• Photos from Greece

    Events of Press Office

    Click to go to Events of Press Offce site















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
(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)

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 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”

The Stability Programme was submitted

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The cabinet met yesterday  to approve the updated Stability and Growth Programme (SGP) 2008-2011, which was submitted today (15.1) to the European Commission in Brussels.

“We will achieve fiscal consolidation within three years. […] We can do it; this target is feasible,” said Prime Minister George Papandreou.
The premier added that the Stability and Growth Programme does not contain immediate fiscal adjustment measures only, but also a substantial part of the plan for the restructuring of the country.
On his part, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou stressed that the deficit would definitely be cut, as Greece’s economy is expected to expand in the coming next years.
“The Programme was prepared with the decisive involvement of all ministries and it will be implemented through team-work,” said Papaconstantinou.
Kathimerini Daily: Cabinet stands by recovery plan; Ministry of Economy and Finance: Update of the Hellenic Stability and Growth Programme 2008-2011

ECOFIN: Greek Budgetary Measures Found Satisfactory

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Commenting the results of the July 7th Economic and Financial Meeting in Brussels, Finance Minister Yannis Papathanassiou said that budgetary measures taken by the government in June were considered satisfactory by the European Union.  “We explained the reasons we could not adopt structural measures in 2009. In the 2010 budget, we can pursue structural measures which will help Greece lower its budget deficit”, the minister said.  An extension to the 2010 deadline, if necessary, is possible, the minister added, especially given the increasing number of EU member states entering into excessive deficit procedures.  As of this month, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Latvia and Rumania have join the list of countries with excessive deficits (France, Greece, Spain, Ireland, UK), while another 9 countries including Italy and Germany are to join the list in November.  Council of the European Union: Main Results of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting  Ministry of Economy and Finance: Tables on the 2009 Budget progress & Press conference on the 2009 Budget execution progress (June 25)

Greek Presidency in the Western European Union

WEU(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Greece will assume the Presidency of the Western European Union (WEU) for the second semester of 2009, and the Foreign Ministry presented the main priorities of the Presidency on June 3, regarding budget, institutions and the future of the WEU. Speaking in WEU Parliamentary Assembly, Secretary General for European Affairs of the foreign ministry Dimitris Katsoudas mentioned the major challenges that Europe faces this period in many sectors, and stressed the leading role of Greece in combating piracy and supporting the European perspective of Western Balkan counties. The Western European Union was established on the basis of the Treaty of Brussels in 1948.

Foreign Affairs: Greece in Brussels

Bakoyannis @ EU Ministers Council
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis attended the Council of European Union Foreign Ministers which convened in Brussels on Monday and examined developments in the Middle East, energy security and the priorities of the EU Czech Presidency. Following the council meeting, Bakoyannis spoke to the press. On the question of the situation prevailing in the Gaza Strip, she said that the foreign ministers agreed that priority must be given to achieving immediate progress in handling the humanitarian tragedy being experienced by the inhabitants in Gaza. The minister expressed regret because substantive steps have not been taken in providing humanitarian aid and because the EU’s requests in this direction have been met with no response. “The lifting of the blockade and the opening of corridors is essential to enable the smooth flow of humanitarian aid from the international community,” she said. Asked about whether the recent crisis between Russia and Ukraine would affect the South Stream pipeline in any way, Bakoyannis gave a negative answer, saying that the policy of the Greek government on energy issues is a policy that “many other countries would like to have.”  EU Council – General Affairs and External Relations Councils: Press Releases – External Relations & General Affairs (Provisional Versions, 26.2.2009) 
FM Addresses European Policy Centre
Speaking at the local think tank Centre for European Policy Studies (CPES) in Brussels yesterday, Bakoyannis outlined Greece’s positions on several issues including the OSCE Chairmanship, the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), relations with Turkey, and the Cyprus issue. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Speech of FM Dora Bakoyiannis at the European Policy Centre (Brussels); Athens News Agency: FM on FYROM, Turkey, Cyprus 

