During a visit to Greece as part of his ongoing campaign for the European Union’s top post, center-right European People’s Party candidate Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday hailed efforts by Greece’s conservative-led administration to pull the debt-hit nation out of the financial crisis.
“I say to all those who bet against Greece and against Europe: You lost and Greece won. You lost and Europe won,” said Juncker, a former Luxembourg prime minister.
Juncker also praised fellow conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for seeing through the austerity measures which, he said, were putting Greece back on the track of economic growth.
“You have acted responsible. You have done it the hard way. There was no other way. The result is clear: Trust is coming back to Greece. Greece is becoming competitive again,” said Juncker.
Juncker, president of the Eurogroup from 2005 to 2013, was last week challenged by SYRIZA opposition leader Alexis Tsipras during a European Commission candidates’ debate. Tsipras is a candidate of the European Left.
During his visit on Monday, Juncker was shown around the Acropolis Museum by Samaras and inspected an Athens metro construction site.
Juncker also visited the operational office of EU border patrol agency Frontex in Piraeus, where he met with Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias and Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis.
Reports said the ministers briefed Juncker on Greece’s efforts to deal with growing migratory pressures on the EU border.