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PM Papandreou`s interview with Newsweek

Greece will decide whether or not to activate the EU-IMF support mechanism within the next few weeks, Prime Minister George Papandreou said in an interview with Newsweek magazine, on April16. 
Papandreou said that the aid package was not a programme for rescuing the Greek economy but would give Greece some “breathing space” in which to carry out necessary reforms, giving the government room to manoeuvre as it embarks on changes that would make the economy sustainable:
“We’re not looking for scapegoats. These are problems of our own making. Markets, however, take a snapshot of the day, projecting it onto the future. It’s difficult for them to evaluate the changes we are making: changes in mentality, changes in our political culture. That may take some time for the markets to realize. But we need a period of calm to make these changes happen. We just passed a new tax law, for example, that is a major revolution in our country. It’s more just and transparent, and it will target tax evaders. This will help slash our deficit. Those numbers are bound to come down”.

Lecture of the writer Theodor Kallifatides at the University of Warsaw (26/3/2010)

The writer Theodor Kallifatides, visiting Warsaw in order to participate at the Conference “Literature and Immigration”, hold a lecture at the University of Warsaw on the 26th March.
The lecture was attended by the students of Modern Greek Philology at the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies “Artes Liberales”.
The Greek writer spoke about his life and his decision to immigrate in Sweden, where he lives for the last 45 years. He referred, also, to the subjects that have inspired some of his 40 books and had a discussion with the students who were eager to learn about his new books.
The lecture was proposed by the Press Office of the Greek Embassy in Warsaw, which invited Kallifatides in Poland. The writer had, also, the chance to meet the Greek Ambassador, Gabriel Koptsidis.  

Cacoyannis Foundation: A new Cultural Centre

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias and Cyprus President Demetris Christofias officially inaugurated on March 9, the “Michael Cacoyannis Foundation,” housed in an Athens downtown building.
The Foundation’s building is designed to serve as a cultural centre for performing arts and is meant to preserve Cacoyannis oeuvre for future generation.
The official inauguration is to be followed by a series of events, including a costume and photography exhibition from Cacoyannis’s work for the cinema, opera and theatre.
Cypriot-born Michael Cacoyannis is the director of world acclaimed films, among which Stella, Electra, Zorba the Greek and The Trojan Women
Athens News (5.3.2010) Cacoyannis’ cultural centre

PM George Papandreou at the White House

» Meeting with Obama

Prime Minister George Papandreou met with US President Barack Obama in Washington yesterday.
After the meeting Papandreou said that the US is willing to work with the European Union to regulate the international financial system so speculators cannot target countries with troubled economies.
The premier said  that the issue of speculation will be discussed at the G20 summit in Canada, in June. The two leaders also discussed foreign policy issues such as the Cyprus issue, the integration of Western Balkans into Euro-Atlantic institutions, as well as Greece’s relations with Turkey.

» Visa Waiver

Furthermore, the US side announced that Greece will be included in the ‘visa waiver’ programme, thus enabling Greek citizens to travel to the US without a visa.
Papandreou termed the visa waiver “a vote of confidence” to Greece and noted that the Greek government is determined to respond to its obligations and cooperate closely at international level on the tackling of terrorism.

Kathimerini daily: US joins fight against speculators
The White House: Honouring Greek Independence Day (21.35mins)

» Papandreou’s Op-ed

In an op-ed published in the International Herald Tribune (IHT), Papandreou notes that the Greek case is not an outlier, but one more flare-up in a broken system of financial regulation and predatory behaviour.
“If global economic growth is to be sustainable, we need better coordination and greater solidarity between nations… We must now establish and enforce clear rules to contain the inordinate power of markets over our national economies and our common currency – not for Greece’s sake, but for Europe’s,” he stresses.
Prime Minister’s website: Meeting with President Barack Obama: Prime Minister’s statement ; Brookings Institution: Prime Minister’s speech & YouTube: PM’s speech at Brookings Institution  
New York Times & International Herald Tribune: Prime Minister’s article “Greece is not an island“; Hellenic Finance Ministry: Newsletter Updating Greek Fiscal Measures  
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Government announced austerity plan

» PM: “Sacrifices will Bear Fruits”

The government announced yesterday an additional set of measures bound to slash the double-digit public deficit.
Speaking yesterday at a Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Papandreou said that the emphasis is now shifting to what the European Union will do. 
The new measures aim at bringing into public coffers some €4.8 billion, amount which corresponds to 2% of the country’s GDP.  

