Samaras in Brussels: Greek EU presidency one of opportunity, not crisis

Based on an agenda whose key priorities include job creation, monetary union, the fight on illegal immigration and Europe’s maritime policy, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Wednesday that the upcoming Greek European Union presidency would be one of “opportunities, not a presidency of crisis.”

The comments were made during a joint conference with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, following a meeting between a Greek government delegation and the EU’s 28-member College of Commissioners.

The meeting, also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, among other top Greek officials, was part of Greece’s preparation for the rotating presidency which begins on January 1.

“Greek people have made immense, incredible sacrifices to get us here,” said Samaras adding that the structural changes carried out in the country were necessary to implement irrespective of the crisis if Greece wants to become more competitive.

Speaking on progress of talks between Greece and its lenders, collectively known as the troika, Samaras appeared optimistic that negotiations had not reached an “impasse” and that a compromise would be reached before the end of the year.

Calling the Brussels meeting “constructive,” Barroso said that he appreciated “the determination shown by the Greek citizens and authorities during this difficult time” and noted that the country was “in the last miles of the marathon.”

Next year will be crucial time for Europe as key legislation will be finalized ahead of the European Parliament elections, Barroso said, adding that the upcoming Greek presidency’s priorities would allow EU members to “sail together for sustainable growth and job creation.”

Barroso also said that the country’s six month leadership would also have a role to play in boosting trade.

“Europe would not be Europe today without Greece,” said Barroso, highlighting the southern Mediterranean country’s past but also its current efforts to overcome its debt crisis and ongoing recession.

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