Strong Europe ‘good’ for the US, NATO ‘vital’: Obama
ATHENSA strong and unified Europe is “good” for the United States and NATO is “absolutely vital” for U.S. security and prosperity, U.S. President Barack Obama said Nov. 15 as he launched his final European trip.
“We believe a strong, prosperous and unified Europe is not only good for the people of Europe but good for the world, and good for the United States,” Obama told Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos in Athens, according to Agence France-Presse.
Obama is looking to calm the nerves of allies concerned by Donald Trump’s shock presidential election victory, especially as the brash Republican has downplayed the importance of the NATO military alliance.
The trans-Atlantic relationship is “the cornerstone of our mutual security as well as prosperity,” Obama said.
Obama stressed that NATO “is something that provides significant continuity even as we see a transition of government in the United States.”
“Across Democratic and Republican administrations there is a recognition that the NATO alliance is absolutely vital,” he said.
Pavlopoulos, for his part, thanked Obama for U.S. support of the Greek people in a time of social and economic crisis, and said he was confident that Trump “will continue on the same path.”
Obama also said he would press upon European allies his view that austerity alone “cannot deliver prosperity.”
“In my message to the rest of Europe I will continue to emphasize our view that austerity alone cannot deliver prosperity,” Obama told Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Nov. 15.
Tsipras, who signed a hugely unpopular bailout agreement with the European Union last year, is anxious for a new U.S. pledge to help alleviate the country’s enormous public debt.
Obama said that it was “important” to help the Greeks with debt relief and other strategies.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was party to two prior Greek rescues in 2010 and 2012, has refused to join the third bailout without debt relief.
But Germany, which holds elections next year, is strongly opposed to the idea.
Obama is making the first visit to Greece by a sitting U.S. president since Bill Clinton in 1999. Security was tight, with major roads shut down along Obama’s motorcade route and a ban on public gatherings and demonstrations in swaths of central Athens and a southern suburb near a seaside luxury hotel where Obama was staying. Boats were also banned from sailing near the coastline at the hotel’s location.
On Nov. 16, Obama is set to travel to Germany, where he will speak with close ally Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as the French and British leaders.
He will conclude his trip with a stop in Peru for a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) where he is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.