Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras insisted Monday, on the eve of his meeting in Washington with US President Donald Trump, that Greece is bouncing back after seven years of a protracted financial crisis and is strengthening its geostrategic role in the region.
Speaking at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Tsipras said Greece has “returned” and now is the time to further strengthen Greek-American relations through US investments in Greece in tourism, real estate, energy, infrastructure, new technologies and agriculture.
Stressing that Greece is coming out of the woods, Tsipras said that the economy grew by 2 percent in 2017. Greece, he said, has met its primary surplus targets in the last two years and will do the same this year. He added that it was also time that Washington recognized that Greece can be a bastion of stability – on the condition that security concerns in the Aegean and the East Mediterranean are addressed.
Tsipras arrives in Washington early Tuesday morning and is scheduled to meet with International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde after a two-day visit to Chicago, where he met with members of the Greek-American community, American businessmen, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.
With the IMF demanding a speedy conclusion to the third review of the country’s third bailout so that discussions about the key Greek demand of debt relief can start, Tsipras was expected to reassure Lagarde that he is committed to wrapping up negotiations by the end of the year.
Tsipras hopes that, by that time, a government will have been formed in Germany, which will pave the way for the commencement – with IMF help, of the discussion on Greek debt relief.
He is also expected to ask the IMF to clarify if it will remain a part of the Greek bailout, while the question of Greek banks and the issue of nonperforming loans were also expected to feature prominently.
The Greek economy was also discussed by Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and his deputy, Giorgos Houliarakis, during their meetings with the US Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass, who reportedly expressed his support for the IMF’s pressure on European creditors with regard to Greek debt relief.