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Συνέδριο Εθνικής Τράπεζας Πολωνίας (Βαρσοβία, 21-22/10/2011) – Συμμετοχή της υπουργού Παιδείας Άννας Διαμαντοπούλου

Η Εθνική Τράπεζα Πολωνίας, στις 21 και 22 Οκτωβρίου, στο πλαίσιο της Πολωνικής Προεδρίας της ΕΕ, διοργάνωσε συνέδριο με θέμα «Προς μια περισσότερο ολοκληρωμένη και σταθερή Ευρώπη – Προκλήσεις ενώπιον της Ευρωζώνης και της Κεντρικής, Ανατολικής και Νοτιο-Ανατολικής Ευρώπης».
Στο συνέδριο συμμετείχε η υπουργός Παιδείας, Διά Βίου Μάθησης και Θρησκευμάτων, Άννα Διαμαντοπούλου, η οποία ήταν ομιλήτρια στις 22 Οκτωβρίου στην συζήτηση panel με θέμα «Η ιστορία και οι προοπτικές της ΟΝΕ πέρα από την οικονομική διάσταση».
Συντονιστής της συζήτησης ήταν ο Jacek Saryusz – Wolski, μέλος του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου, και εισηγητής ο Mario Monti, πρώην επίτροπος της ΕΕ και πρόεδρος του πανεπιστημίου Bocconi. Στη συζήτηση συμμετείχαν, επίσης, ο καθηγητής του πανεπιστημίου του Princeton, Harold James, ο πρώην πρωθυπουργός της Ολλανδίας, Ruud Lubbers, και ο πρόεδρος του “Intelligence Capital Ltd” και καθηγητής του “Caribbean Policy Research Institute”, Avinash Persaud.
Τα κυριότερα σημεία της ομιλίας της υπουργού Α. Διαμαντοπούλου έχουν ως εξής:
Η υπουργός τόνισε ιδιαίτερα το έργο και τους στόχους που έχει επιτύχει κατά τους τελευταίους 18 μήνες η Ελληνική Κυβέρνηση και αναφέρθηκε αναλυτικά στους οικονομικούς δείκτες, που καταδεικνύουν την επιτευχθείσα μείωση του δημοσιονομικού ελλείμματος. Στη συνέχεια, υπογράμμισε τις θεσμικές μεταρρυθμίσεις, που έχουν γίνει στην Ελλάδα, όπως π.χ. στο συνταξιοδοτικό,  την τοπική αυτοδιοίκηση, το άνοιγμα των κλειστών επαγγελμάτων κ.α.
Σημείωσε με έμφαση ότι σε μια δημοκρατική χώρα τέτοιου βάθους και εύρους μεταρρυθμίσεις δεν είναι εύκολες, καθώς απαιτούν χρόνο για να πεισθεί η κοινωνία για την αναγκαιότητά τους, αλλά και να προσαρμοσθεί σε αυτές. Ωστόσο, ο χρόνος, τρέχει διαφορετικά στην πολιτική από ό,τι για τις αγορές. 
Αυτό που  ευρίσκεται τώρα στο φιλοσοφικό και πολιτικό πυρήνα της ΕΕ και τις κρίσης της ευρωζώνης, υπογράμμισε, είναι ότι απαιτείται από εκλεγμένους σε εθνικό επίπεδο ηγέτες να λάβουν αποφάσεις σε ευρωπαϊκό επίπεδο και να βρουν λύσεις για ευρωπαϊκά προβλήματα, λύσεις που εν πολλοίς αφορούν άλλους λαούς.
Είναι απαραίτητο πλέον να στραφούμε προς μια πολιτικά περισσότερο ενοποιημένη Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση μέσω της ανάδειξης διά εκλογής Ευρωπαϊκής ηγεσίας. 
Η υπουργός απέρριψε την ιδέα εξόδου της Ελλάδας ή και άλλων δύο ή τριών κρατών-μελών ΟΝΕ από την Ευρωζώνη, υπεραμυνόμενη της εξεύρεσης ευρωπαϊκής λύσης. Τόνισε ακόμη, ότι, με βάση εκτιμήσεις οικονομικών αναλυτών, το οικονομικό κόστος για Ευρωπαίο πολίτη αδύναμης οικονομικά χώρας από την έξοδο κράτους μέλους από την Ευρωζώνη, θα ανέλθει στα 11.500 ευρώ για το πρώτο έτος και 4.000 ευρώ για το δεύτερο. Το αντίστοιχο κόστος, για  κάθε πολίτη ισχυρής οικονομικά χώρας, θα ανέλθει στις 3.000-4.000 ευρώ για το πρώτο έτος.
Πέρα από το οικονομικό κόστος που θα επέφερε η πιθανή έξοδος ενός κράτους- μέλους από την ευρωζώνη, το πολιτικό κόστος για την ΕΕ θα ήταν ακόμη μεγαλύτερο, ανέφερε η υπουργός, δεδομένου ότι η δύναμη και ο ισχυρός ρόλος, που διαδραματίζει η ΕΕ σε παγκόσμιο επίπεδο, θα μειωνόταν σε ανυπολόγιστο βαθμό και θα προκαλούσε κοινωνικό-οικονομικές εσωτερικές αναταράξεις εντός ΕΕ.
Είναι πολύ σημαντικό, ανέφερε η υπουργός, η ΕΕ να κινείται προσεκτικά βήμα-βήμα, διότι στην ουσία εν τέλει έχει να κάνει με τις ζωές εκατομμυρίων ανθρώπων.
Παράλληλα, στους συμμετέχοντες στο συνέδριο διατέθηκε ενημερωτικό υλικό της Γενικής Γραμματείας Επικοινωνίας και Ενημέρωσης για τις μεταρρυθμίσεις της ελληνικής κυβέρνησης κατά την διετία 2010-2011 και για τα σημαντικότερα αποτελέσματά τους.
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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.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Stability programme on “the right track”

