NEW: Barack Obama, Angela Merkel discuss European economy
The European Union president says Europe didn't come to be lectured
Obama expresses optimism over the Greek election results
Concrete agreements out of the G-20 Summit are unlikely
U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday welcomed the results of the Greek election as he prepared to join other world leaders at a summit aimed at boosting a sluggish global economic recovery.
Officially, the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, will largely focus on one of the primary causes of the recovery’s lethargy – the threat of a European currency collapse that would roil the already fragile economies of most of the 17 countries that use the euro.
“The world is concerned about the slowing of growth that has taken place,” Obama said Monday before the start of the summit, following one-on-one-talks with host President Felipe Calderon of Mexico. “A lot of attention has been centered on Europe. Now is the time, as we’ve discussed, to make sure that all of us join to do what’s necessary to stabilize the world financial system, to avoid protectionism, to ensure that we are working hand-in-hand to both grow the economy and create jobs while taking a responsible approach long term and medium term towards our fiscal structures.”
However, the summit was not expected to produce concrete commitments, and European Union President Jose Manuel Barroso made clear Monday that European nations were not there to be lectured on how to proceed.
“This crisis was not originated in Europe. … This crisis was originated in North America,” Barroso said. “And many of our financial sectors were contaminated by – how can I put it – unorthodox practice from some sectors of the financial market. But we are not putting the blame on our partners. What we are saying is let’s work together when we have a global problem like the one we have today. “
He called for the G-20 leaders to back steps the European Union is taking, such as possible further bailouts of struggling economies such as Greece and Spain.
“Frankly, we are not coming here to receive lessons in terms of democracy or in terms of how to handle the economy because the European Union is a model that we may be very proud of,” Barroso said. “We are not complacent about the difficulties. We are extremely open. I wish that all our partners were so open about their own difficulties.”
As usual for any summit, Obama also has bilateral meetings with other leaders, including his first face-to-face talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Putin recently returned to the post after serving as prime minister.