NEWS

On Athens visit, Juncker appears upbeat about Greek recovery

TAGS: EU, Politics, Diplomacy

In a speech before Greece’s Parliament on Thursday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker expressed optimism about Greece’s economic recovery and called on its European partners to honor pledges for debt relief.

Juncker praised the fiscal adjustment Greece has achieved but appealed to the government to continue reforms and not waste “all the hard work that has been done.” Action must be taken to tackle the “ailments that have cost your country so dearly,” he said, stressing the need for “healthy banks” and a crackdown on corruption. In return for reforms, however, Greece’s European partners must “honor their commitments regarding debt measures,” he said.

Earlier in the day, following talks with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, when he declared that Greece was his "second home," Juncker said there would be no precautionary credit line following Greece’s scheduled exit from its third international bailout in August. “Before the end of the summer, Greece will be a normal country, like the rest of the countries in the eurozone.”

He said the final bailout review should be completed quickly so “we can focus our attention on the debt.”

According to sources, Tsipras’s talks with Juncker focused on the post-bailout situation Greece is likely to face.

In his speech in Parliament, Juncker also addressed Greek-Turkish relations and the refugee crisis. “We can’t leave Greece to handle the refugee issue on its own,” he said.

Juncker also called on Ankara to release two Greek soldiers who have been in a Turkish prison since early March and to stop its illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean. “The Greek soldiers in Turkey must be freed and the country must respect international law,” he said.

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamid Gul responded to the comments on Turkish television, declaring that “no one can give orders to Turkish justice.”

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