The team of experts from the so-called “troika” (European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank), after completing their monitoring of the progress of the stability programme, said that the latter is “on track on all of the dimensions.”
 The government is ahead of the deficit reduction target set in the plan for this year and tax hikes are boosting revenues, according to the team.
The government is also making progress on more long-term economic reforms, which can help its future finances, they added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister George Papandreou, who attended the European Union Summit in Brussels yesterday, underlined that “his government is determined to go ahead with important and difficult reforms,” in order to put the country on the right path for achieving its goals. 
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

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.

Bank of Greece Governor: Full confidence in Government

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Georgios Provopoulos, the Governor of the Bank of Greece’s, said (on February 22) – in an interview with Bloomberg in Athens – he is confident that Greece will achieve its “very ambitious” deficit-reduction goals and avert further credit-rating downgrades.
Rating agencies “want evidence that the plan is being implemented on target” and “some time will have to pass before they can form a better judgement,” said Provopoulos, who is also a European Central Bank council member.
“I have full confidence in the government meeting its goals. They have to succeed.
And they will, I’m sure of that,” he stressed, adding that he takes the commitment of European governments to stand by Greece at face value. The lack of a detailed rescue plan isn’t disappointing, he said. 
Bloomberg.com: Provopoulos Confident Greece Will Meet

The “Economist” Conference

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) A much timely “Economist” Conference was addressed yesterday by the country’s leadership and experts from the financial and business world.

Taking the floor, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou availed himself of the opportunity to note that Greece’s fiscal problems are also an issue for the entire eurozone and marked that a spill-over effect will not leave other eurozone countries unaffected, especially those which are as vulnerable as Greece.
The remarks were reported one day before the European Commission announces its recommendations on the country’s stability programme , which is most likely to receive European approval.   

» “Deficit Fetishism is a Mistake”
Addressing the Conference (Discussion and Debate with Joseph Stiglitz on the World Economy 2010), Nobel Economics Laureate 2001, former Senior Vice President of the World Bank, and Professor at Columbia University Joseph Stiglitz, dismissed fears that Greece will go bankrupt, adding that, when struggling with recession, governments ought to be careful with their rectifying measures.
“Cutting deficits in the wrong way can be counterproductive.”
Kathimerini daily: Greek woes are a eurozone issue

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”

Greece: Economy & Finance

» BoG Governor on Budget Deficit

The strong parliamentary majority of the new government will enable it to move ahead with much needed reforms in the economy combined with a growth agenda, Bank of Greece Governor George Provopoulos said  October 6.  Speaking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Istanbul, Provopoulos also warned that the budget deficit will be considerably higher than 6%, possibly reaching 10% of the GDP for 2009. Brussels is expected to publish its own estimates on the Greek budget and economy in the Commission’s fall report on November 3.  Kathimerini daily: Deficit seen above 10pct mark

» Investing in Gold

European Goldfields, a Canada-based resource company involved in the exploration, acquisition, mining, and development of mineral properties in Greece, Romania and South-East Europe, has won preliminary approval to develop two projects in the Olympias and Skouries mines, in northeastern Greece. It is expected that an output of 420,000 ounces of gold from 2012 onwards, will double current European gold production.  Kathimerini daily: Gold mine projects move ahead

Greek Economy in the Spotlight

♦ Greek Banking System Passes “Stress Test”

(GREEK NEWS AGRNDA)   According to a Bank of Greece report on financial stability, published yesterday (June 23), the fundamentals of the Greek banking system are healthy and the sector could withstand even the most severe crisis.  “The results of the stress tests on lenders were encouraging, showing that the banking sector is in a position to handle particularly intense shocks, which have exceptionally little likelihood of appearing” said the country’s central bank in a statement. The “stress test” -prepared in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund- was based on a sample of nine banks and aimed at evaluating the potential of the Greek banking system. Kathimerini daily: Bank stress tests “encouraging”

