Kerry upbeat on energy, refugees

Kerry upbeat on energy, refugees

US Secretary of State John Kerry took a positive view of Greece’s energy policy and its efforts to tackle the refugee crisis during a one-day visit to the country Friday, while he urged Athens to continue on the path of economic reforms.

Sources said that Kerry also emphasized his keenness for the current reunification talks on Cyprus to lead to a historic deal that could be held up as an example in the wider region, which is troubled by conflict.

The US envoy held talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias during his visit. He spoke briefly to the press after his meeting with Kotzias.

“With my visit today, I want to commend the resilience and the warmth of the Greek people,” said Kerry. “As you work your way out of one of the worst economic crises in your history, Greece has opened its doors to refugees and migrants escaping the fighting in Syria and neighboring countries. And the United States is very proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with you as partners and as friends.”

His comment that the refugee crisis “is not solely a Greek crisis, is not solely a European crisis, nor even a Middle East crisis” but a “global crisis for which we must all share responsibility” was warmly welcomed by Kotzias.

“It is a global issue, a global problem,” said Kotzias, adding that a key priority must be to end the war in Syria.

Kerry announced that Washington would provide an extra 24 million dollars via the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help with the refugee crisis. “This new funding will support UNHCR’s activities here in Greece, in the Balkans, and in other immediately impacted parts of Europe.”

The US diplomat also discussed the bailout program with Greek officials and stressed the need for Athens to continue implementing the measures agreed with the country’s creditors in August.

“Obviously, more effort is necessary in the months ahead but I am absolutely confident that Greece’s leaders will continue to implement the reforms that are necessary in order to restore competitiveness, to improve market confidence and to attract responsible investment,” he said.

Kerry linked Greece’s economic recovery with its energy policy and applauded the government’s decision to proceed with the Trans Adriatic Pipeline and the Greek-Bulgaria Interconnector.

“These are very important energy projects, and they will not only strengthen Greece’s economy, but they will help advance regional stability and prosperity,” he said. “And these projects will create, I am confident, new opportunities for US investment in Greece.”

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