Peres: Greece is coming out of crisis

President expresses confidence that Athens could recover from financial straits.

May 31, 2013 02:28
2 minute read.
Greeks protests austerity measures

Greek protests June 2011 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Greece received a large dose of encouragement in the face of its economic crisis when Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos called on President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Thursday.

“We know that you are going through difficult times,” Peres told him. “When you have an economic crisis, people think it’s the end of the world – but it’s the end of the crisis.”

Peres recalled that on taking office as prime minister in 1984, he had been confronted with an inflation rate of 450 percent. People said it was impossible to get out of the morass, he said, and yet within nine months, inflation was down to 16%. The measures he took made people angry, but in the final analysis, Israel emerged from the crisis and has maintained a manageable inflation rate ever since.

Peres said there were already signs that Greece was coming out of the crisis.

Avramopoulos confirmed this, saying, “We are at the beginning of the end,” but he acknowledged that it would still take time for Greece to make it out of the woods.

When the crisis is finally over, he predicted, the people of Greece will see that their sacrifice was not for nothing.

Meanwhile, the government is doing the best it can and is in the process of changing everything, he continued, adding that while there had been great progress toward the restoration of democracy, it was the government’s duty to change the whole system.

Avramopoulos underscored that the present administration was a coalition, a rare phenomenon in Greek politics.

In welcoming the foreign minister, Peres said he was happy that a new chapter between Greece and Israel had begun, Citing centuries of mutual history, Peres said Greece and Israel were “like two old gentlemen who remind themselves of their youth and come together again.”

Commenting on the similarities in size, age and wealth of both countries, Peres said that nowadays it was not the size of a country that counted, but the people and what they could contribute.

He was pleased that the bilateral agreement between the two countries included cooperation on science and technology and defense.

Both countries believe in peace, said Peres, adding that he was convinced that one day peace would happen.

The two men have met several times over the past 20 years, the first being when Avramopoulos was mayor of Athens.

Israel and Greece have known each other for thousands of years, said Avramopoulos.

“We are embarking on a new beginning for the future,” he said of Greece’s relations with Jerusalem. “Our neighborhood has many routes, and we must work together for peace, stability, solidarity and cooperation.”

Later this year, he said, there will be a high-level bilateral meeting in Israel with the focus on energy, tourism, economy and research.

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