Positive Growth for Greece at Negative Conjuncture

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The European Commission (EC) on Monday released its interim forecasts on European economies for up to 2010, anticipating recession in the Union with an increase in deficits, but also a reduction in inflation. Specifically for Greece, the country will be one of the five within the eurozone to demonstrate marginal growth, while at the same time negative growth rates are foreseen for 11 of the 16 eurozone members and for 18 of the 27 EU member states. The Commission noted that deficits above the 3.0% limit are anticipated this year in 9 of the 16 eurozone members and 15 of the 27 EU member states. According to the Commission, Greece’s fiscal deficit will increase from 3.4% points of GDP in 2008 to 3.7% in 2009 and 4.2% in 2010, taking into consideration, however, that the basic guidelines of the draft 2010 state budget have not yet been released. Regarding Greece’s fiscal deficit, it will climb from 3.4% points of GDP in 2008 to 3.7% in 2009 and 4.2% in 2010, taking into consideration, however, that the basic guidelines of the draft 2010 state budget have not yet been released. The Commission noted that deficits above the 3.0% limit are anticipated this year in 9 of the 16 eurozone members and 15 of the 27 EU member states. Concerning unemployment, the rate stood at 8.3% in 2008 (compared with a eurozone average of 7.5% and EU average of 7 percent), while it is expected to rise to 9% in 2009 (against 9.3% in the eurozone and 8.7% in the EU). With regard to performance in the eurozone, European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia stressed that there will be no break-up of the eurozone. Following a meeting with Minister of Economy and Finance Yiannis Papathanassiou today, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the eurozone group stated that “Greece is not the only country with an excessive deficit” and added that “we will handle Greece, the way we handle all other member states with respective problems”. In related predictions, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its semi-annual “Economic Outlook” (November 2008) forecasts that the Greek economy’s growth rate will be gradually stabilised in the second quarter of 2009, after staying at feeble levels during the first six months of next year. Meanwhile, in its “World Economic Outlook“, released in October 2008, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) foresaw growth in Greece at 2%. Athens News Agency: EU Commission report on Greece European Commission: Economic and Financial Affairs- EU interim forecasts for 2009-2010- Greece (December 2007)  (p.26) 

FinMin on Forecast

After meeting with EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia in Brussels yesterday, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said the government’s economic priorities would focus
-on fiscal adjustment,
-support of the real economy
-support of the social groups hardest hit by the downturn
“We believe that with the policies we follow, we will have positive results and achieve better performance than the Commission has forecast for Greece,” he said. Next week, the finance ministry is expected to submit to Brussels its updated Stability and Growth Programme, in which it will lower its GDP growth target for 2009 from 2.7% currently. Kathimerini daily: Beating grim Brussels forecasts Ministry of Economy and Finance: The 2007 Update of the Hellenic Stability & Growth Programme 2007 – 2010

Greece: Responding to the Caucasus Crisis

(GREEK  NEWS AGENDA)           From the first moment, the crisis in Caucasus has been of great concern to Greece. A precautionary activation of the Crisis Management Unit was deemed necessary in order to tackle the problems which have arisen from the clashes in South Ossetia and make provision for the citizens of Greek origin residing in the area. Within this framework, Greece dispatched a humanitarian aid shipment to Georgia and contributed to the cause of relieving the turbulent area with 100,000€ through the UNHCR. The OSCE, which has also addressed the matter, decided to send 20 international observers and Greece, -in viewof holding 2009’s chairmanship– is ready to assume full responsibility arising in the light of the current developments.  During the extraordinary meeting of the 26 NATO members which took place on August 19 in Brussels, Foreign Affairs Minister Dora Bakoyannis stated that “the NATO-Russia dialogue is very important” and that “Greece-along with many other countries-has been in favour of the continuation of this dialogue at all levels”.  South Ossetia and Abkhazia’s recent succession movement from Georgia has prompted an expedient reaction of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bakoyannis clarified that within both the NATO Council and the Council of the European Union, Greece’s foreign policy abides to the principles of territorial integrity and added that Greece endorses the French presidency’s statement condemning the movement.  Today, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will participate in the European Union’s special summit on the Caucasus crisis. Moscow’s relations with the international community are expected to top the summit’s agenda. Before leaving for Brussels, Bakoyannis reiterated Greece’s interest for “a common European position regarding the framework of EU-Russia relations”, “given that Moscow is an ‘important partner’ for Europe”.