» Pay Cuts

In particular, the new measures include a 30% pay cut of public sector’s supplements allocated annually, and a 12% across the board cut of public servants’ benefits. Moreover, subsidies to public entities and their social security funds will be reduced by 10%.
Any additional remuneration in the public sector will be trimmed by 50%, and compensation for overtime work will shrink by 30%.

Executive bonuses in the public sector will be abolished and the Public Investment Budget will be curtailed by 5% (€500 million). As of 2011, the ratio for public sector hirings will be one for every five retirees.

» Taxation

VAT is expected to rise at all cases by an average 1% to 2% and an extra levy on fuel, cigarettes, liqueur and luxury products will be imposed.
A one-off tax of 1% on personal incomes above €100.000 will also be introduced, together with a 15% rise in taxation of offshore companies’ real estate property.
Kathimerini daily: Further Cuts and Tax Hikes Announced
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM George Papandreou`s interviews with international media

» The Economist

In an interview with “The Economist” in London (uploaded on February 23), Prime Minister George Papandreou says he understands the EU’s concerns but stresses his country is not asking for handouts:
George Papandreou on Greece’s woes & video 

» ABC Australia

The premier discusses his plans to deal with the nation’s crippling debt in the face of fierce anti-reform protests, in an interview Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Europe that was broadcast on February 24 on “Lateline” (information programme).
ABC.net: Greek PM discusses economic turmoil
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM Papandreou interview on BBC

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) “Greece is not looking for an EU bailout but for political support from its European counterparts” said Prime Minister George Papandreou in an interview yesterday on BBC One, on the sidelines of his visit to London.
“Give us the time, give us the support – and I’m not talking about financial but political support – in order to show you that what we’re saying is being implemented and we are credible again,” stressed Papandreou, emphasizing on the fact that Greece needs to borrow at the same rate as other countries.
Meanwhile, speaking to “Der Spiegel,” Papandreou expressed confidence that Greece can achieve its target to reduce its budget deficit by implementing serious economic reforms.
BBC News: Greece ‘not looking for bailout,’ Papandreou tells BBC  

Papandreou at Conference on Progressive Governance in London

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou arrived in London yesterday and will be participating today at a Conference on Progressive Governance, on “Jobs, industry and opportunity: growth strategies after the crisis.”
The premier will speak at a panel on the theme “Europe after the global crisis: A strategic role for government,” together with his British counterpart Gordon Brown, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. 
While in London, Papandreou will attend a working luncheon with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and will meet with British Foreign Minister David Miliband.

PM George Papandreou in Moscow

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou arrived in Moscow yesterday for a two-day working visit during which he will be holding meetings with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to discuss economic, commercial, military and political issues.
Speaking to the Itar-Tass news agency, ahead of the visit, George Papandreou said that the level of Greek-Russian relations is excellent while he described relations between the European Union and Russia as having strategic importance.
In another interview with the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti, the premier stressed that Greece is expecting political support and not economic aid from the European Union.
 “Greece did not appeal for economic aid to the international community or to the European Union. Greece intends and is capable of solving its problems alone,” the prime minister said.
Referring to the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline, Papandreou said that its construction can begin in six months.

EU backs up Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The European Union yesterday, in a joint statement by the Heads of State or Government, agreed to take determined and coordinated action to safeguard financial stability in the euro area, and expressed full support for the efforts of the Greek government and their commitment to do whatever is necessary to get the country’s public finances in order.
European commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said that the statement was intended to end speculation that Greece would require a bailout package, while adding that “the Greek government believe they do not need financial support.”
Addressing a press conference at the end of the informal summit in Brussels and referring to this agreement to assist Greece, Prime Minister George Papandreou said:

“our partners assessed and ascertained our will to change, we convinced them, following our great efforts, and it is necessary for us to continue. We will succeed.”
Greece is aiming to reduce its deficit by 4 % of GDP this year, largely through cuts in public spending and an increase in taxes. However, Papandreou said that he would not hesitate to adopt more measures if it becomes necessary.
Council of the European Union: Agreement to support Greece; Kathimerini daily: EU offers help but no specific money pledge

