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Historic decisions for Greece and the Eurozone

Following a marathon negotiating session of European Council on the 26th of October in Brussels, Heads of State and Government of the Eurozone member states agreed on a comprehensive set of measures which reflect their unwavering determinationto overcome together the current difficulties and to take all the necessary steps towards a deeper economic union commensurate with their monetary union.
In particular on Greece, there was an agreement that should secure the decline of the Greek debt to GDP ratio with an objective of reaching 120% by 2020. It also includes a voluntary contribution by private creditors, amounting to a nominal discount of 50% on notional Greek debt. Additionally, a new EU-IMF multiannual programme financing up to € 100 billion will be put in place by the end of the year, accompanied by a strengthening of the mechanisms for the monitoring of reforms implementation.
“The debt is absolutely sustainable now,” Papandreou told a press conference, earlier today, after the meeting of euro zone leaders.
“Greece can now settle its accounts with the past, once and for all. […] We can claim that a new day has come for Greece, and not only for Greece but also for Europe,” the premier added.
Primeminister.gr: Papandreou press conference after the euro summit (in Greek); European Council President: Remarks by Herman Van Rompuy following the meeting of the Euro Summit & Statement by President Barroso

Συνέντευξη προϊσταμένης Γραφείου Τύπου Μ. Μονδέλου στο πολωνικό ραδιόφωνο

Το πολωνικό κρατικό ραδιόφωνο Polskie Radio, στην εβδομαδιαία εκπομπή Diplomatic Bag (17/3/2011) που αναλύει από πολιτική άποψη την ευρωπαϊκή και διεθνή επικαιρότητα, μετέδωσε ρεπορτάζ με τίτλο «Η Ευρώπη φοβάται τους λαθρομετανάστες από την Βόρεια Αφρική».
Στο ρεπορτάζ εξετάζονται «οι τρόποι με τους οποίους τα κράτη του νότου της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης, και ιδιαίτερα η Ιταλία και η Ελλάδα, αντιμετωπίζουν την εισροή παράνομων μεταναστών από την εξεγερμένη Βόρεια Αφρική» και ερευνάται «το ενδεχόμενο μετατροπής των αυξημένων μεταναστευτικών κυμάτων σε “Βιβλική έξοδο”».
Οι δημοσιογράφοι Monika Greszta και Alicja Baczynska επεσήμαναν ότι «έναν μήνα μετά την πολιτική αναταραχή στην Αίγυπτο, την Τυνησία, το Μαρόκο και την Λιβύη, η οποία ανέτρεψε ή υπονόμευσε τους δικτάτορες της Βόρειας Αφρικής, πολλοί στην Ευρώπη φοβούνται ότι η ήπειρος θα αντιμετωπίσει ένα γιγαντιαίο κύμα λαθρομετανάστευσης από την Βόρεια Αφρική».
Στην διάρκεια του ρεπορτάζ μεταδόθηκε συνέντευξη της προϊσταμένης του Γραφείου Τύπου, Μαρίας Μονδέλου, στην δημοσιογράφο Monika Greszta.
Στη συνέντευξη υπογραμμίστηκε αρχικά ότι “η Ελλάδα αναμένεται να πληγεί από ένα τεράστιο κύμα λαθρομεταναστών από την Λιβύη, την Τυνησία και το Μαρόκο, εξαιτίας της γεωγραφικής θέσης της στα εξωτερικά σύνορα της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης και της γειτονίας της με χώρες προέλευσης λαθρομεταναστών. Η Ελλάδα δέχεται τον μεγαλύτερο αριθμό λαθρομεταναστών σε σύγκριση με τις άλλες χώρες της Ευρώπης. Το 2010 περίπου 128.000 παράνομοι μετανάστες εισήλθαν στη χώρα και τους επόμενους μήνες αναμένονται ακόμη περισσότεροι”.
Αναφέρθηκαν, στη συνέχεια, ορισμένες από τις ελληνικές θέσεις για το πρόβλημα της λαθρομετανάστευσης, τονίζοντας, μεταξύ άλλων, ότι: “Θεωρούμε ότι η λαθρομετανάστευση δεν είναι μόνο ελληνικό πρόβλημα, αλλά ευρωπαϊκό και διεθνές, και επομένως τα μέτρα θα πρέπει να είναι ευρωπαϊκά. Γι`αυτούς τους λόγους, προσπαθούμε να πείσουμε τα κράτη μέλη να δείξουν αλληλεγγύη στην αντιμετώπιση του προβλήματος. Προτείνουμε, επίσης, την αναθεώρηση του Κανονισμού «Δουβλίνο ΙΙ» και την αναλογική κατανομή παράνομων μεταναστών μεταξύ των κρατών μελών, με βάση ορισμένα κριτήρια, όπως η οικονομική δυνατότητα και ο πληθυσμός κάθε κράτους μέλους.
Για την αντιμετώπιση της λαθρομετανάστευσης από την Βόρεια Αφρική, η Ελλάδα αύξησε τα μέτρα ελέγχου στα σύνορα της με την βοήθεια της ΕΕ. Ενισχύσαμε τους αστυνομικούς ελέγχους στα εσωτερικά μας σύνορα, ώστε να αποτρέπεται η μετακίνηση των παράνομων μεταναστών σε άλλα κράτη της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης, και εντείναμε τους ελέγχους στα εξωτερικά σύνορα.
Συνεργαζόμαστε, επίσης, με την Ευρωπαϊκή Υπηρεσία Φύλαξης των Συνόρων (Frontex). Από τον Νοέμβριο που ξεκίνησε η παρουσία της Frontex στην Ελλάδα, σημειώθηκαν πολύ θετικά αποτελέσματα ως προς τον αριθμό των παράνομων μεταναστών: μείωση σε ποσοστό 37% τον Νοέμβριο και σε ποσοστό 57% τον Δεκέμβριο». Continue reading

