European Council President Herman van Rompuy on Tuesday met Prime Minister George Papandreou in Athens and expressed support to the efforts made by the Greek government to continue with the implementation of the necessary reforms and changes that will lead the country out of the economic crisis.

“The message I am sending is that we support the work done and about to be done," Rompuy said, stressing that reforms are necessary for Greece to become competitive in the future with better economic growth and more job positions. He also noted that the adjustment programme demanded greater sacrifices that should be "made by everybody" considering that justice in the distribution of burden is of major importance. Rompuy also pointed out the need to combat "fraud, red tape and corruption and to reinforce social cohesion”.

He added that changes are inevitable and should have been done earlier but that “Europe is not responsible for that”. Referring to the extension in the repayment period of the 110-billion-euro loan and the interest rate reduction decided by the European leaders on March 11 and 25, he said that it was an “indication of trust toward Greece”.

On his part, PM Papandreou referred to the “tough efforts” made by the people for the implementation of the reforms, stressing that “they begin to give results” and will help restore economic growth.

The PM referred extensively to the implementation of decisions adopted by the European leaders in combination with Portugal’s request for activation of the financial support mechanism, stressing that “there is no room for laxity and we should make Europe stronger to avert such phenomena in the future”.

They also discussed the timetable for the next EU moves before the European Council meeting on June 24 and ways to increase the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) capital by 2013 and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) capital after 2013.

Papandreou and Rompuy referred to the new dimensions of the illegal migration problem in Greece and the greater SE Europe region. Papandreou called for a reinforced FRONTEX and the amendment of the Dublin II Regulation as regards asylum granting, while Rompuy underlined that the “establishment of the aforementioned force constitutes tangible proof of the European solidarity”.

PM Papandreou referred to the crisis in the Arab countries of the Middle East focusing on Libya and reiterated Greece’s firm position in favour of a diplomatic solution, underlining that he supports the political initiatives undertaken within the framework of the UN.

Referring to the nuclear accident in Japan, the premier clarified that “Greece is against the use of nuclear power” and called for strict inspections in nuclear plants that operate or will operate in neighboring countries in the future.