PM Papandreou meeting with French President Sarkozy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou flew to France yesterday, for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy – on an array of issues, focused mostly on economic matters – ahead of today’s European Council meeting.
After his meeting with the French president, Papandreou stated that the Greek government is committed to taking all necessary measures to fix Greece’s public finances.
 “We are ready to take any measures in order to cut public deficit to 8.7% of GDP in 2010 from 12.7% in 2009 and to meet the commitments the government has undertaken in its Stability and Growth Programme.”
Besides the pressing deficit and credit crisis burdening Greece, Papandreou said issues dealing with the Balkans, the Cyprus problem, climate change and even Europe’s position on the international stage were discussed.
Kathimerini daily: Premier talks tough but EU may offer help; Youtube.com: Greek prime minister in France for debt talks

Tax and spending policy

» PM: Tackling Economic Woes

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou chaired a Cabinet meeting that discussed the draft tax bill and public-sector incomes policy.
He said that the government’s efforts to tackle the country’s economic problems will focus on three axes: reducing public debt, promoting growth, and accelerating legislative and institutional measures.
Papandreou stressed that the government’s primary duty was to save the economy, striving for fair solutions that would protect the lower and middle classes as much as possible.

» FinMin: New Tax Rates

A range of public spending cuts and tax adjustments were presented by the government yesterday, following an announcement last week by the premier that drastic measures would be taken to prevent Greece from defaulting.
Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou unveiled more specific policies, which included plans to cut the salaries of the premier and his ministers, a moratorium on hiring in the public sector this year – excluding however health services –  as well as changes to the tax system, which will now contain more tax brackets and will lead to higher earners paying more.

A farewell to philosopher Axelos

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Philosopher Kostas Axelos died on February 4, at the age of 85 in Paris where he had been living since 1945.

Axelos was born in Athens in 1924 and, at the end of 1945, with the help of then director of the French Institute in Athens Octave Merlier, he boarded the legendary ship Mataroa to Paris along with 200 other young Greeks who were thus saved from the ravages of the impending civil war.
He studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, and then taught there from 1962-1973. He was a columnist and later editor of the pioneering, at the time, magazine “Arguments” (1956-1962).
He also founded and, since 1960, directed, in tandem with “Arguments,” the philosophical series of the “Editions de Minuit,” which also published most of his own books.
Axelos wrote 24 books and a plethora of texts in French, Greek and German, which have been translated into 16 languages.
Axelos interview with Radical Philosophy (2005): Mondialisation without the world
Du côté de Desmos: www.desmos-grece.com  (in French)

Papoulias re-elected President of the Republic

 Parliament on Wednesday re-elected the uncontested incumbent President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias to a second term in Greece’s highest office, with an overwhelming majority of 266 votes in the 300-member House among the 298 MPs in attendance, while 32 MPs simply declared their presence.
Papoulias was re-elected with the votes of the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), main opposition New Democracy (ND) and smaller opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) parties’ MPs in a roll-call vote during a special session of the unicameral parliament.
 The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) MPs did not vote for the incumbent, but simply declared themselves present when called.
Papoulias is the sixth President of the Republic since the restoration of democracy in Greece in 1974, following Mihalis Stasinopoulos, Constantine Tsatsos, Constantine Karamanlis, Christos Sartzetakis and Costis Stephanopoulos.
 He will be sworn in for his second term on Friday, March 12 at noon.(Πηγή: ANA-MPA)

PM George Papandreou at the World Economic Forum

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Speaking as part of a panel – that also included Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet – at the annual World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland (January 27 -31), Prime Minister George Papandreou said that Greece would not leave the euro area and would use the discipline of membership to slash its budget deficit and make long-delayed structural economic reforms. “The answer is very simple. We went [to the market] for borrowing two days ago and we were five times oversubscribed. We’re not looking for money from anywhere else…” said Papandreou. He outlined an ambitious goal to reduce the deficit by four points this year and bring it below 3% by 2012, through measures taken as part of Greece’s Stability and Growth Programme (SGP)
The premier held a meeting with EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia yesterday, and the discussion focused on Greece’s SGP in light of the report that the European Commission will be submitting on February 3, on Greece. 
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso – speaking in Brussels on Thursday – stressed the need for the greater coordination of economic policies in the EU, emphasising that economic policies are not only a national issue, but European as well. Referring to Greece specifically, he expressed the conviction that the Greek government must be supported in its effort to fulfil its commitments in the framework of the SGP. 
See world reports – BBC.co.uk: Davos 2010: Greece denies a bail-out is needed; Reuters.com: Greece says being targeted as euro zone “weak link”

