Here in Greece, you’re undergoing similar transformations. The first step has been to build a foundation that allows you to return to robust economic growth. And we don’t need to recount all the causes of the economic crisis here in Greece. If we’re honest, we can acknowledge that it was a mix of both internal and external forces. The Greek economy and the level of debt had become unsustainable. And in this global economy, investment and jobs flow to countries where governments are efficient, not bloated, where the rules are clear. To stay competitive, to attract investment that creates jobs, Greece had to start a reform process.
Of course, the world, I don’t think, fully appreciates the extraordinary pain these reforms have involved, or the tremendous sacrifices that you, the Greek people, have made. I’ve been aware of it, and I’ve been proud of all that my administration has done to try to support Greece in these efforts. (Applause.) And part of the purpose of my visit is to highlight for the world the important steps that have been taken here in Greece.
Today, the budget is back in surplus. Parliament passed reforms to make the economy more competitive. Yes, there is still much more work to do. I want to commend Prime Minister Tsipras for the very difficult reforms his government is pursuing to put the economy on a firmer footing. Now, as Greece works to attract more investment, and to prevent old imbalances from re-emerging, and to put your economy on a stronger foundation, you’ll continue to have the full support of the United States.
At the same time, I will continue to urge creditors to take the steps needed to put Greece on a path towards sustained economic recovery. (Applause.) As Greece continues to implement reforms, the IMF has said that debt relief will be crucial to get Greece back to growth. They are right. It is important because if reforms here are going to be sustained, people need to see hope, and they need to see progress. And the young people who are in attendance here today and all across the country need to know there is a future — there is an education and jobs that are worthy of your incredible potential. You don’t have to travel overseas, you can put roots right here in your home, in Greece, and succeed. (Applause.)