US President Barack Obama visiting Athens on Tuesday has backed Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ call for a restructuring of Greek debt.
In a friendly meeting the two leaders also discussed the refugee crisis, Turkey, and prospects for resolving problems in Cyprus.
On the issue of Greek debt, Alexis Tsipras said that after seven years the Greek economy and Greek society could not bear any more austerity.
In his turn Barak Obama said: “As Greece continues its reforms, the IMF has said that debt relief is crucial, I will continue to urge creditors to take the steps needed to put Greece on a path towards a durable economic recovery, because it is in all of our interests that Greece succeeds.”
The US and the International Monetary Fund have long argued for Greek debt to be restructured This call has, however, met with resistance from within the European Union, particularly Germany, whose banks would bear the brunt of the risk.
President Obama also used the occasion to underline the continuing importance to the US of its global partnerships, particularly within NATO. This will have been reassuring for European countries, which have been concerned by Donald Trump’s seemingly isolationist stance.
However, commentators have been quick to question the influence of the outgoing US President, noting that he is no longer able to make commitments on behalf of his country without first consulting his successor. It is not yet clear whether Donald Trump will accept any suggestions made to him.
Euronews correspondent Stamatis Giannisis concluded: “Had Hillary Clinton won last week’s presidential election, Barack Obama’s visit to Athens could have served well as a political bridge between the next US administration and the left wing Greek government. But with Donald Trump as the next resident of the White House, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will need to seek other channels of communication with Washington DC for a host of matters, including the reduction of the Greek debt.”