U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday called on the new Greek government to enact structural reforms in order to win flexibility over its budget. During a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Obama praised Italy’s economic reforms, saying they were a model for Greece. Obama said that Greece needs to improve its tax collection, reduce its bureaucracy and enact more flexible labor practices.
Obama said he told Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in January, after the prime minister was sworn in, that the U.S. would be supportive of “some flexibilities” so Greece can increase investment if the government would show that it is trying to help itself by enacting reforms. Obama did not comment on the tense negotiations underway between Greece and its international creditors over new emergency financing.
Obama denied that he was at odds with Germany over European economic woes, calling German Chancellor Angela Merkel a “great friend and a great ally.” Obama said global demand is weak and all countries need to enact reforms. “What I’ve said to the Europeans is ‘don’t expect that the United States is just going to be the engine [of growth] for everybody,'” Obama said.