Outgoing US President Barack Obama arrived at the Presidential Mansion in central Athens on Tuesday, where he was welcomed by his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos as a leader who has earned global distinction for “defending humanity, democracy and justice.”
“Our people are bound by historic ties of friendship and cooperation,” Pavlopoulos said in comments to the visiting US president, adding that “I am certain your successor, Donald Trump, will continue on the same path.”
Pavlopoulos stressed three issues in his address to Obama. He called for a swift resolution in Cyprus with guarantees, the need to defend the Lausanne Treaty, as the questioning of any borders is tantamount to “questioning Europe’s borders,” and also made reference to “neighboring states claiming a name” in apparent swipe at Skopje over Athens’s name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
The US president appeared to limit his response to broader issues, touching particularly on the migrant crisis and the need for a united effort.
Obama praised Greece for the “humanitarian and compassionate” manner with which it has dealt with the refugee crisis, while also hailing the progress the country has made with reforms, saying that “we are prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Greek people” in the challenges that lie ahead.
The US president also thanked Greece for its contribution to NATO, saying that the alliance is the “cornerstone of security” and in the fight against terrorism.
Obama ended his comments on a lighter note, saying that he is looking forward to visiting the Acropolis and thanking the Greek people for their hospitality and friendship.