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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PM George Papandreou in “Foreign Policy” Magazine

Prime Minister George Papandreou in an in-depth interview in the American magazine Foreign Policy (July 19) explained the reasons behind the crisis and the measures taken by his government in order to tackle it.
He stressed that with the support of the European Union, Greece decided against defaulting, which would cause insurmountable problems especially for the banking institutions in Greece and Europe alike.
He recognized that there was a lack of transparency; there was a lot of money that was lost, wasted, through a huge bureaucracy and patronage. Nevertheless, he highlighted that “we’re committed to changing the situation.
My government, for example, has now brought in laws such as total transparency in all signatures in the public sector, putting more and more tax reform resources and contracts online.”
The premier empathised with Greeks’ sentiments of unhappiness and pain, but “the wide majority of the people realize that we needed to make changes that were long overdue in our country, such as making governance much more responsible, and running the country much more transparent.”
Finally, he debunked recent media stereotypes of Greeks being lazy and concluded saying that: “we’ve seen in this crisis is that we need more Europe, not less…[ ]
…We need to find global governance and we need to find it based on some common values on which we can agree – democratic values.”
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM George Papandreou`s interview in “Guardian”

“Greece is on a normalised road,” Prime Minister George Papandreou said in an interview in the UK newspaper The Guardian, noting that in the nine months since his government took office “it has been crisis management, day in, day out,” and stressing that, in politics “you have to make tough decisions.”
In the interview, titled “Reinvigorating Greece is an Olympian task,” concerning the reactions to the austerity measures, the premier admits that “naturally I feel very bad that we had to take these measures and that our financial sovereignty is under the tutelage of the so-called troika (the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank).”
“It’s not a happy state to be in, and the most painful thing is to take measures against people who were not responsible for the crisis,” Papandreou said. He goes on to explain that the option for the country was to default, or take these measures.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

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)

“You in Greece” campaign – Facts about Greece

  Facts about Greece

· Greece is a safe country

Supportive data: According to Legatum Prosperity Index, Greece faces comparatively few security challenges. Domestic security is favorable. Moreover, according to Eurostat, Greece is a country with a relatively low rate of criminality. The feeling of security is well established in society.
· Greece is an attractive destination.
This comes not only due to its physical beauty but mostly due to the “value for money” relationship in the provided services.
Supportive data: According to a poll, conducted in a population of 1200 people,52% of the sample believes that the quality of travel services offered in Greece are of very good standard and 42% believes that the travel services offered in Greece rival those offered in other touristdeveloped tourist markets.

· Greece is a western democracy and the majority of Greek society supports government policy.
Supportive data: A recent research conducted by Kapa Focus research company on behalf of the weekly Newspaper ‘To Vima’, shows that 55,2% of Greeks support the austerity measures imposed by the Greek Government.
·  Demonstrations are strictly local and limited events/occurrences. They take place mostly in the center of Athens, in a specific and controlled area. The mainland regions and the islands of the Greek Archipelago, where the vast majority of tourists go, are not affected at all.
Supportive data: According to Eurostat, Greece is a favourite destination. Especially, in South Aegean and Ionian Islands, it appears that 48.168 stays and 33.304 per 1000 citizens took place, a proof of satisfaction for the Greek touristic product.
· Greece is a tourist country and Greeks know the importance of hospitality.
Supportive data: Zeus, the King of the Greek Gods, according to the Greek Mythology, named as Xenios (the one who offers hospitality) Zeus.
·  The overall number of demonstrations in Greece is lower than the E.U average.
Supportive data:All demonstrations occurred in Athens, in specific and isolated areas. In their vast majority they were peaceful.

· The picture that global media paint is, to say the least, in many cases exaggerating. In many occasions, library images were re-broadcasted as live feeds.
Supportive data: Greece is a pluralist, democratic western European country. Media freedom is protected and encouraged. During the last two weeks Greece hosted more than 300 foreign journalists.
(Greek National Tourism Organisation)

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.

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)