Economist Joseph Stiglitz to visit Athens

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz is invited to participate at an open debate, titled “Discussion and debate with Joseph Stiglitz: in or out of the economic crisis?,” organized by the Economist and Hazlis & Rivas conferences, on February 2. 
Prime Minister George Papandreou will inaugurate the conference with an opening address, focusing on the government’s effort to fulfil the twin aim of monetary restructuring and growth.
Ministers, the leader of the opposition New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras as well as representatives of business associations will also participate at the conference.
Meanwhile, Stiglitz has contributed an article (January 25) in the ‘Comment is Free’ section of The Guardian, under the title “A principled Europe would not leave Greece to bleed,” urging Europe to show support for the honesty and integrity of Greece’s government and its efforts not only to bring the budget under control, but to increase transparency of the entire budgetary framework and to reduce corruption.

PM George Papandreou at the Council of Europe

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasburg on Tuesday where he initially referred at length to globalisation and its effect on the world, before detailing Athens’ positions on a variety of issues of Greek and regional interest, including Greek-Turkish relations, respect of international rules, Turkey’s European orientation as well as the financial crisis, the Cyprus issue, human rights and the role of the European Council.
 In his speech, Papandreou stressed the government’s steadfastness to face the economic crisis, stating that “we are determined to put our house in order.”
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: Report (26.1.2010)  

Diamandouros re-elected EU Ombudsman

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The European Parliament (EP) re-elected Nikiforos Diamandouros as European Ombudsman with 340 votes out of a total of 648 valid votes cast.
Diamandouros was first elected to the post on April 1, 2003 and this will be his third term as European Ombudsman.
“I am very grateful for the support of the European Parliament and for this vote of confidence in my work.
I look forward to continuing my efforts to improve the quality of the EU administration and to promote a culture of service in the EU institutions for the benefit of European citizens”said Diamandouros, who was the first to hold the post of National Ombudsman in Greece.

President @ World Future Energy Summit

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) A change of the energy and development model with extensive use of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) could decisively contribute to combating inequalities and advancing social cohesion at local, regional, national and global level, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said yesterday (January 18), addressing the 3rd World Future Energy Summit, that opened in Abu Dhabi, UAE (January 18-21).

Papoulias – a keynote speaker at the summit- stressed that “global leaders are obliged to respond to the climate challenge, and, instead of limiting themselves to a ‘least common denominator’ agreement, they should proceed to a global, comprehensive, and legally binding agreement with specific targets and timetables.”
Every crisis entails an opportunity, and this crisis entails an opportunity for the adoption of policies and measures for the promotion of RES and energy efficiency, which can play a decisive role in the global economy’s exit from the crisis and a speedier recovery, the President noted.

» Papoulias – Erdogan Meeting

On the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit, Papoulias met with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Ergodan, who was also a keynote speaker at the summit.
The two leaders held a private 40-minute meeting during which Papoulias informed the Turkish premier that an answer to his letter to the Greek Prime Minister is to be expected in the next few days, while Erdogan expressed a desire to visit Athens in the near future.

PM`s press conference for the first 100 days of the government

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The year 2010 was the time for Greece to make a new start and major changes, Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed on Wednesday during a press conference held to mark the completion of 100 days since PASOK was sworn in as the new government.
“It is time to change everything, to turn the crisis into an opportunity.
We have already shown that we are capable of doing this, that we can be leaders and not laggards,” Papandreou said, emphasising that the government was determined not to fall into the inertia of its predecessors and had already made important changes at every ministry, while several deep reforms were now in the process of being introduced.
Among these he listed the effort to establish a new taxation system, overhauling the social insurance system, and initiating a debate on local administration reform and a new electoral law.Reviewing his government’s course during the first 100 days, he admitted that some mistakes have been made but stressed that the government is prepared to take corrective action when this proves necessary.
“We are determined to do the things for which we were elected by Greek men and women.
It is this that gives us the strength to not back down,” he underlined, and urged everyone to join the “democratic front” in order to democratically restructure the country.