The Obama administration played an important role to make sure Greece remains in the eurozone, former Vice President Joe Biden said. In an interview to newspaper Kathimerini, Biden said that he was personally involved in the issue and described the efforts and difficulties he faced to avoid the financial collapse of Greece.
The Obama administration and you personally also played an important role in making sure that Greece remained a part of the eurozone. Could you describe for us these efforts and the difficulties you faced? Was there a close call when you got very concerned about a Grexit and a destabilized Greece? Do you believe that the risk of a Grexit is gone?
President Obama and I were engaged with all parties in the Greek financial crisis, because we wanted to prevent Greece from experiencing financial collapse. Grexit would have had very serious long-term consequences for Greece and Europe – and could potentially have triggered a wider crisis of confidence in the global economy. We were concerned that in the high-stakes negotiation between Greece and its creditors, failure to reach a sensible agreement would have made all parties much worse off in the end. But because of each side’s desire to secure the best possible terms, this worst-case scenario was a real possibility.
While the ultimate decision was up to the leaders of Greece, the IMF, and the eurozone countries, I think we helped steer the conversation in a more pragmatic direction because of the credibility we had in Athens, Brussels and Berlin. We argued with the creditor countries that Greece had been saddled with an unsustainably high debt burden and that reform would only go so far with such a large debt overhang. At the same time, we encouraged the Greek leadership to think about how to demonstrate to its creditors that it had a credible roadmap for systemic economic reform, which was necessary. While a deal was reached and the worst of the crisis is behind us, we are not yet completely out of the woods. I believe the United States continues to have a role to play in supporting the parties as they move forward with discussions on Greece’s economic future.
Joe Biden spoke also of the importance of “energy diplomacy” after the discovery of natural gas in Cyprus, Israel and Egypt – and the potential for discoveries in Greece and Lebanon.
This is an exciting development that could bring about not only economic prosperity, but also enhance regional security through cooperation, collaboration and integration,” Biden stressing the necessity for a solution of the Cyprus issue.
Full interview here.