Papandreou in Washington
Greece now part of the US visa waiver program
The Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou, spent two days in Washington last week meeting with US President Barack Obama and other senior figures in his administration.
While he was in the US national capital the Greek Prime Minister found US understanding regarding proposals on the handling of profiteers and secured the visa waiver for Greek citizens visiting the United States.
Mr Papandreou expressed his absolute satisfaction over the results of his meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House.
“I briefed President Obama on the state of the economy in our country and on the determination that we showed in taking difficult measures,” Papandreou said.
Mr. Obama did not directly mention the financial problems in Greece, but said the United States will stand by its ally.
“Now, like his father and his grandfather before him, the prime minister is leading Greece through challenging times,” said President Obama. “But as I told him during our meeting in the Oval Office today, whether in good times or in bad times, the people of Greece will always have a friend and a partner in the United States of America.”
“We’re not asking for a bailout, we’re not asking for financial help from anyone,” Papandreou told reporters.
“What we are doing is first of all revamping our own economy. We are taking measures to put our economy on the right path.”
He said that as a result of the institutional changes being promoted by his government, not only in the economy but in other sectors also such as education, health and public administration, Greece is entering a course of sustainable growth and is becoming competitive and attractive.
The Greek Prime Minister stressed that he briefed the US president on his and other European leaders’s initiative such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarcozy and eurozone president Jean Claude Juncker that aims at confronting profiteers and restoring Greece’s image in international markets.
President Obama had responded positively to European initiatives to curb market speculation, according to Mr Papandreou.
The issue will be “high on the agenda” at the next meeting of the Group of 20 nations, he said.
President Obama also acknowledged the administration’s announcement that Greece has been added to a list of countries whose citizens do not need visas for tourist visits to the United States.
“Greece’s participation in the visa waiver program will strengthen security in both our countries,” he said. “And whether it is to do business or to visit family and friends, it will now be easier for our Greek friends to visit the United States.”
The Oval Office meeting came after the Greek Prime Minister met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and delivered a speech to the Brookings Institution on Monday.
Hillary Clinton offered the State Department’s backing to the Greek Government’s efforts and accepted the suggestion by Mr Papandreou for the US and the other major economies to discuss the need to improve auditing apparatuses in markets during the next G20 summit.
Papandreou and Clinton also discussed developments on the issue of Cyprus, the Balkans and NATO operations in Afghanistan.
In a joint press conference, Clinton stressed, “Greece’s leading and strategic role in the Balkans” and praised the initiatives of Papandreou in the diplomatic field and on the issue of Greek-Turkish relations.
In the press conference, Hillary Clinton suggested that as Greece is the birthplace of democracy, it should receive a royalty payment every time there is a successful parliamentary election. Mr Papandreou quipped that “It would help my deficit too” to which Mrs Clinton responded that “It’s a new way of plugging the hole.”
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