EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker arrived in Athens on Tuesday just as the release of 7.5 billion euros in bailout money was being announced for Greece. An upbeat Juncker assessed that Greece is on the right path to exit the crisis and must take ownership of the reforms program it has agreed on with its official lenders.
“Today, Greece is on the right path, the results are encouraging,” he said, speaking to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
“The Greek government, parliament and the Greek people should have real ownership of the programs that are being applied,” he said, adding that this would be a way to keep up the reforms momentum.
A welcoming Tsipras referred to Juncker as a “true friend of Greece and steady champion of the European ideal.” Tsipras pointed to Juncker’s visit as one taking place at a critical time, not so much for Greece, but for Europe.
Juncker and Tsipras also looked at the challenges caused by the refugee crisis. “As an outside observer I cannot know or imagine the burden (Greeks) have had to endure,” said Juncker. “This is why no one should disparage them. I demand respect for the dignity of Greeks.”