Obama aim­ing to make last­ing im­pres­sion with Athens speech

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama is plan­ning to de­liver what Amer­i­can of­fi­cials have de­scribed to Kathimerini as a “legacy speech” when he vis­its Athens on Novem­ber 15.

Although the de­tails of the pres­i­dent’s trip have not been fi­nal­ized, of­fi­cials in Washington in­di­cated that Obama in­tends to make a state­ment that res­onates when he comes to Greece. One of­fi­cial likened it to the his­toric speech de­liv­ered by John F. Kennedy when he vis­ited Ber­lin in 1962.

Obama is ex­pected to make ex­ten­sive ref­er­ences to democ­racy and how it has en­dured in Greece de­spite its re­cent prob­lems. The US pres­i­dent is also due to high­light the need for Athens to re­ceive debt re­lief and for the Greek govern­ment to per­sist with struc­tural re­forms. Obama is ex­pected to tread care­fully on the is­sue of debt so that his com­ments do not ap­pear as an at­tack on Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, who he con­sid­ers an im­por­tant part­ner and who he will be vis­it­ing af­ter his trip to Athens.

Sources said that the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent’s speech will also con­tain a mes­sage for Turkey.

Obama wants to draw at­ten­tion to the refugee cri­sis dur­ing his visit to Greece but due to se­cu­rity con­cerns a visit to the is­land of Lesvos has been ruled out. There is, how­ever, a pos­si­bil­ity that he will visit a refugee camp in At­tica.

It is not yet known who will ac­com­pany the Amer­i­can leader on his visit but the im­pres­sion is that First Lady Michelle Obama will not ac­com­pany him on the trip. There has been no fi­nal de­ci­sion on whether Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Jack Lew will also travel to Athens. It is con­sid­ered likely that As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Euro­pean and Eurasian Af­fairs Vic­to­ria Nu­land and Spe­cial En­voy for In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Af­fairs Amos Hochstein will be part of the team that will fly to Greece from Washington.

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