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Juncker concedes mistakes in Greek bailout

Luxembourg's premier on second day of visit to Athens

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Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday said that the EU and the IMF had been 'overly optimistic' in the early stages of the Greek bailout, but noted that despite mistakes, 'the main goal was accomplished'. Juncker, who is on a two-day visit in Athens, met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and President Karolos Papoulias and was awarded with the highest state honour

Luxembourg Prime Minister and former Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker gestures as he gives a speech in Athens' Megaron concert hall, 10 June 2013 (AFP) Luxembourg Prime Minister and former Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker gestures as he gives a speech in Athens' Megaron concert hall, 10 June 2013 (AFP) Luxembourg's Prime Minister and former Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday said that the IMF and the EU made mistakes in Greece's bailout.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Juncker, who played a central role in the 2010 bailout through his role as Eurogroup president, said that the European Union and the International Monetary Fund had been "overly optimistic" in the early stages of the bailout process.

He did note however that “despite mistakes, the main goal was accomplished”.

Juncker's statement follows last week's admission from the IMF that “notable failures” were made in Greece's bailout, causing a fallout between the fund and the European Commission, which firmly disagreed with the IMF's criticism.

Juncker, who stepped down as the Eurogroup president earlier in the year, met with Samaras on Tuesday morning as part of a two-day official visit to Athens.

"He is doing an excellent job – we are brothers," Juncker said in the run-up to the visit, adding: "Greece is moving in the right direction”.

Grand Cross

Later in the day Luxembourg's president was awarded by President Karolos Papoulias with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer, the highest order of merit of the Greek state.

The Grand Cross has in the past been awarded to Greek and foreign monarchs, such as Queen Elisabeth II and Greek-born Prince Philip, as well as revolutionaries of the Greek war of independence, including Theodoros Kolokotronis, Andreas Miaoulis and Konstantinos Kanaris.

According to the website of the presidency, the cross is usually awarded to heads of state.

On Monday the former Eurogroup chief gave a lecture at the Megaron concert hall entitled "Euro: a review and its perspective", during which he expressed his full support for Greece and criticised northern European countries, politicians and media for speaking negatively about the country.

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