The head of the European Investment Bank has expressed his admiration for Irish people, saying that the country must be the "lighthouse of a return to stable growth" in Europe.
Werner Hoyer made the comment at the announcement of new EIB lending for small businesses here.
AIB is to administer €200m in funding.
Hoyer said that Ireland is leading the way in the European recovery.
"We are admiring the Irish people for the consequences they went through," he said.
"And sometimes the patience, sometimes the lack of patience, which I have full understanding for in this difficult process.
"It was clear to everybody in the European Union, from the beginning, that Ireland must, at the end of the day, must be the lighthouse of a return to stable growth and employment and Europe, and I think that we are on the right track."