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PM Papandreou`s interview with Newsweek

Greece will decide whether or not to activate the EU-IMF support mechanism within the next few weeks, Prime Minister George Papandreou said in an interview with Newsweek magazine, on April16. 
Papandreou said that the aid package was not a programme for rescuing the Greek economy but would give Greece some “breathing space” in which to carry out necessary reforms, giving the government room to manoeuvre as it embarks on changes that would make the economy sustainable:
“We’re not looking for scapegoats. These are problems of our own making. Markets, however, take a snapshot of the day, projecting it onto the future. It’s difficult for them to evaluate the changes we are making: changes in mentality, changes in our political culture. That may take some time for the markets to realize. But we need a period of calm to make these changes happen. We just passed a new tax law, for example, that is a major revolution in our country. It’s more just and transparent, and it will target tax evaders. This will help slash our deficit. Those numbers are bound to come down”.

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Immigration Policy:Interview of Giorgos Tsarbopoulos

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) In an interview with a Greek daily (Ta Nea), Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, head of the Greek branch of United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) comments on the government’s decision to overhaul Greece’s migration policy.
Tsarbopoulos admits that the draft law on granting citizenship to immigrants is a positive initiative but needs to be supplemented.
He says that naturalisation should be the first step within a broader social integration policy. Similarly, asylum policy needs to be enhanced by a well organised hospitality and welfare safety net.
What is important about the new asylum policy is that it disassociates itself from the police and that a new independent body is created to address the issue.
UNHCR recognises that within the European Union, the Dublin II Regulation has placed a disproportionate burden on Greece and advises other EU countries not to send back asylum seekers when their reception is deemed precarious. 
Greek News Agenda: UN Refugees High Commissioner in Athens & A Joint Letter on Immigration; UNHCR: 2010 Regional Operations Profile – Greece

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.

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

Thinking about the Greece’s Energy Agenda

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Focusing on Greece’s energy agenda for the present year and the complexity of the international energy environment, Dr. Constantinos Filis, head of Russia & Eurasia Centre at the Athens-based Institute of International Relations (www.cere.gr), underlines that in the 2007 the groundwork was laid for the implementation of three energy projects of major importance for Greece: the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline; the Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI); and the South Stream natural gas pipeline.  If these projects see completion, Greece will emerge as an oil and natural gas conduit-another link in the European hydrocarbon supply chain originating in the Caspian basin, if not a Southeast European energy hub- and will enjoy a correspondingly enhanced geostrategic role. Greece’s national security will also be bolstered, as will its energy security – depending on the quantities of energy that can be secured for supplying the domestic market – and, over time, the stability of the wider region.  Greece’s Energy Agenda for 2008 by Dr. Constantinos Filis, The Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy, University of Dundee, Internet Journal, Volume 18; Secretariat General of Information: Greece – Major Think Tanks