Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis in Athens, Greece, on July 17, 2011. The Secretary and her counterpart discussed ongoing efforts in the NATO coalition operations in Libya, the situation in Syria, and shared challenges.
Secretary Clinton said, "...I am pleased to be here during these challenging times to demonstrate unequivocally the strong support that the United States has for Greece. We know that we are your friend and we are your ally and we are proud to be both. We stand by the people and Government of Greece as you put your country back on a path to economic stability and prosperity.
"It is, for us, essential because we have a lot riding on our relationship together. As a NATO ally, we appreciate Greece's partnership on a shared agenda that spans the globe. The foreign minister and I have just completed a very productive conversation, not just about Greece's immediate challenges but about the full range of issues that form the core of our enduring alliance. We discussed our ongoing efforts in the NATO coalition operations to protect civilians and help the Libyan people claim a better future. Our diplomatic and military efforts are gaining momentum, and we are grateful for Greece's engagement and support, especially your willingness to host coalition military assets at Souda Bay and other sites close to Libya.
"We also are concerned about what's going on in Syria, and we have condemned the violence. And I appreciate Greece's support in speaking strongly against the attack on our Embassy and the French Embassy in Damascus. We will work together as part of the international community to support a vision for a Syria with representative government, respect for civil liberties, equal protection for all citizens under the law.
"We will also continue to work with Greece to support democratic transitions across the Middle East and North Africa. We commend the Greek Government for seeking a constructive approach in consultation with the United Nations to addressing the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza and working to avoid the risks that come with attempts to sail directly to Gaza.
"At a moment when domestic issues are rightly taking center stage here in Greece, we remain grateful for Greece's continued engagement in meeting the shared challenges we confront. I appreciate the work that Prime Minister Papandreou and the government are doing to resolve many longstanding issues and integrate the Western Balkans into European and transatlantic institutions.
"Now, of course, Greece and the United States are bound together by far more than our shared challenges. We are bound together by our shared values. In fact, we are grateful for Greece's contribution to those values and their enduring legacy. Millions of Americans claim Greek ancestry, and last year President Obama was pleased to welcome Prime Minister Papandreou to the White House to celebrate Greece's entry into our Visa Waiver Program. That makes it easier for Greeks to visit family and friends in the United States. And later today, as the minister said, we will be signing a cultural preservation agreement to make it more difficult for looters and smugglers to make that same trip carrying Greece's historic treasures. That will protect tourism and ensure that the remarkable cultural heritage of this country remains in the hands of the Greek people.
"And finally let me say just a few words about the economic situation in Greece. Americans know these are difficult days, and again, we stand with you as friends and allies. The United States strongly supports the Papandreou's government's determination to make the necessary reforms, to put Greece back on sound financial footing, and to make Greece more competitive economically. Committing to bring down the deficit and passing the medium-term fiscal strategy were vital first steps. We know these were not easy decisions. They were acts of leadership. And those acts of leadership will help to build a better economic future.
"Now the challenge will be to keep moving forward with the same determination and commitment to make good on the fiscal targets and continue to deliver reform that drives future growth. Now, in many cases, these changes will require immediate and sustained implementation. And while the payoff for these sacrifices may not come quickly, it will come. We know that. We can look around the world and point to successful examples. And we also know that the price of inaction would have been far higher now and far into the future. The steps ahead will not, they cannot, be pain-free, but there is a path forward to resolve Greece's economic stability and to restore Greece's economic strength. I have faith in the resilience of the Greek people and I applaud the Greek Government on its willingness to take these difficult steps. Greece has inspired the world before, and I have every confidence that you are doing so again. And as you do what you must to bring your economy back to health, you will have the full support of the United States.
"And so again, Minister, thank you for this opportunity to visit with you and thank you also for this chance to express from my heart our strong support for what Greece and particularly the Greek people are facing, but also to reiterate our confidence that this will be the path forward that will pay off, not only now but for generations to come."
You can read Secretary's remarks here.