US President Barak Obama arrived in Athens on Tuesday bringing a message of support and hope as he had pledged ahead of his visit from the White House: austerity does not bring prosperity, and the young must have equal opportunities, he said after meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
“Despite the difficulties the country is still standing,” Tsipras said welcoming Obama to Maximos Mansion. “We hope that the labors of the people will soon pay off and that important issues during the negotiations on the debt crisis will proceed on a positive note.”
The outgoing US president underlined that for there to be sustainable development there must be meaningful debt relief.
Obama also expressed his gratitude to the Greek people for their ongoing efforts in the refugee crisis and stressed the need for a long-term solution to the issue, adding that it “does not affect one single nation” but must involve cooperation on all fronts and by all countries.
“I look forward to visiting the Acropolis,” Obama said concluding his talks with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, adding that it should be a vital part of anyone’s visit to Greece.
In a news conference alongside PM Tsipras, Obama referred to Greece as a “reliable ally” in its commitment to NATO, even under tremendous strain from the country’s debt crisis.
“We are proud to count Greece as one of our closest allies and one of our greatest friends,” Obama said.
Meanwhile, security measures across Athens are massive with more than 3,000 Greek police officers and some 300 US agents on duty. The US president was set to deliver a speech at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) and will depart from Athens on Wednesday.
Obama’s Greece visit is part of his last overseas trip as US president and will include stops in Germany, where he will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Peru.