President Obama Outspoken on US-Greece Relations, Warns on Populist Movements


Time: 5:14 p.m. CEST Update: 10:50 p.m. CEST

The economy, post-presidential election period in the United States, migration and Cyprus issues dominated at the talks and the news conference of President Barack Obama and Greece’s Prime minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens. President Obama arrived in Greece on Tuesday during his final presidential foreign trip to Europe and Peru. At the common news conference with Tsipras, Greek prime minister praised the role of Obama in preserving the eurozone and cohesion of Europe.

Tsipras addressed Obama as having important “role and the contribution, moral and political support to find political solution to economic crisis, to keep the country in the eurozone and to maintain the cohesion of Europe.”

Obama talked about hardships Greece’s economy is passing on its way to recovery and said that as the recovery continues, Greek people will prosper and that would be good for the world. Obama explained that U.S. economic recovery was faster than those in Europe. “We recovered faster and batter than most in Europe,” Obama said. But, also it urge Greece to make structural reforms. “Greek economy should go through structural reforms, Obama said. The president also expressed his point of view that we cannot look “at the austerity as a strategy.”

Obama praised Tsipras for housing the children migrants and unaccompanied children. Obama confirmed, he and Greek Prime minister Tsipras discussed Cyprus and importance of finding solution to the issue.

English edition of Khatimerini, ekathimerini.com writes that Obama brought “reassuring words in Greece about the U.S. commitment to NATO, even as he prepares to hand off to a Donald Trump administrations alike recognizing the importance of the alliance to the Trans-Atlantic relationship.”

Obama met with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, ekhatimerini.com writes and said President Obama said to Pavlopulos, that “a strong NATO is of ‘utmost importance’ and ‘would provide’ significant continuity even as we see a transition in government in the United States.”

Obama responded to several correspondents questions, mostly focused on Donal Trump election as next president of the United States. Obama used the podium to address more global issue and to say that he do believes, “separate and apart from any particular election or movement, that we are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude sort of nationalism or ethnic identity or tribalism that is built around an “us” and a “them.”

The President said he would never apologize that “the future of humanity and the future of the world is going to be defined by what we have in common as opposed to those things that separate us and ultimately lead us into conflict.”

Obama cited European history of the 20th century bloodbath. “And for all the frustrations and failures of the project to unify Europe, the last five decades have been periods of unprecedented peace, growth and prosperity in Europe, ” Obama said. He mention that U.S. knows what “happens when we start dividing ourselves along lines of race or religion or ethnicity.”

Obama blamed globalization for creating economic turbulences and effects to local population and local economies, which resulted in creation of populist movements.

“And there is no doubt that that has produced populist movements, both from the left and the right, in many countries in Europe.  When you see a Donald Trump and a Bernie Sanders — very unconventional candidates — have considerable success, then obviously there’s something there that’s being tapped into,” Obama said.

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