European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday received Greece’s President Prokopios Pavlopoulos during his official visit to Brussels.
Following their meeting , the Greek President and Jean-Claude Juncker attended a working luncheon with the College of Commissioners. This was followed by a joint press conference between the two leaders and attended by European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos.
During the press conference, Juncker said he had been a staunch supporter of Greece’s remaining in the eurozone during the financial crisis, despite many opposing voices, and expressed his admiration for the Greek people’s stance during the crisis.
Greece has made significant reforms, he said, although a lot remains to be done. The budget voted by the Greek parliament on Tuesday night for 2019 is the first budget not dictated by the adjustment programmes, Juncker noted, while he was glad Greece could take advantage of investments totaling 11 billion euros under the Juncker programme.
On his part, Greece’s President thanked Juncker for his support during Greece’s crisis and for being committed to the European Union and ideals. His election to the Commission presidency proved a lifesaving step for the EU’s future: “Throughout your public service you have proven in practical ways that you are a true European,” Pavlopoulos said, as under his term the EU and the eurozone faced its greatest challenges, often without support from its own member-states and their leaders.
Greeks, he said, “will not forget you had the courage to recognise the immense sacrifices of the Greek people on the (adjustment programme) path, and you recognised that the Greek people paid a heavy price for it, even for mistakes not their own.” This, he said, proved Juncker’s long-term friendship with Greece and highlighted his European leadership abilities.