Greece is facing great economic challenges. The United States, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, stands with the Greek people as a friend and ally and strongly supports the government's efforts to make the necessary reforms to put Greece back on sound financial footing. Committing to bring down the deficit and passing the medium-term fiscal strategy, said Secretary Clinton, were vital first steps. Those acts of leadership will help build a better economic future for Greece.
The challenge for Greece now will be to keep moving forward with the same commitment to make good on the fiscal targets and continue to deliver reform that drives future growth. In many cases, these changes will require immediate and sustained implementation. The price of inaction would have been far higher in the future. The steps ahead will not be pain-free, Secretary Clinton acknowledged, but there is a path forward to restore Greece's economic stability and to restore Greece's economic strength. And so what the United States believes Greece must do now is bring its economy back to health. In that effort, Secretary Clinton stressed, Greece will have the full support of the United States.
In addition to economic issues, Secretary Clinton discussed the longstanding strategic partnership between the United States and Greece. She thanked Greece for its commitment to that relationship, and the support it has provided through NATO in Libya, as well as to its contributions in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
During the visit, the U.S. and Greece also signed an important cultural preservation agreement that will protect Greece's cultural heritage by strengthening collaboration to reduce looting and trafficking of antiquities. Under the agreement, it will become illegal to import protected items into the United States.
During her stay in Athens, Secretary Clinton emphasized that the United States and Greece are bound together not just by shared challenges, but by shared values. That's why the United States stands by the people and government of Greece as they put their country back on a path to economic stability and prosperity.