and expressed Washington’s support for his determination to carry out reforms.
Doing nothing would have far worse consequences than the current difficulties, she added, expressing her faith in the resilience of the Greek people.
“I applaud the Greek government on its willingness to take these difficult steps. Greece has inspired the world before, and I have every confidence that you are doing so again,” she said.
She stressed that the Greek government was on the right path and that the reforms it had carried out were like “chemotherapy” and would make the country more competitive and more attractive to investors.
“I am not here to in any way downplay the immediate challenges because they are real. But I am here to say that we believe strongly that this will give Greece a very strong economy going forward,” Clinton said.
Lambrinidis stressed that the Greece of today is not related to the past image of Greece, while he emphasized the need for European solidarity in order to overcome the crisis. The Greek Foreign Minister also underlined the government’s determination to forge ahead with reforms.
“We believe that we shall emerge victorious out of this difficulty,” he said. “Many, on both sides of the Atlantic, have bet on the collapse of Greece and then have been proven wrong. We will continue to prove them wrong.“
During one-on-one talks lasting half an hour, followed by a meeting between Greek and US delegations, Clinton and Lambrinidis discussed the economic crisis and issues of foreign policy, focusing mainly on the situation in Libya, the Middle East, the western Balkans, the Cyprus issue and Greece’s relations with Turkey.
Concerning the Cyprus issue, Lambrinidis expressed his conviction that progress was possible and had to be striven for, while noting that the necessary political will on Turkey’s part was an essential precondition for success.
Referring to the crisis in Libya, Clinton thanked the Greek government for its willingness to receive Nato force at the naval base in Souda and Athens’ support after the attack on the US Embassy in Damascus. She said the two sides had shared views concerning the process of democratisation in North Africa and welcomed Athens’ stance on the EU accession of the western Balkan countries.
After her meeting with Lambrinidis, the US Secretary of State attended a working dinner with the Greek Prime Minister at his offices. According to government sources, her discussions with Papandreou, covered the economic crisis, foreign policy issues, the problems faced by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, energy issues and the ‘Arab Spring’, as well as Greece’s role in the surrounding region.
There was complete agreement during their meeting, on the need for a comprehensive and effective solution for the crisis in both Greece and in Europe in order to send markets a clear message and deal effectively with speculators.
Subsequently, Mrs. Clinton met with the President of the Republic of Greece, Karolos Papoulias. During the meeting, U.S. Secretary of the State reiterated Washington’s strong support for Greece’s efforts to overcome the debt crisis and her optimism that the country would succeed.
“In spite of the difficult times and tough decisions that had to be taken, Greece is now on a path that is very positive in terms of its future growth and prosperity,” she said.
Noting that some painful sacrifices were necessary, Clinton said she had confidence in the stamina and ingenuity of the Greek people and was in Greece to convey a strong message of support for the difficult work that lay ahead.
President Papoulias, on his part, thanked Clinton and US President Barack Obama for their support towards Greece and for intervening on the country’s behalf with European leaders.
Clinton referred to the strong ties between the two countries, both in the framework of Nato and through the Greek-American community that she said significantly enriched both countries
Mrs. Hilary Clinton then met with Evangelos Venizelos, Minister of Finances and Government vice-president, who stressed the importance of U.S. support in our country’s efforts to handle the crisis.
On the occasion of her visit in Greece, Mrs. Clinton also visited the New Acropolis Museum. In the presence of Minister of Culture, Paul Geroulanos, Greek FM, Stavros Lambrinidis and U.S. Secretary of the State, signed a Cultural Memorandum for Understanding on import restrictions for archaeological finds between the US and Greece.
Source: ANA- MPA