♦  EU Commission Report on EMU Public Finances

The European Commission published yesterday (June 23) the 2009 report on Public Finances in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), reviewing how Member States have been tackling the challenges from the financial and economic crisis and assessing the prospects for public finances in the future. As far as the Greek case is concerned, the European Commission forecast that Greece’s budget deficit is going to increase to just above 5 percent of gross domestic product this year.  European Commission: Public Finances in EMU-2009

Greek Bank Finances Climate Change Study

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  A committee of experts and academics from all relevant fields will carry out a study on the long-term economic, social and environmental repercussions of climate change on the country’s economy, Bank of Greece Governor George Provopoulos said yesterday (16.6). The study, which will be funded by the central bank, started being drafted in March and is expected to be completed in two years time.  Professor Constantine Drakatos, a member of the Academy of Athens will head the committee, in which a number of Greece’s most prominent scientists will be participating on a voluntary basis.   The project will not only give useful insight on the economy, Drakatos said, but will also mark the beginning of a permanent system of monitoring the environmental consequences of economic and political decisions.   Bank of Greece: Press Release (in Greek); Kathimerini daily: Bank funds climate change study

Greek PM: Stability Plan Fulfills Current Needs

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    Referring to the current economic crisis, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis on Tuesday February 17, underlined that the government’s updated Stability and Growth Programme was “clear, specific and responds to the needs and demands of the times.”  The premier made the comments in response to the positions outlined in the report released on Monday by Greece’s central bank governor George Provopoulos. The premier said that nobody could predict with any confidence the duration of the major global crisis now unfolding. He said the government’s plan was based on three main lines of policy: gradual reduction of the public deficit, boosting the real economy and supporting the weakest members of society. He emphasised the need for a calm and responsible approach, coupled with a spirit of national consensus, in order to weather the crisis. Ministry of Economy and Finance: Fact Sheets 

Bank of Greece: Long-Term Reform Plan

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Fiscal restructuring and the “need to apply long-term policy measures that would cure chronic imbalances and structural weaknesses” of the economy should be top priority for Greece, Bank of Greece (BoG) Governor George Provopoulos said on Monday (16.2). Presenting the central bank’s report on monetary policy, Provopoulos said that economic growth will slow to 0.5% this year, inflation will fall to 1.8% or lower, while the current accounts deficit is projected to fall below the 14.5% of GDP it reached in 2008 and to start climbing again along with the economy’s recovery. The central banker stressed that Greece’s fiscal deficit must fall below 3% of GDP this year with the aim of falling to zero by 2012.

Greece: Ancient Macedonian Coins on Display

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   An exhibition featuring 270 silver and golden ancient Macedonian coins dating from the 6th to the 1st century BC will be inaugurated on February 26, 2009, at the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum. Ancient Macedonia is considered to be one of the first places in the ancient world to adopt a currency and its numismatic tradition was transposed to and imitated later in other parts of the world, from the Celts in Western and Central Europe to the Arabian Peninsula. The coins of this exhibition are part of 4,000 Macedonian coins collection of Alpha Bank, which includes more than 10,000 ancient coins. The exhibition “Macedonia’s currency” will run until June 8.

European Central Bank on Greek Economy

european-central-bank3(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Addressing the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, President of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet predicted that “after two difficult years such as 2008 and 2009, 2010 will be the year of EU’s return to growth.”  Referring to the , Trichet pointed out that all parties comprising the eurozone should live up to their responsibilities adding that it is crucial to maintain discipline in macroeconomic policy-making. He further underlined the necessity to address structural inefficiencies leading to adverse implications in each country, including Greece. Commenting on the euro’s resilience, Trichet stressed that current monetary trends in all currencies are causing apprehension and it is not unusual for countries in the eurozone to diverge in terms of their economic indexes. A similar situation is reported among states in the USA. Earlier this week, European Commissioner responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Joaquin Almunia, dismissed concerns over the recourse to external supervising institutions. Visit the Statistical Press Releases issued by the European Central Bank

National Bank of Greece in Top 150 Index

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    The National Bank of Greece on Thursday said it will be included in the Global Dow -Top 150, an index including the top 150 companies around the world. The index is a product of cooperation between Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal and aims at highlighting the current and future leaders in the global corporate world. It evaluates the performance of 150 top companies for their innovation, dynamism and influence on their fields. The National Bank said that being placed among a list of top shares around the world would attract a wider range of international investors. Athens News Agency: NBG in Top 150 index 