PM George Papandreou in “Foreign Policy” Magazine

Prime Minister George Papandreou in an in-depth interview in the American magazine Foreign Policy (July 19) explained the reasons behind the crisis and the measures taken by his government in order to tackle it.
He stressed that with the support of the European Union, Greece decided against defaulting, which would cause insurmountable problems especially for the banking institutions in Greece and Europe alike.
He recognized that there was a lack of transparency; there was a lot of money that was lost, wasted, through a huge bureaucracy and patronage. Nevertheless, he highlighted that “we’re committed to changing the situation.
My government, for example, has now brought in laws such as total transparency in all signatures in the public sector, putting more and more tax reform resources and contracts online.”
The premier empathised with Greeks’ sentiments of unhappiness and pain, but “the wide majority of the people realize that we needed to make changes that were long overdue in our country, such as making governance much more responsible, and running the country much more transparent.”
Finally, he debunked recent media stereotypes of Greeks being lazy and concluded saying that: “we’ve seen in this crisis is that we need more Europe, not less…[ ]
…We need to find global governance and we need to find it based on some common values on which we can agree – democratic values.”

PM George Papandreou`s interview in “Guardian”

“Greece is on a normalised road,” Prime Minister George Papandreou said in an interview in the UK newspaper The Guardian, noting that in the nine months since his government took office “it has been crisis management, day in, day out,” and stressing that, in politics “you have to make tough decisions.”
In the interview, titled “Reinvigorating Greece is an Olympian task,” concerning the reactions to the austerity measures, the premier admits that “naturally I feel very bad that we had to take these measures and that our financial sovereignty is under the tutelage of the so-called troika (the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank).”
“It’s not a happy state to be in, and the most painful thing is to take measures against people who were not responsible for the crisis,” Papandreou said. He goes on to explain that the option for the country was to default, or take these measures.

