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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)

Επίσκεψη Υπουργού Εξωτερικών Σταύρου Λαμπρινίδη στη Βαρσοβία (19 & 20/7/2011)

Την Τρίτη 19 και την Τετάρτη 20 Ιουλίου 2011, ο υπουργός Εξωτερικών Σταύρος Λαμπρινίδης πραγματοποίησε επίσκεψη εργασίας στην Πολωνία που ασκεί για το τρέχον εξάμηνο την Προεδρία της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης.
Το πρόγραμμα της επίσκεψης περιελάμβανε στις 20 Ιουλίου συνάντηση του Υπουργού Εξωτερικών με τον υπουργό Εξωτερικών της Πολωνίας Radosław Sikorski, με τον οποίον συζήτησαν θέματα διμερούς και ευρωπαϊκού ενδιαφέροντος.
Στις 19 Ιουλίου ο υπουργός Εξωτερικών Σ. Λαμπρινίδης έδωσε διάλεξη με τίτλο «Responsibility and Solidarity: the building blocks of our Union», προσκεκλημένος της πολωνικής δεξαμενής σκέψης «Polish Institute of International Affairs» (PISM), όπου είχε εξ άλλου συναντήσεις με τον πρόεδρο του διοικητικού συμβουλίου και πρώην πρωθυπουργό της Πολωνίας, Jan Krzysztof Bielecki και τον διευθυντή, Marcin Zaborowski.

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.

Ομιλία του πρωθυπουργού Γιώργου Παπανδρέου στην συνάντηση των προϊσταμένων Γραφείων Τύπου Εξωτερικού

Την Δευτέρα, 17 Ιανουαρίου 2011, πραγματοποιήθηκε στην αίθουσα Εκδηλώσεων (Κέντρου Τύπου) της Γενικής Γραμματείας Επικοινωνίας – Γενικής Γραμματείας Ενημέρωσης η συνάντηση των προϊσταμένων ΓΤΕ και Γραφείων ΕΟΤ, στις εργασίες της οποίας παρέστη ο Πρωθυπουργός, κ. Γιώργος Παπανδρέου. Η ομιλία του Πρωθυπουργού επικεντρώθηκε στην Ελλάδα που αλλάζει και στην ανάδειξη της κρίσης – και της αρνητικής για την χώρα μας δημοσιότητας που την συνόδεψε – ως μιας ευκαιρίας για την οικοδόμηση μιας νέας ταυτότητας που θα επιανατοποθετεί την Ελλάδα στον κόσμο. Προσδιόρισε επίσης τον ρόλο που θα έχουν τα Γραφεία Τύπου και Επικονωνίας στο πλαίσιο της σημερινής συγκυρίας.
Παρατίθεται ολόκληρο το κείμενο της ομιλίας.
(Πηγή: Forum Διεθνούς Επικοινωνιακής Πολιτικής icp-forum.gr)

Greece assumes BSEC chairmanship

Greece has assumed, the rotating chairmanship of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation, at a special ceremony, during the 22nd meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs , held in Sofia, Bulgaria on May 28.
“It is our objective to establish the Greek Chairmanship-in-Office of the BSEC as a turning point for the entire region towards Green Development.
Its central theme will be Black Sea turns Green,” Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis stressed in his address to the meeting upon the assumption of the chairmanship.
He also noted that the emphasis on “green development” will highlight the comparative advantages of the Black Sea region in terms of environmental protection, culture, tourism, alternative energy sources and new technologies. 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM George Papandreou at Europarliament

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) “If we appeal to the IMF, they will ask us for nothing more (no extra measures). But I would prefer a European solution. I would prefer a European solution as part of the eurozone, as a European, as an ardent European myself, and being able to show the world that Europe can act together,” Prime Minister George A. Papandreou said yesterday addressing the Special Committee on the Financial, Economic and Social Crisis of the European Parliament.
He further noted that, in the debate that goes around the world whether Europe will fail or whether Europe is on the map, more Europe rather than less is needed.

Regarding the financial situation in Greece, the premier stressed that “we are not asking for help, as some reckless country just wanting to live off the wealth of others.[…] What we are saying is we need the strong political support in order to make these necessary reforms, making sure that we are not going to pay more than necessary in order to get these reforms enacted.”
See also: President of the European Parliament, Buzek on the meeting with Prime Minister of Greece ; Common statement by Elmar Brok MEP, Marietta Giannakou MEP and Ioannis Kasoulides MEP; Othmar Karas MEP, “Greece is not begging for money
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE Group), Papandreou outlines austerity to EP special committee ; Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE President) Angela Merkel’s lack of solidarity with Greece is shocking, states Guy Verhofstadt

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)

Government announced austerity plan

» PM: “Sacrifices will Bear Fruits”

The government announced yesterday an additional set of measures bound to slash the double-digit public deficit.
Speaking yesterday at a Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Papandreou said that the emphasis is now shifting to what the European Union will do. 
The new measures aim at bringing into public coffers some €4.8 billion, amount which corresponds to 2% of the country’s GDP.  

