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“Greece is Changing” campaign

Greece is Changing, is a campaign launched through international media, in four languages, English, French, German and Dutch, aiming to bring to the attention of a wider international audience, through a series of graphs and compact information, the changes initiated in Greece in the last two years.
It is a one-off public service initiative funded by a group of leading Greek business people, whose aim is to ensure that the sacrifices made by every Greek under the toughest austerity package in modern history, are not in vain.

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Deficit down by 46%

According to the preliminary data available for the state budget implementation for the first six months of 2010, on a fiscal basis the deficit presented a 46% year-on-year decline against a targeted 39.5% in the government’s economic policy programme.
The fiscal result of the first six months of 2010 is due to both restriction of expenditures and revenue increases. Nevertheless, these do not yet fully reflect all fiscal measures included in the government’s programme for 2010.
Furthermore, ordinary budget expenditures declined by 12.8% year-on-year against a targeted 5.5% reduction and primary expenditures decreased by 12.7% against a targeted 5.4% annual decrease.
Hellenic Stability & Growth Newsletter: June 2010
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM George Papandreou at the White House

» Meeting with Obama

Prime Minister George Papandreou met with US President Barack Obama in Washington yesterday.
After the meeting Papandreou said that the US is willing to work with the European Union to regulate the international financial system so speculators cannot target countries with troubled economies.
The premier said  that the issue of speculation will be discussed at the G20 summit in Canada, in June. The two leaders also discussed foreign policy issues such as the Cyprus issue, the integration of Western Balkans into Euro-Atlantic institutions, as well as Greece’s relations with Turkey.

» Visa Waiver

Furthermore, the US side announced that Greece will be included in the ‘visa waiver’ programme, thus enabling Greek citizens to travel to the US without a visa.
Papandreou termed the visa waiver “a vote of confidence” to Greece and noted that the Greek government is determined to respond to its obligations and cooperate closely at international level on the tackling of terrorism.

Kathimerini daily: US joins fight against speculators
The White House: Honouring Greek Independence Day (21.35mins)

» Papandreou’s Op-ed

In an op-ed published in the International Herald Tribune (IHT), Papandreou notes that the Greek case is not an outlier, but one more flare-up in a broken system of financial regulation and predatory behaviour.
“If global economic growth is to be sustainable, we need better coordination and greater solidarity between nations… We must now establish and enforce clear rules to contain the inordinate power of markets over our national economies and our common currency – not for Greece’s sake, but for Europe’s,” he stresses.
Prime Minister’s website: Meeting with President Barack Obama: Prime Minister’s statement ; Brookings Institution: Prime Minister’s speech & YouTube: PM’s speech at Brookings Institution  
New York Times & International Herald Tribune: Prime Minister’s article “Greece is not an island“; Hellenic Finance Ministry: Newsletter Updating Greek Fiscal Measures  
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

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

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

EU Heads in Athens

» International Biodiversity Conference

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was welcomed  in Athens in order to attend a two-day international conference on “Biodiversity Protection Beyond 2010” hosted by Greece (April 27-28). Some 230 representatives of EU member states, NGOs, European enterprises and UN agencies discussed EU policy on biodiversity, as 2010 will be a major milestone for biodiversity policy both in the EU and globally. Addressing the event, Barroso underlined the significance of protecting biodiversity, shifting from “business as usual,” to a new model, hopefully shaped by this new “message emitting from Athens.” 

Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis praised Greece for its high quality biodiversity amongst Mediterranean and European countries, but stressed that environmental protection ought to know no geographic boundaries. Taking the floor, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas warned that the world cannot turn its back on climate change and on any pressing matters of environmental protection. European Commission: Follow the Conference on-line & Dimas on biodiversity

» Remarks on Greek Economy

Meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, Barroso welcomed Greece’s plans to tackle microeconomic imbalances and deliver on structural reforms. The Greek government has pledged to rein in the country’s deficit by 2010 (a fall to less than 3% of GDP), in keeping with EU’s proposed measures on fiscal policy.

» Honours Bestowed

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso received  (April 27) distinction from the Hellenic Parliament and the City of Athens. Hellenic Parliament Speaker Dimitris Sioufas decorated Barroso with the Gold Medal of the Hellenic Parliament, while Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis awarded Barroso the Medal of Honour and Benefaction of the City of Athens.

Greece: Fiscal Goals Will be Met

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   After assessing the national Stability and Convergence Programmes of France, Spain, Ireland, Latvia, Malta and Greece , the European Commission presented yesterday (18.2) its reports the corrective arm of the Stability and Growth Pact. Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said yesterday that Greece can return to sustainable public finances by 2011. He stated that the difference between the growth rate projections (EU estimates 0,2% growth rate and Greece 1,1%) affects forecasts for the budget deficit and public debt. He even added that EU’s projections between 2006 and 2008 were lower compared to those achieved. “Greece is one of the five countries in the eurozone expected to have positive growth. Unemployment falls below the eurozone average. Seven countries in the eurozone are projected to have a bloated deficit record this year, far higher that the Pact’s threshold of 3% (GDP). Ireland’s deficit is estimated to reach 11%, Spain’s 6,2%, France 5,4%, Portugal 4,6%, Italy 3,8%, Greece 3,7% and Slovenia 3,2%.” “In any case,” Papathanassiou concluded, “between 1980 and 2004, public debt has tripled. Reducing it is not only a matter of compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact, but also because it is in the country’s best interest.”