The outgoing president will be in Athens on Tuesday and Wednesday, and will meet with government officials to discuss among other things ways for Greece to be given “meaningful debt relief” in efforts to offer the Greek people hope.
“I am a strong believer that to make reforms sustainable, people need hope,” he told Greek daily Kathimerini.
Obama is the fourth US leader to visit Greece and the Tsipras government is betting on a strong message of support, which could facilitate talks with eurozone finance ministers in the coming weeks.
Upon his arrival on Tuesday, Obama will meet with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, followed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Security measures, meanwhile, are massive with more than 3,000 Greek police officers and some 300 US agents on duty. Indicatively, Obama will be accompanied by a 770-member delegation.
Security forces fear demonstrations and riots as Obama’s visit coincides with the Greece’s November 17 commemoration of the Athens Polytechnic uprising in 1973.
Furthermore, due to safety concerns, President Obama’s speech at the ancient site of Pnyka will instead take place at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC).
“I have strongly supported efforts to keep Greece in the eurozone because I share the view of the vast majority of Greeks that this outcome is in Greece’s best interest,” he told Kathimerini.
“That is why I will continue to urge Greece’s creditors to take the steps needed to ensure the country is well placed to return to robust economic growth, including by providing meaningful debt relief.”
After departing from Athens, Obama is set to travel to Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel late on Wednesday.