President Obama praised Greece’s “extraordinary compassion” in accepting thousands of Syrian refugees despite suffering from economic troubles at home.

“They’ve rightly earned the admiration of the world,” Obama said Tuesday in Athens after a private meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras.

Obama’s push to bring 110,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S. in 2017 has met resistance from congressional Republicans. President-elect Trump has vowed to suspend the flow of immigration from countries that harbor terrorists.

The president acknowledged Greece’s suffering under the tough structural reforms its creditors have forced on the country after it became mirred in debt and financial mismanagement.

“We cannot simply look to austerity as a strategy,” Obama said of the Greek economy. He expressed his belief that the path of economic austerity, which many Greeks have criticized, was the best possible way forward for Greece.

“It’s true that we recovered faster and, frankly, better than most of Europe,” Obama added.

Tspiras thanked Obama for his support during the economic crisis that has forced Greece to accept such strict austerity measures, such as pension reductions and privatization of state assets.

“Greece and the Greek people have recently had to deal with the harshest consequences of the global economic crisis,” Tspiras said.

Obama said he and Tspiras discussed economic “next steps” in their meeting Tuesday, including ways to attract investors to the county and to address the root causes of the meltdown.

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The Greek prime minister expressed his gratitude for Obama’s acknowledgement of the “huge challenges” that Europe faces.

“Otherwise, we will be led backwards” both politically and socially, Tspiras said.

The U.K.’s surprising decision to leave the European Union this summer sent shock waves throughout Europe and prompted some to question the future of the union.

Earlier Tuesday, Obama met with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to NATO. Trump questioned the value of the strategic alliance on the campaign trail.

Speaking to reporters before both meetings, Obama thanked Greece for imparting democratic values on the world and touted the country’s rich history of philosophy and literature.

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“The ideas of ancient Greece helped inspire our founding fathers as they reached for democracy,” Obama said.

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