Bank of Greece: Structural Reforms

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Speaking at an event organised by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) on Monday, Bank of Greece Governor George Provopoulos emphasised the need for an extensive framework of structural reforms, mainly in the wider public sector, pointing out that for as long as Greece’s monetary issues continue to shake investors’ and markets’ confidence, the economy will not be restored easily. Provopoulos also underlined that the Greek banks remain healthy and strong and their fundamental indices are satisfactory.  The IOBE event celebrated the enactment of the “IOBE Excellence” to be awarded to people for contributing to the economy with their overall activity, as well as the establishment of a new, annual event at which a distinguished personality from Greece or abroad will address current or structural problems of the Greek and international economy. Bank of Greece: Speech by Governor George Provopoulos (in Greek)

The Art Collection of National Bank of Greece on Display

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The exhibition “Greek Artists from the National Bank Collection” opened recently at the National Art Gallery-Museum Alexandros Soutzos (www.nationalgallery.gr), and reflects the taste and mentality of a number of National Bank governors over the years. “Immediately after the bank’s founding in 1841, art played a major role: it was institutional, with the governors’ portraits, it was ideological, with the promotion of the war of independence – still recent at that time – and it was also a matter of aesthetics, “said National Gallery director Marina Lambraki-Plaka. Portraits welcome visitors, and some are originals, but there are also digital prints because it was difficult to transfer the originals from the halls of the National Bank. The collection comprises 2,500 works in total, 200 of which are on display at the Gallery. The paintings range from art by Nikiforos Lytras to Constntinos Volonakis and from Alexis Akrithakis to Costas Tsoclis. The exhibition runs until March 22, 2009.  Kathimerini daily: Artistic treasury goes on display; National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation (MIET): Collections 

Greek Finance Minister at IMF: Restoring Trust

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Thanks to its relatively solid banking system, Greece is ‘insulated’ enough against the clogged financial system that has been inflicting the global economy; however, the necessity to fortify financial policy and cohere with fiscal principles is urgent. The remarks belong to Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis speaking to the press in Washington on the occasion of his address at the International Monetary Fund annual meeting’s plenary session. Alogoskoufis noted that IMF has projected a prolonged crisis which will last through 2009. The conclusions drawn at IMF coincide with the ones of G7 and Ecofin and call for action to assure liquidity, remove toxic assets from banks’ balance-sheets, consolidate capitals and provide guarantees to rebuild credit trust. As for Greece’s stance on the matter, the minister reiterated that bank deposits are now guaranteed by law and that the comparatively high growth rates and the ongoing decrease in unemployment signal a lighter disturbance by the latest financial turbulence. Ministry of Economy and Finance: Speech by Giorgos Alogoskoufis & The Greek economy at a glance (October 2008); Greek News Agenda: PM: Growth Secured & Special Issue-The Greek Economy  International Monetary Fund: IMF Welcomes Euro Zone Plan to Combat Crisis & World Economic Outlook, (October 2008)

Greek Literary Translation Prize for 2008

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The Hellenic Foundation for Culture (HFC) Literary Translation Prize for 2008 will be awarded to Roderick Beaton, Professor of Contemporary and Byzantine History, Language and Literature at King’s College, University of London, for the translation of the book “George Seferis: A Levant Journal.”  The book comprises selections from the notebooks that Seferis – winner of 1963 Nobel Prize for Literature – kept during his diplomatic postings in the Middle East (1941-44 and 1953-56). Edited, by Professor Roderick Beaton, the book records Seferis’ impressions of Beirut, Amman, Damascus, Cairo, Baghdad, Cyprus, Jerusalem, and the Dead Sea. The award ceremony will take place in Queen Elizabeth Hall (South Bank Centre) on September 29. The Literary Translation Prize was first launched in 2002 by the HFC and it is awarded every three years for literary translation from the Greek to English. National Book Centre of Greece: Literary translations from Greek to English

Doing Business in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   According to the Doing Business 2009 Report, Greece has improved its overall Ease of Business index, moving up to rank 96 (from 106 in 2008). Greece cut the minimum capital requirement to start a business by 80%, reduced capital tax and made publication of company statutes quicker. It also introduced electronic payment of social security tax, and passed a new bankruptcy law that is expected to allow more companies in distress to emerge as going concerns. Finally, Greece strengthened director accountability by making it easier for shareholders to sue directors for damages caused by related-party transactions.  The Doing Business Report, published by the World Bank Group, is tracking reforms in 181 economies. Greece’s areas of reform were: Starting a Business, Protecting Investors, Paying Taxes, Closing a Business  InvestInGreece Agency: www.investingreece.gov.gr; Competitive Greece: Surveys on Competitiveness;  Ministry of Economy &  Finance: Tax Reform & Investment Incentives Law  Greek News Agenda: The Greek Economy-Pointers; Secretariat General of Information: About Brand Greece- A New Economic Policy: creating a favorable environment for investment  Secretariat General of Information: World Media on Greece – Special Reports