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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)  

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.

PM George Papandreou: Economic crisis “a crucial national threat”

 

 (GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Prime Minister George Papandreou, addressing a cabinet meeting on Sunday, termed the economic and monetary crisis “a crucial national threat”.    Papandreou, however, expressed optimism over the favourable outcome of the struggle being waged by the government, calling on all Greeks and the mass media in particular to say “no to panic .”
The major changes that have been scheduled for 2010, which he termed a year of great changes and reforms, must be turned into practice as a precondition for this.
The prime minister made a positive assessment of the first 100 days of the country’s governance which, as he said, “we assumed in a deep and multifaceted crisis with a large size debt and deficits that were bequeathed to us by the previous government.”
He added that the economy alone was not at the root of problems, but the country’s way of governance as well.
Papandreou further said that during the first 100 days the “government stood at the level of its historical responsibility which is to have the citizen as its first concern,” adding that apart from changes in regional administration, great reforms and changes are also required in central administration.
He stressed that the changes will meet with great resistances but expressed certainty that they will have the approval of the Greek people.
Papandreou said that at the end of the coming week the stability and growth programme will be announced, as well as the proposals for government and legislative work that will be following in the near future.
He said he would be giving a press conference at the Zappion Mansion in the middle of the week and would be announcing the main conclusions on governance so far and priorities for the coming period, while calling on ministers to do the same in their field of responsibility.
 The prime minister also announced the creation of a “prestigious advisory committee” on the modernisation and operation of the government and institutional bodies with the principle “the citizen first” always being the target.
He stressed that the new architecture of self administration is part of the government’s overall planning so that on November 14, 2010, local administration elections will be held for the new strong municipalities and the regions.
Papandreou added that the “implementation of the great vision of the world of local administration will begin,” terming this task extremely difficult and for which the consent of all is required and that the government shall seek.
He further pointed out that resources for local administration will be secured in the framework of taxation policy and added that with the electoral law which will be voted in Parliament “a decisive blow will be dealt at black political money”.
Papandreou also referred to the government’s struggle for transparency and expressed satisfaction for the positive response met by his initiative to request from the President of the Republic to convene a meeting of party leaders.
Lastly, the prime minister also referred to the bomb attack that occurred in front of the Parliament building on Saturday, stressing that “no one and with no action can intimidate the country’s political world” and underlined that “we are not going to let such an action pass like this.”

International Media on Greece

 

 

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) In their article “Can Greece lead the way” (9.11.2009) for “openDemocracy,” Anthony Barnett and Mary Kaldor write about the fact that though the left across Europe flounders in the wake of the economic crisis – where the centre right is resurgent – the Greek socialist party under George Papandreou could prove the exception with its dramatic election victory.    
They argue that Papandreou’s goal is an innovative form of progressive government that combines green development, democratic openness, and international reconciliation.
“Papandreou is an exceptionally original and open-minded politician, wishing to lead both Greece and PASOK towards a genuinely far-sighted response to the financial and environmental crisis and the international challenges facing Europe.”

Greek Foreign Minister: A Change of Priorities

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Foreign Ministry Dora Bakoyannis addressed the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce on May 5 on “The impact of the economic crisis on the international stage: The position of Greece.”    At the dawn of this new era, Greece needs to find new development potential firmly founded on its true capabilities and prospects. The triptych “structural changes and development initiatives, financial stability and tangible solidarity with those in greater need” form the basis for the structured plan implemented by the government in order to get the country safely out of the current crisis. In the long run, these are also the main pillars on which our country’s future development course is based. For this course, the minister elaborates on a change of priorities, consisting of three main points: innovation, externalisation, and the need to invest in creative forces.   In related news, at a joint press conference on May 6, representatives of the Hellenic-American, Hellenic-British, Hellenic-French, Hellenic-German and Hellenic-Italian chambers of commerce said they consider the measures undertaken by the government in order to overcome the crisis as being on the right path and called for greater emphasis to be placed on structural changes.   Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Dora Bakoyannis’ speech to the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce 

Greek Financial Ministe: Economy Resistant to Crisis

The Greek economy is showing stronger resistance to pressure from the ongoing global economic crisis, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou stressed on Monday. Commenting on the European Commission’s (EC) spring economic forecasts, the minister said the Commission cut forecasts over economic growth in the Eurozone and the EU, noting that Greece – although projected to present a negative growth rate this year – was showing stronger resistance compared with other eurozone countries. 
Papathanassiou stressed that the EC’s forecast for Greece does not take into account recent government steps aimed at boosting the economy. The EC’s forecast predicts that the Greek economy will present a negative growth rate of 0.9% in 2009 – compared with other countries where the economy was expected to shrink by 4.0% – before recovering to a growth rate of 0.1% in 2010.

