Obama visit raises ex­pec­ta­tions

Be­lea­guered left­ist-led gov­ern­ment awaits boost from out­go­ing US pres­i­dent, who ar­rives in Greece to­day

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

It is clear that to­mor­row’s speech in Athens by US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, who ar­rives in the Greek cap­i­tal to­day for a two-day visit, will be ad­dressed to an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence with the aim of high­light­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ac­com­plish­ments and his own legacy be­fore he leaves of­fice in Jan­uary.

But over and be­yond this, Greece’s left­ist-led gov­ern­ment sees the out­go­ing US pres­i­dent’s visit as an op­por­tu­nity to gain his pub­lic sup­port on a range of is­sues, in­clud­ing its key de­mand for debt re­lief, the Cyprus peace talks, and his en­dorse- ment of Greece’s role in the wider re­gion – within the con­text of the refugee cri­sis, the volatil­ity in the Mid­dle East and its geostrate­gic sig­nif­i­cance vis-a-vis Euro­pean en­ergy se­cu­rity.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Kathimerini on Page 2, Obama sets out the main pa­ram­e­ters of his visit, which in­clude re­gional sta­bil­ity, a com­pre­hen­sive so­lu­tion to the Cyprus prob­lem, the need for Greece to stay the course of re­forms and for it to get “mean­ing­ful debt re­lief.”

The gov­ern­ment is bank­ing its hopes that Obama wants to leave of­fice hav­ing re­solved fun­da­men­tal in­ter­na­tional prob­lems, in­clud­ing Greece’s debt cri­sis.

“He wants to com­plete the eight-year term of his pres­i­dency with so­lu­tions to a host of is­sues con­cern­ing Amer­i­can for­eign and fi­nan­cial pol­icy,” gov­ern­ment spokesman Dim­itris Tzanakopou­los said yes­ter­day, while of­fi­cials in Athens be­lieve that the sur­prise elec­tion of real es­tate mag­nate Don­ald Trump as the 45th US pres­i­dent could ac­tu­ally help Greece achieve its goals. Given that it re­mains un­clear where Trump stands on Greece’s debt and the Cyprus is­sue, Greek of­fi­cials be­lieve this could ac­tu­ally gal­va­nize the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to be­come more proac­tive on both is­sues be­fore his term ends in Jan­uary.

A tan­gi­ble ex­pres­sion of Obama’s sup­port would be his pub­lic en­dorse­ment, dur­ing his visit, of Greece’s de­mand of debt re­lief. This, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials be­lieve, would strengthen the hand of Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos at the up­com­ing and cru­cial Eurogroup on De­cem­ber 5, where he will make Greece’s case.

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