Deficit down by 46%

According to the preliminary data available for the state budget implementation for the first six months of 2010, on a fiscal basis the deficit presented a 46% year-on-year decline against a targeted 39.5% in the government’s economic policy programme.
The fiscal result of the first six months of 2010 is due to both restriction of expenditures and revenue increases. Nevertheless, these do not yet fully reflect all fiscal measures included in the government’s programme for 2010.
Furthermore, ordinary budget expenditures declined by 12.8% year-on-year against a targeted 5.5% reduction and primary expenditures decreased by 12.7% against a targeted 5.4% annual decrease.
Hellenic Stability & Growth Newsletter: June 2010

“You in Greece” campaign – Facts about Greece

  Facts about Greece

· Greece is a safe country

Supportive data: According to Legatum Prosperity Index, Greece faces comparatively few security challenges. Domestic security is favorable. Moreover, according to Eurostat, Greece is a country with a relatively low rate of criminality. The feeling of security is well established in society.
· Greece is an attractive destination.
This comes not only due to its physical beauty but mostly due to the “value for money” relationship in the provided services.
Supportive data: According to a poll, conducted in a population of 1200 people,52% of the sample believes that the quality of travel services offered in Greece are of very good standard and 42% believes that the travel services offered in Greece rival those offered in other touristdeveloped tourist markets.

· Greece is a western democracy and the majority of Greek society supports government policy.
Supportive data: A recent research conducted by Kapa Focus research company on behalf of the weekly Newspaper ‘To Vima’, shows that 55,2% of Greeks support the austerity measures imposed by the Greek Government.
·  Demonstrations are strictly local and limited events/occurrences. They take place mostly in the center of Athens, in a specific and controlled area. The mainland regions and the islands of the Greek Archipelago, where the vast majority of tourists go, are not affected at all.
Supportive data: According to Eurostat, Greece is a favourite destination. Especially, in South Aegean and Ionian Islands, it appears that 48.168 stays and 33.304 per 1000 citizens took place, a proof of satisfaction for the Greek touristic product.
· Greece is a tourist country and Greeks know the importance of hospitality.
Supportive data: Zeus, the King of the Greek Gods, according to the Greek Mythology, named as Xenios (the one who offers hospitality) Zeus.
·  The overall number of demonstrations in Greece is lower than the E.U average.
Supportive data:All demonstrations occurred in Athens, in specific and isolated areas. In their vast majority they were peaceful.

· The picture that global media paint is, to say the least, in many cases exaggerating. In many occasions, library images were re-broadcasted as live feeds.
Supportive data: Greece is a pluralist, democratic western European country. Media freedom is protected and encouraged. During the last two weeks Greece hosted more than 300 foreign journalists.
(Greek National Tourism Organisation)

Greece in mourning

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Political leaders expressed their shock and grief on Wednesday in the wake of a bank torching in central Athens that left three bank employees dead.

News of the abhorrent attack found Parliament in session to debate the latest round of government-announced austerity measures – the reason unions were holding protests outside the House.

» President of the Hellenic Republic

Referring to the current financial situation and the frustration many people are feeling with the political system, President Karolos Papoulias stated the following:
“Our country has reached the edge of the abyss. It is everybody’s responsibility that we do not take the fatal step. Responsibility is proven through action, not in words. History will judge us all.”

» Prime Minister

Prime Minister George Papandreou rebuked a murderous attack, while promising that “the perpetrators will be located and will stand trial.” Moreover, the premier called on all Parliament-represented parties to unequivocally condemn the violence.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are a free and democratic country. We fight, and have fought, for the right to live in a democratic Greece. And each citizen has a right to demonstrate.
But no one has the right to resort to violence, especially violence leading to the murder of fellow citizens. And we know that violence breeds violence. Protest is different from murder.”

» Opposition Leaders

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras stressed that the country is going through “critical moments,” while expressing his grief for the innocent victims of fanaticism, and random violence.
The leaders of the remaining opposition parties – the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group Chief Alexis Tsipras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis – each condemned the violence and expressed their condolences to the victims’ families.