EU's Barroso to visit Greece on Thursday: spokesman

AFP , Tuesday 24 Jul 2012

Jose Manuel Barroso will visit Greece for first time in three years, coming at a time when the eurozone crisis deepens

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso will visit Greece on Thursday for the first time since the beginning of the crisis for talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, a commission spokesman said Tuesday.

"The purpose of the meeting is to meet Mr Samaras and discusss the overall economic situation in Europe and in particular in Greece," said Alejandro Ulzurrun de Asanza y Munoz.

Though it will be Barroso's first visit to Athens since June 2009, the spokesman insisted it was "a regular meeting" and that the preparation for the talks had been "under discussion for some time."

Pressed for more details on what message Barroso would convey, he reiterated that there would be "a discussion on the economic situation."

The meeting will take place at 1430 GMT (1730 local time) on Thursday, according to the Greek prime minister's official programme.

The visit comes as the eurozone crisis darkens and as the so-called troika of international auditors— from the International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank—return to Greece to check the debt-ridden country's progress under an international bailout programme.

Sources close to the Greek government claim that Barroso's sudden visit at a crucial time for Europe is a message of "solidarity and support" to the country.

On Monday, the IMF reiterated its backing for Greece, saying in a brief statement that "the IMF is supporting Greece in overcoming its economic difficulties."

The global lender said it was responding to a number of news queries following a report by the German news magazine Der Spiegel on Greece.

Der Spiegel reported that Greece had fallen behind with its budget cuts and was asking for more time to meet the conditions of the 130-billion-euro ($157.5 billion) IMF-European Union aid package.

Short link: