NEWS

NYC contacts buoy PM

Prime Minister George Papandreou hailed his five-day trip to New York as a success yesterday ahead of his return to Greece after holding a brief meeting with US President Barack Obama. Papandreou told journalists that his meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly had helped both advance Greece’s diplomatic aims and its attempt to convince people across the world that Athens is getting to grips with its economic problems. «We made the most of our presence here at the UN to talk about important issues that affect our country, starting with the economy,» Papandreou said. The Greek premier had a 10-minute meeting with Obama before he left. «You’ve got a tough task but you’re doing well,» said the US president. Papandreou extended an official invitation to Obama to visit Greece with his family. Earlier, Papandreou addressed the 2010 World Leadership Forum hosted by the Foreign Policy Association and used the opportunity to draw attention to the efforts being made by Greece to get its public finances in order. «Greece is a different country today, with a credible government that works with determination in the path of long-term stability and growth,» Papandreou said. «We are undertaking a titanic effort this year to ensure that there is no way Greece will go bankrupt.» The premier said that the investment deal, worth in the region of 5 million euros, which Greece had signed with Qatar a few hours earlier, was evidence of the economic progress the government has been driving. «It is a vote of confidence in our country,» he said. He denied that the scheme would lead to the development of a Las Vegas-type area on Athens’s southern coast. Papandreou also stressed the importance of the meetings that he had with a number of Balkan leaders. «Greece showed that it has a presence in the Balkans,» he said. The Greek prime minister lamented the fact that his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Nikola Gruevski, was not in New York to hold talks on the longstanding name dispute between the two countries. Skopje claimed yesterday that Syria had become the 129th country to recognize it by its constitutional name of Republic of Macedonia.