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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.

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Immigration Policy:Interview of Giorgos Tsarbopoulos

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) In an interview with a Greek daily (Ta Nea), Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, head of the Greek branch of United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) comments on the government’s decision to overhaul Greece’s migration policy.
Tsarbopoulos admits that the draft law on granting citizenship to immigrants is a positive initiative but needs to be supplemented.
He says that naturalisation should be the first step within a broader social integration policy. Similarly, asylum policy needs to be enhanced by a well organised hospitality and welfare safety net.
What is important about the new asylum policy is that it disassociates itself from the police and that a new independent body is created to address the issue.
UNHCR recognises that within the European Union, the Dublin II Regulation has placed a disproportionate burden on Greece and advises other EU countries not to send back asylum seekers when their reception is deemed precarious. 
Greek News Agenda: UN Refugees High Commissioner in Athens & A Joint Letter on Immigration; UNHCR: 2010 Regional Operations Profile – Greece

Greece: Invest in the “Fast Track”

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   “Invest in Greece Agency” is now the official agency to manage the licensing process for investments.

A new licensing system is underway – Fast Track – according to which investments in industry, energy, tourism, and advanced technologies and innovation that exceed €200 million, or exceed €75 million and create 200 new jobs or investments of at least €1 million per year in advanced and innovative technologies may take advantage of Fast Track licensing.  This is overseen by an inter-ministerial committee, which will be speeding up the process before the final license is issued.   The agency will process applications for Fast Track and conduct the evaluation. Invest in Greece will act on behalf of the investor, carrying out all the necessary procedures for licensing while working closely with all pertinent government bodies.   Invest in Greece agency: www.investingreece.gov.gr & view the corporate video

Greek Finance Minister at 10th Venture Capital Forum

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Economic growth will come from within business activation and through collaboration between public and private sector, economy and finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said on Tuesday, addressing the 10th Venture Capital Forum organised in Athens by the Invest in Greece Agency in cooperation with the New Economy Fund (TANEO) and the PRAXIS network.  Papathanassiou also said that the government will continue to fulfil its duty with responsibility, adding that it was seeking consensus, unanimity and understanding at the national level.  In the framework of the country’s safe exit from the crisis, he said, businesses were called on to assume their significant role with new initiatives, a creative disposition, and investments in sectors on which growth in the new era will be founded. Ministry of Economy and Finance: Statement by Minister at 10th Venture Capital Forum (in Greek, 16.6.2009) 

Bonds, Greek Bonds

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The government sold €8 billion worth of 10-year bonds on strong demand, the Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA) reported yesterday (June 2). The 6% notes due July 2019 were sold to yield 187 basis points more than German government debt of similar maturity and 178 basis points over the benchmark mid-swap rate, the PDMA said. “It was the year’s most successful issue, as far as volume is concerned,” said PMDA head Spyros Papanicolaou. Brokers said the yield was high, making the bond attractive to investors. Kathimerini daily: Gov’t sells 8 bln euros of bonds

Anti-Doping Conference in Athens

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The city of Athens will host the first EU conference on anti-doping from May 13 to 15, organised by the European Commission and the Commission’s Sport Unit. The initiative is part of the “White Paper” on sport, passed by the European Parliament.  The World Anti-Doping Agency, the International Olympic Committee, representatives of international sporting bodies such as FIFA, UEFA, FIBA and IAAF, scientists, athletes and sports instructors from Greece and abroad as well as the EU’s 27 sports ministers have been invited to participate in the inaugural conference in the Greek capital.  

Green Power: Creating ”IRENA”

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Greece signed on Monday the founding treaty for the creation of an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the founding conference of which was held in Bonn in January 26. The agreement was signed on behalf of the Greek government by Deputy Development Minister Ioannis Bougas, who highlighted the potential of renewable energy sources to help alleviate social inequality by providing new job opportunities in products and services with high added value. Based on an initiative launched by Germany, IRENA aims at becoming the main driving force in promoting a rapid transition towards the widespread and sustainable use of renewable energy on a global scale by providing support to both industrial and developing countries in order to improve their regulatory frameworks and to develop renewable energy sources. Kathimerini daily: IRENA aims to boost use of green power Greek News Agenda: The Photovoltaic Market; Ministry of Development: 4th National Report regarding the penetration level of renewable energy sources up to the year 2010