The finance ministry is more optimistic and is sticking to its anticipated expansion rate of 1.1% for this year, emphasising that “the Commission’s latest forecasts have not taken into account recent measures taken by the government to support economic growth, such as measures to boost construction activity, the car market and employment,” said the minister. 
In any case, Papathanassiou said, the government would re-evaluate economic progress in June and if needed, would make any necessary adjustments to achieve its budget targets. 
European Commission: Economic Forecast Spring 2009 – Greece ; Athens News Agency: Negative growth in 2009; Ministry of Economy and Finance: Statements by Finance Minister Yiannis Papathansiou on EC’s forecast (May 4, in Greek)

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 

The Prospects of the Greek Economy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)     Addressing institutional investors in London (February 10-11), Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou presented the prospects of the Greek economy. Papathanassiou stressed that the government’s economic policy remains absolutely focused on controlling and further reducing the fiscal deficit and repeated that the state projection of the 1,1% growth rate is realistic and therefore the deficit can be reduced to below 3% by 2011. From 7.5% of the GDP since 2004, the fiscal deficit has this year dropped to 3.7%. Concerning other fiscal indices, Papathanassiou said that expenditure will be contained and the aim is to save €500 million for 2009. Overall, 35% of the amount needed to consolidate and pay for the country’s needs for 2009 has by now been easily secured. Referring to the increased spreads detected in state bond market, Papathanassiou pointed out that Greece managed to overcome the adverse climate. He further commented that the burden of  spreads derived to some extent from an ambience created by unjustified rumours concerning the viability of the euro currency, the Greek economy’s course, or Greece’s and other countries’ future in the eurozone. Ministry of Economy and Finance: Speech of the Minister of Economy And Finance on the prospects of Greek economy & Update of the Hellenic Stability and Growth Programme 2008-2011 (January 2009) ; Greek News Agenda: Ecofin Discusses European Economies; Bloomberg: Greek Minister Says Bond Spreads Not Justified as Debt Shrinks

Greek PM: Talking for International Crisis

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis said on Thursday that the government has a clear plan to handle the international economic crisis which, as he stressed, is more intense now than in the past and is on Greece’s doorstep. The premier spoke following Finance and Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou’s presentation of the stability and growth programme, and noted that the government’s responsible and stable policy guarantees a better future for all citizens. He said that government policy is based on three targets: ensuring growth, reducing waste and supporting the poor. Karamanlis emphasised that with the new stability and growth programme, following the revision of evaluations of all the international organisations as well, “the government is taking all factors into consideration with a new policy. No country and no society can handle the international crisis by itself. However, we can, with a specific programme, prevent the grave repercussions with realism and with a stable policy.”

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 

Greek PM: European Union a buffer against crisis

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Addressing a meeting of youth party organisations affiliated with the European People’s Party (EPP) in Athens, on Saturday, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis underscored the European Union’s role as a buffer against the worst repercussions of the current economic crisis.  “The crisis shows to European citizens how much more serious the repercussions would have been for the economies of their countries if these had been outside the EU,” Karamanlis said, urging young people in Europe to always be actively involved in public affairs and come out ahead of developments. While the months ahead will be difficult, past experience has shown that great crises have played a decisive role in bringing about progress, Karamanlis added, stressing the need for a collective answer by the EU. The premier also focused on the government’s latest plans for reforming public education in Greece, saying that it constitutes the backbone of its policy aiming at establishing an educational system that would meet the needs of tomorrow’s labour market.

OSCE in Motion / Greek FM’s visit to Russia

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)       Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is visiting Russia in her capacity as OSCE Chairperson. The visit to Moscow is the minister’s first visit abroad representing the OSCE. Yesterday, the Russian news agency Itar-Tass published an interview with the foreign minister. Bakoyannis took the opportunity to underscore Greece’s steadfast determination to facilitate the negotiation process for a new cooperation agreement between Russia and the European Union.  Referring to Greece’s bilateral relations with Russia, the Minister stressed that “undoubtedly, Greece’s strong ties with Russia which have endured throughout the years, are bearing fruit and recently, they benefit from a new impetus which is mirrored on the number of bilateral official visits and close cooperation in fields such as energy, constructions, high tech industry and tourism.” Chairmanship of Greece at the OSCE: www.osce.org/cio; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greece-Russia Bilateral Relations   

Economic and Environmental Forum

As part of the OSCE Conferences, the 17th Economic and Environmental Forum (Part I) was held in Vienna, in January 19-20. The forum addressed the issue of migration and its ties to economic, social and environmental policies. Representing Greece, Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation, Theodoros Skylakakis emphasised interstate cooperation in the migration management sector and the combating of human trafficking networks. Linking climate change to migration, he further reiterated the Greek chairmanship’s aim to highlight OSCE’s environmental prospective, pursuing the idea of a “greener OSCE.”

