Positive Obama statement will boost chances at Eurogroup, officials hope

12 November 2016
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Greek officials are hoping to secure a public expression of support for debt relief from outgoing US President Barack Obama when he visits Athens next week, with government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos on Friday underlining the “extremely significant” role of the US in global economic developments.

“A statement by President Obama is never just a statement, but it’s political pressure so that the issue of debt can be solved,” Tzanakopoulos told a media briefing in Athens Friday.

Tzanakopoulos also emphasized the significance of the fact that US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who has repeatedly called for Greek debt relief, will be accompanying Obama on his visit. Lew’s statements “have gone a great way toward promoting the Greek debt issue,” he said.

Stressing the fact that the current US administration in general has been very supportive of Greece’s calls for debt relief, Tzanakopoulos said, “We believe that the issue of Greek debt will be at the top of the agenda during Mr Obama’s visit to our country.”

Athens hopes that Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos can travel to a scheduled meeting of eurozone finance ministers on December 5 with a concrete statement of support for debt relief from Obama. The US president is to travel to Berlin immediately after his two-day visit to Greece where the Greek debt issue is sure to be one of many issues on a long list of topics topped by the repercussions of Donald Trump’s election victory.

A renewed debate about the prospects of lightening Greece’s debt has been accompanied by speculation about whether the International Monetary Fund will join the Greek program, which has in turn fueled debate about the possible need for a fourth bailout for Greece. Tzanakopoulos categorically ruled out such a prospect.

“There is no intention for new measures or for new structural reforms in the agreement which may transpire if the IMF agrees to fund the Greek program.”

Apart from the debt issue, Cyprus talks, the refugee crisis and Greece’s role in the broader region are expected to be on the agenda of discussions between Obama and Greek government officials.

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