For Immediate Release
President Obama Says Greece Needs "Growth Strategy," Criticizes Austerity
WASHINGTON - President Obama criticized Greek austerity programs in an interview that aired on CNN on Sunday. The United States President said: “You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression.” Obama called on all sides to compromise and argued, "when you have an economy that is in a free fall there has to be a growth strategy and not simply the effort to squeeze more and more out of a population that is hurting." His comments follow French Finance Minister Michel Sapin's call for a "new contract" between Greece and Europe. The anti-austerity Syriza party won Greece's elections and is seeking to renegotiate Greek debt. Greece is the third-most indebted country in the world.
"Austerity simply doesn't work," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious financial reform organization Jubilee USA. "I think President Obama and French leaders understand there needs to be an alternative."
Mr. Sapin met Sunday with Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and said Europe should review austerity policies within the Eurozone. The French minister said Europe should also discuss Greece's debt situation and he and President Obama both called on Greece to make internal reforms. Greece began a series of austerity measures in 2010 as part of its emergency loan from the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Union. Since 2010, Greek unemployment doubled and the country lost 400,000 jobs in 2012. The Greek economy contracted every fiscal quarter for five years.
"Because of debt and austerity policies, Greece's economy and people are hurting," noted LeCompte. "There is growing consensus for rethinking these issues."
Read more about Greece's election and austerity policies.