Greece is Supplying Gas to Bulgaria

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)     Greece’s Public Gas Corporation met yesterday (19.1.2009) with a Bulgarian delegation in order to seal a deal for the distribution of approximately 2 million m3 per day of Greek liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies to Bulgaria. Within the framework of EU’s Gas Coordination Group, the European Commission welcomed the bilateral cooperation and encouraged the use of the Greek LNG supplies by Bulgaria. The escalated energy crisis provoked by the interruption of natural gas supplies to Europe had urged the Bulgarian prime minister to confirm on January 13 the country’s high priority in intensifying energy cooperation with Greece.  European Commission-Energy: Gas Coordination Group: Solidarity works and the EU’s gas market adapts to challenges of gas crisis

Gas Crisis did not Affect Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Attending an extraordinary EU energy meeting in Brussels on January 12, which marked the resumption of gas supplies towards the EU, the newly appointed Development Minister Kostas Hadjidakis stressed that “ever since the beginning of the crisis, Greece has been actively engaged in the effort of the EU to overcome the implications of the crisis, while two of the EU observers sent on the spot are Greek”. The minister also pointed out that the Greece was probably the sole EU country not to have been affected by the situation, utilising its reserves in liquified natural gas together with a bilateral agreement with Algeria which provides for immediate procurement of natural gas if needed. Secretariat General for Information: About Brand Greece- Energy Policy

Greece: Monitoring the Economy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The newly-established Inter-ministerial Committee on Economic Policy, headed by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, held its first meeting on Friday (9.1.2009). The Committee reviewed the international economic situation and discussed in detail the impact of the global financial crisis on Greece. Speaking to reporters after the two-hour meeting, newly appointed Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou (in the centre) explained that the committee was set up to render the coordination more effective in order to handle the crisis in the best possible way and constantly monitor the economy so as to adjust policies as required. The committee will periodically examine public finances and will focus on measures to ensure flexibility in adjusting either to what the European Commission calls for or meeting the needs of the local economy.  Kathimerini daily – New minister to scrutinise state of the economy; Greek News Agenda: Inter-ministerial Economic Policy Committee Convenes 

Greek Prime Minister: “There are no Easy Solutions to the Crisis”

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis on Tuesday reiterated his unwavering devotion to the duty mandated by the international financial crisis, warning that there were no easy solutions or recipes. Addressing a meeting of his party’s parliamentary group, the premier said that uncertainty and intense worry over the explosion in unemployment, as well as a fear of recession, prevail throughout Europe. He added that the repercussions inevitably affect Greece as well. “Greece is not outside or beyond the world,” he said, adding that the times beckon a responsible position. “We can convert the international financial crisis into a national opportunity. I am here, and I will fight with all my strength. The Greek people, with unity and unanimity, can win the challenges at this international conjuncture,” the prime minister stressed. On the Vatopedi Monastery-State land transactions affair, the premier said: “I assume our share of the responsibility.” He further added “I underestimated the issue, I did not see its dimensions early on, I did not have the full picture,” Karamanlis conceded, stressing that “the mistake is mine, and I am not passing it on to anyone.”  Athens News Agency: PM Karamanlis: There are no easy solutions 

International Conference on “Combating Forced Labour and Human Trafficking” in Athens

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Europe must adopt a public policy geared towards the relief of people hit by the global financial crisis, said President Karolos Papoulias on Friday, November 21, opening a three-day international conference on “Combating Forced Labour and Human Trafficking” in Athens organised by the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) to mark the 90th anniversary since its founding. The president emphasised that slavery and slave-trade is one of darkest pages in human history, underlining the importance of safeguarding human rights. The event was jointly organised by the International Trade Union Confederation, and the Confederation of European Trade Unions. Also speaking at the conference, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said that according to international figures, a total of 12.3 million people worldwide are victims of forced labour, while an increase of 20 million of unemployed has been forecasted. “Neither the free economy nor open societies are to be blamed for the situation,” she said, explaining that the problem stems from the lack of rules, regulatory framework and control mechanisms. The minister suggested stricter penalties for culprits, increased protection for victims and higher public awareness. Addressing the conference on Sunday, main opposition PASOK party leader and President of the Socialist International George Papandreou stressed that combating forced labour and human trafficking is first and foremost a political issue and warned that of the millions of people worldwide held under conditions of forced labour, 5.7 million are children. He also said that figures show that roughly 1.8 million children also fall victim to sexual exploitation. Athens News Agency: Papandreou at conference on combating trafficking

The Current Financial Crisis: Fall of the Berlin Wall 2.0?

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   ELIAMEP Blogs: Janis Emmanouilidis, Fall of the Berlin Wall 2.0 – Part 1 Key Political Effects of the Financial-Economic Crisis The former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has publicly speculated that the effects of the current financial crisis will be similar to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This time, however, the consequences would not affect the East but rather the West. In times of severe crisis, like the one we are undisputedly experiencing at present, apocalyptic predictions come as no surprise. But is Joschka Fischer right or is his prognosis rather exaggerated? Janis A. Emmanouilidis is a political analyst, policy consultant, political scientist and currently Stavros Costopoulos Research Fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)