Greece’s Prime Minister Meeting with Man He Once Called “Evil”

By on October 17, 2017

When President Donald Trump sits for talks Tuesday with his left-wing Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras, he’ll face a man who last year warned his own citizens that Trump represented an “evil” raft of ideas with no place in western democracy.

Now that Trump is President, Tsipras finds himself among the club of world leaders hoping to paper over their election-year criticisms of the billionaire businessman, who is known to carry a grudge and remember even the smallest slight.

In Tsipras, Trump finds a socialist leader whose country has relied on international financial support for years in the face of a crippling debt crisis — a scenario that squares poorly with Trump’s stated views that countries should bear responsibility for their own affairs.

But with the US embroiled in an increasingly bitter standoff with Turkey, Trump finds a willing security partner in Athens at a moment of deep regional instability. And despite its financial woes, Greece is one of the few NATO members that meets the alliance’s defense spending threshold — an issue Trump has litigated vociferously.

The White House said ahead of the visit that Trump and Tsipras would discuss defense and economic issues, as well as energy security and the cultural ties between Americans and Greeks.

They’ll also take questions from reporters following their meeting, where Tsipras’ past comments about his now-counterpart could arise. During a speech in March 2016, the prime minister expressed disbelief that Trump could even be elevated as the status-bearer of the Republican party.

“Tell me who of you would believe a few months ago that in the US today, the front-runner on behalf of the Republicans for the nomination of the candidate President would be Mr. Trump?” Tsipras asked. “And, of course, what this nomination marks, the ideas it represents, the appeal it reaches and the threat to become even President — I hope we will not face this evil.”

Later, during then-President Barack Obama’s visit to Athens during his final foreign trip last November, Tsipras struck a more conciliatory note toward Trump.

“To be honest, I know very little of Donald Trump. I got to know his aggressive manner and the manner in which he defended some unconventional points of view during the election period,” he said during a news conference held several days after Trump’s victory.

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