US president Obama ends Athens visit with message of hope, ode to democracy

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/11/17 0:17:57

US President Barack Obama ended his two-day visit to Athens on Wednesday with a message of hope for Greek people and an ode to democracy, before departing for Germany, the next stop of his European tour.

Following a tour to the Acropolis Hill and the new Acropolis Museum, Obama delivered one of his final speeches abroad as a sitting US president.

He once again voiced his support to the Greek government's request to international lenders for an imminent debt relief to ensure that the Greek debt load would be sustainable.

He said he hoped Greek citizens' sacrifices in the past seven years would avert default, restore stability and return the country to growth.

"The IMF (International Monetary Fund) has said that debt relief will be crucial to get Greece back to growth. They are right. It is important because if reforms here are to be sustained, people here need to see hope and they need to see progress," he said during the televised address.

The US leader repeatedly made similar remarks on Tuesday during meetings with Greek leaders and in statements to the press.

Athens hopes that his message will help the Greek case in coming weeks in the next round of talks with international lenders.

Young Greeks, in particular, need to know there is a future and jobs that were worthy of their potential, he said, in a country suffering from brain drain in recent years.

"You don't have to travel overseas, you can put roots right here in your home, in Greece, and succeed. And I am confident that if you stay the course, as hard as it has been, Greece will see brighter days," Obama said in his message to Greek people.

Speaking at the birthplace of democracy, the outgoing US president stressed that as long as people across the world retain faith to democracy, the future will be bright.

Democracy remains the most effective form of government ever devised by man, he said. Democracy is stronger than terrorists and extremists who cannot tolerate different ideas, democracies are inclusive, Obama underlined.

When people see hope, they turn their backs on darkness, he added.

Referring to the legacy he is leaving behind as he will hand over the helm of the US presidency to Donald Trump in January, Obama said that one of the priorities of his administration was to address inequalities.

Obama plans to return to Greece next year as a tourist, Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura revealed.

Obama met with Kountoura on Tuesday at a dinner hosted by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos during which he pledged: "You will always have the support and the friendship of the United States, as you work to move the country ahead."


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