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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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Greece in mourning

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Political leaders expressed their shock and grief on Wednesday in the wake of a bank torching in central Athens that left three bank employees dead.

News of the abhorrent attack found Parliament in session to debate the latest round of government-announced austerity measures – the reason unions were holding protests outside the House.

» President of the Hellenic Republic

Referring to the current financial situation and the frustration many people are feeling with the political system, President Karolos Papoulias stated the following:
“Our country has reached the edge of the abyss. It is everybody’s responsibility that we do not take the fatal step. Responsibility is proven through action, not in words. History will judge us all.”

» Prime Minister

Prime Minister George Papandreou rebuked a murderous attack, while promising that “the perpetrators will be located and will stand trial.” Moreover, the premier called on all Parliament-represented parties to unequivocally condemn the violence.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are a free and democratic country. We fight, and have fought, for the right to live in a democratic Greece. And each citizen has a right to demonstrate.
But no one has the right to resort to violence, especially violence leading to the murder of fellow citizens. And we know that violence breeds violence. Protest is different from murder.”

» Opposition Leaders

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras stressed that the country is going through “critical moments,” while expressing his grief for the innocent victims of fanaticism, and random violence.
The leaders of the remaining opposition parties – the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group Chief Alexis Tsipras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis – each condemned the violence and expressed their condolences to the victims’ families.

New impetus for Greek-Turkish relations

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) A new impetus for Greek-Turkish relations was given yesterday following a letter by Prime Minister George Papandreou addressed to his Turkish counterpart, responding to prior correspondence between the two leaders.

The Greek side proposes the launch of a series of talks on the issue of the continental shelf, within a specific time limit and the option for both sides to resort to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in case of a dead-end.
Papandreou deems the Turkish proposal of establishing a High-level Council of Cooperation important and invites Recep Tayyip Erdogan to pay an official visit to Greece, sometime before summer, in order to set a time framework.
Moreover, the Greek Premier highlights the need for de-escalating tension over the Aegean Sea and stresses that military activity in the area must be avoided since it jeopardizes security and fuels tension. Referring to the pressure exercised on bilateral relations due to immigration flows’ movement, Papandreou reiterates the necessity for Turkey to abide by the Greek-Turkish Readmission Protocol (2001).
The premier concludes by expressing Greece’s support for Turkey’s European perspective, provided that the latter honours its obligations towards the Greek minority in Turkey and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greece-Turkey Bilateral Relations & Greek-Turkish Rapprochement
[Photo from Papandreou’s visit to Istanbul, Turkey, October, 2009]

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.

Greek PM: Growth Secured

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Attending the extraordinary summit of Euro zone leaders yesterday in Paris, called by EU’s French presidency, Karamanlis hailed the EU leaders’ decision to give full support over a coordinated response to the economic slowdown. Speaking to the press, Karamanlis reaffirmed Greece’s immediate response to the financial turmoil which managed to “exhibit reflexes that were much better than many other countries around the world.” Moreover, Karamanlis appeared reassuring, noting that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) continues to foresee growth in Greece at 2%, when zero growth is projected for the rest of the Euro zone countries. At the World Bank Group and IMF’s annual meeting, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis is expected to address the organisation’s plenary session. Alogoskoufis has already met during the weekend with World Bank officials as well as senior executives of international financial institutions. Athens News Agency: FinMin in Washington & PM satisfied with Eurozone summit European Commission: Economic & Monetary Union & Stability and Growth Pact; International Monetary Fund: IMF Welcomes Euro Zone Plan to Combat Crisis & World Economic Outlook, (October 2008); Ministry of Economy and Finance: The Greek Economy at a Glance (October 2008); Greek News Agenda: Bank of Greece: Banking System Safe