News Column

Greece Reforms Good, Austerity Bad: Obama

August 9, 2013

President Barack Obama on Thursday praised Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for taking "bold and difficult actions" to achieve structural reforms demanded by the European Union and lending agencies.

In their meeting in the Oval Office, Obama made a pitch for the mantra of Washington's economic advisors, saying that too many cutbacks do not develop an economy.

He said the two leaders had agreed that "we cannot simply look to austerity as a strategy."

"It's important that we have a plan for fiscal consolidation to manage the debt, but it's also important that growth and jobs are a focus," Obama said.

Experts from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund kept up another round of pressure on Greek authorities on reform progress. Disbursement of the next aid tranche - the most recent in the three-year-long sovereign debt crisis - was made dependent on progress.

In late July, the Greek Parliament passed a law to place civil servants in a labor mobility plan demanded by the international lenders, fulfilling the final condition for the 5.3-billion-dollar payment.

Samaras said the Greek people had "gone through thick and thin" and made "huge" sacrifices in recent years. He noted the country's unemployment problem, which stands at 28 per cent of the workforce and 60 per cent among young Greeks.

"We are going to do what has to be done as far as structural changes are concerned, but our emphasis has to be on growth and on the creation of new jobs," Samaras said.

Obama said he was "confident" that Samaras was committed to continuing with the structural reforms meant to restore the Greek economy's competitiveness.

The Obama administration has been critical of the EU's insistence on austerity measures in their approach to preventing a eurozone-wide fiscal crisis.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters