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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
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

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Επίσκεψη ΑΝΥΠΕΞ Μαριλίζας Ξενογιαννακοπούλου στη Βαρσοβία (12/5/2011)

Η αναπληρωτής υπουργός Εξωτερικών Μαριλίζα Ξενογιαννακοπούλου πραγματοποίησε χθες επίσημη επίσκεψη στη Βαρσοβία, κατά την διάρκεια της οποίας συμμετείχε στη «Συνάντηση Φίλων Πολιτικής Συνοχής» και συναντήθηκε με τον πολωνό υφυπουργό Ευρωπαϊκών Θεμάτων Mikolaj Dowgielewicz.
Η συνάντηση Υπουργών Εξωτερικών και Ευρωπαϊκών Υποθέσεων («Συνάντηση Φίλων Πολιτικής Συνοχής») πραγματοποιήθηκε με πρωτοβουλία της Πολωνίας, η οποία θα ασκήσει την επερχόμενη Προεδρία της ΕΕ. Συμμετείχαν εκπρόσωποι από 14 χώρες μέλη της ΕΕ, με σκοπό τον συντονισμό της κατάρτισης του κοινοτικού προϋπολογισμού και την εξασφάλιση χρηματοδότησης της κοινοτικής πολιτικής της συνοχής.
Η συνάντηση διοργανώθηκε εν όψει της παρουσίασης από την Ευρωπαϊκή Επιτροπή στα τέλη Ιουνίου του πολυετούς προγράμματος της ΕΕ για τον κοινοτικό προϋπολογισμό.
Η αναπληρωτής υπουργός Μ. Ξενογιαννακοπούλου συμμετείχε στη συνάντηση με στόχο την οικοδόμηση του ρόλου της Ελλάδας στο θέμα του κοινοτικού προϋπολογισμού και των δημοσιονομικών προοπτικών της ΕΕ.
Μετά το πέρας της ανωτέρω συνάντησης, η αναπληρωτής υπουργός είχε γεύμα εργασίας με τον πολωνό επίτροπο της ΕΕ για θέματα προϋπολογισμού Janusz Lewandowski.
Το απόγευμα πραγματοποιήθηκε διμερής συνάντηση ανάμεσα στην αναπληρωτή υπουργό Μ. Ξενογιαννακοπούλου και τον πολωνό υπουργό Ευρωπαϊκών Θεμάτων Mikolaj Dowgielewicz. Οι δύο υπουργοί συζήτησαν για τις προτεραιότητες της Πολωνικής Προεδρίας στην ΕΕ, τις αποφάσεις που σχετίζονται με την σταθερότητα της ευρωζώνης, καθώς και για θέματα μετανάστευσης και την πολιτική γειτονίας.

Interview of Greece’s Ambassador Gabriel Coptsidis at “The Warsaw Voice”

As Appealing as Always
Greece’s Ambassador to Poland, Gabriel Coptsidis, talks to Ewa Hancock. (magazine April 2011)

What steps has Greece taken to extricate itself from the financial crisis?
The Greek government has so far managed to successfully complete a series of reforms in crucial sectors. It has radically limited the operational costs of the public sector and fully reformed the pension and labor market systems as well as the local government structure. Greece continues to press ahead with the necessary structural reforms aimed at promoting growth. In this area, steps have been taken to further reduce counterproductive public expenditure, increase competitiveness, remove bureaucratic obstacles from the investment procedure, introduce a new institutional framework for the promotion of exports, and make an organized effort to evaluate public property.
Let me please underline at this point that the European Council of euro-area member states on March 11—which the Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, also attended—decided to reduce the interest rate on the loan for Greece by 1 percent and to prolong the loan repayment. These two factors are strong and vivid proof that our partners in the EU recognize the huge effort, the significant progress and sacrifices made so far by the Greek people.
Will the situation in Greece affect Greek investors in Poland?
We don’t expect that the current situation will negatively affect economic relations between the two countries. On the contrary, we believe that new opportunities have been created. Besides, Poland’s sustainable development, with its solid economic foundations, favorable location in the center of Europe, 38-million-strong consumer market and well-educated work force, makes the country an attractive place for investment and business expansion. On the other hand, Greek companies that are active in the countries of Southeast Europe in almost every sector of the economy—including information technology and telecommunications, the finance sector, the food and beverage sector, the energy and petroleum sector, building and packaging materials, construction and real estate—are also active on the Polish market.
When it comes to Greek investment in Poland, about 40 companies with Greek capital are currently active on the Polish market. Greek-owned companies have invested more than 1.4 billion euros and created a total of 11,000 jobs in Poland. Greek-owned companies have developed their business in various sectors of the economy. For instance, Germanos/Play is active in telecommunications, Polbank in the banking sector, Coca Cola/Hellenic Bottling Company in beverages, J&P Avax and Alfa Grisin in construction, Terna Energy in renewable energy, Chipita in food, and Totolotek in gaming.
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PM George Papandreou at Economist Conference

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Addressing an Economist Conference on the 28th April in Athens, Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed that “we should not let a small spark become a threat for the eurozone.”
[…] “The markets do not always function rationally and tend to evaluate the situation according to the worst possible scenario and not the most probable,” added Papandreou, underlining the government’s political will to proceed with deep and structural changes.
Focusing on foreign policy, Papandreou reiterated his proposal on the accession of the Western Balkans to the European Union by 2014.
Greek News Agenda: Economist Gov’t Roundtable

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

Eurozone Focuses on Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Greece has failed to take the necessary measures to cut its fiscal deficit, according to the directions offered last spring by the EU Council, the European Commission (EC) announced on Wednesday, before recommending that the country be placed under excessive deficit procedure of Article 104(8) of the Treaty of Maastricht.

Responding to this, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said that the government is determined to restore the credibility of its macro-economic statistics and reduce its large fiscal deficit.In its autumn forecasts, released last week, the EC sees Greece’s budget deficit remaining above 12% of GDP through 2011 – at 12.2% in 2010 and 12.8% in 2011. “We do not share the EC’s projections that see the deficit over 12% in the coming years. This projection was made without taking into account the change in policy,” said Papaconstantinou, who believes he can lower the budget deficit to below 10% next year. “We are changing policy and this will be reflected in the next budgets,” he said.
Kathimerini daily:Eurozone concerned about Greece

Greece’s Economy Surpasses Eurozone Peers

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Greece’s economic growth slowed to 3.1% year-on-year in the third quarter, showing it was braving the global slowdown better than most of its euro zone peers thanks to continuing domestic consumption, data showed on Friday. While the euro zone slipped into recession, Greece’s economy grew by 0.5% quarter-on-quarter according to available data. Eurostat said the Greek economy grew by 3.1% in the third quarter, in a report published on Friday. GDP growth in the Eurozone was 0.7%, while in the EU-27 growth was 0.8% and in the US GDP growth was 0.8%. Slovakia (7.1%), Czech Republic (4.7%) and Cyprus (3.5%) recorded the highest growth rates, while Latvia (-4.2%), Estonia (-3.3%) and Italy (-0.9%) recorded negative growth rates. Economic growth in Greece was up 0.5% in the third quarter, compared with the second quarter, while in the Eurozone and the EU-27 growth rates fell by 0.2%, respectively. Meanwhile, the National Statistics Service (NSS) reported that economic activity in the July-September period was characterised by a decline in investments and mainly by a drop in building activity. Consumer spending growth also eased, while imports also fell.   The NSS said the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.1% in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, after a 3.6% growth rate in the second quarter and a 3.2% growth rate in the first quarter of the year. Eurostat News Release – Euroindicators: Euro area and EU 27 down by 0.2% (14.11.2008)  Forbes: Greece growth slows but outpaces most euro zone peers (14.11.2008); Athens News Agency: Greek economy grew by 3.1 pct; Secretariat General of Information: World Media on Greece – Politics, Business and Current Affairs: Greek economy grows by 3.1% in third quarter  Ministry of Economy and Finance: Economic Data and Reports