Practically every newspaper in Greece is reporting that U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Greece November 14-15 as part of his farewell trip of Europe.
The visit to Greece hasn’t been confirmed or denied by White House officials, which never comment on the President’s travels this far in advance.
An official from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs told The Pappas Post that there was indeed planning and preparation for a Presidential visit “in the very early stages” and that confirmation would come once the White House finalized the European leg of his formal farewell tour after eight years as President of the United States.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity since he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter also confirmed that in addition to visiting Athens, Obama may visit the U.S. Naval installation at Souda Bay in Hania, as well as refugee camps on the island of Lesvos.
Greece’s leading daily newspaper Kathimerini suggested that Obama’s visit would coincide with a strong message in support of Greece’s repeated calls for debt relief— something the Obama Administration through its Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, as well as Obama himself, have repeatedly called for.
Obama is also expected to chide European leaders for their handling of the refugee crisis.
At a press conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Obama was critical of Europe’s handling of the crisis, noting that it was unfair for countries like Greece, Italy and Germany to “bear the entire burden.”
Comparing the handling of crises in the United States to those in Europe, such as the arrival of over a million refugees on the continent, Obama said:
“You can’t have a situation where Italy, Greece, Germany are bearing the entire burden. If, in fact, you have a European Union, then you’re unified not just for the benefits but also for the costs. And I do think it is important for Europe collectively to be invested in solving this problem and not just leave it to one country — in the same way that here in the United States, obviously, we’re an actual nation-state as opposed to a union of separate states. But we would not abandon one state and just say, here, you deal with an entire problem and good luck with that. If we have solidarity and benefit from that solidarity on a whole range of issues, then that means you also have joint responsibilities.”