» Pay Cuts

In particular, the new measures include a 30% pay cut of public sector’s supplements allocated annually, and a 12% across the board cut of public servants’ benefits. Moreover, subsidies to public entities and their social security funds will be reduced by 10%.
Any additional remuneration in the public sector will be trimmed by 50%, and compensation for overtime work will shrink by 30%.

Executive bonuses in the public sector will be abolished and the Public Investment Budget will be curtailed by 5% (€500 million). As of 2011, the ratio for public sector hirings will be one for every five retirees.

» Taxation

VAT is expected to rise at all cases by an average 1% to 2% and an extra levy on fuel, cigarettes, liqueur and luxury products will be imposed.
A one-off tax of 1% on personal incomes above €100.000 will also be introduced, together with a 15% rise in taxation of offshore companies’ real estate property.
Kathimerini daily: Further Cuts and Tax Hikes Announced
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM George Papandreou in Moscow

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou arrived in Moscow yesterday for a two-day working visit during which he will be holding meetings with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to discuss economic, commercial, military and political issues.
Speaking to the Itar-Tass news agency, ahead of the visit, George Papandreou said that the level of Greek-Russian relations is excellent while he described relations between the European Union and Russia as having strategic importance.
In another interview with the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti, the premier stressed that Greece is expecting political support and not economic aid from the European Union.
 “Greece did not appeal for economic aid to the international community or to the European Union. Greece intends and is capable of solving its problems alone,” the prime minister said.
Referring to the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline, Papandreou said that its construction can begin in six months.

PM Papandreou meeting with French President Sarkozy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou flew to France yesterday, for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy – on an array of issues, focused mostly on economic matters – ahead of today’s European Council meeting.
After his meeting with the French president, Papandreou stated that the Greek government is committed to taking all necessary measures to fix Greece’s public finances.
 “We are ready to take any measures in order to cut public deficit to 8.7% of GDP in 2010 from 12.7% in 2009 and to meet the commitments the government has undertaken in its Stability and Growth Programme.”
Besides the pressing deficit and credit crisis burdening Greece, Papandreou said issues dealing with the Balkans, the Cyprus problem, climate change and even Europe’s position on the international stage were discussed.
Kathimerini daily: Premier talks tough but EU may offer help; Youtube.com: Greek prime minister in France for debt talks

Tax and spending policy

» PM: Tackling Economic Woes

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou chaired a Cabinet meeting that discussed the draft tax bill and public-sector incomes policy.
He said that the government’s efforts to tackle the country’s economic problems will focus on three axes: reducing public debt, promoting growth, and accelerating legislative and institutional measures.
Papandreou stressed that the government’s primary duty was to save the economy, striving for fair solutions that would protect the lower and middle classes as much as possible.

» FinMin: New Tax Rates

A range of public spending cuts and tax adjustments were presented by the government yesterday, following an announcement last week by the premier that drastic measures would be taken to prevent Greece from defaulting.
Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou unveiled more specific policies, which included plans to cut the salaries of the premier and his ministers, a moratorium on hiring in the public sector this year – excluding however health services –  as well as changes to the tax system, which will now contain more tax brackets and will lead to higher earners paying more.

President @ World Future Energy Summit

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) A change of the energy and development model with extensive use of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) could decisively contribute to combating inequalities and advancing social cohesion at local, regional, national and global level, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said yesterday (January 18), addressing the 3rd World Future Energy Summit, that opened in Abu Dhabi, UAE (January 18-21).

Papoulias – a keynote speaker at the summit- stressed that “global leaders are obliged to respond to the climate challenge, and, instead of limiting themselves to a ‘least common denominator’ agreement, they should proceed to a global, comprehensive, and legally binding agreement with specific targets and timetables.”
Every crisis entails an opportunity, and this crisis entails an opportunity for the adoption of policies and measures for the promotion of RES and energy efficiency, which can play a decisive role in the global economy’s exit from the crisis and a speedier recovery, the President noted.

» Papoulias – Erdogan Meeting

On the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit, Papoulias met with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Ergodan, who was also a keynote speaker at the summit.
The two leaders held a private 40-minute meeting during which Papoulias informed the Turkish premier that an answer to his letter to the Greek Prime Minister is to be expected in the next few days, while Erdogan expressed a desire to visit Athens in the near future.

Greek foreign policy in 2010

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas outlined Greece’s foreign policy priorities for 2010 during a press conference held yesterday.

Together with Deputy Minister Spyros Kouvelis, Droutsas highlighted that protecting Greece’s sovereignty and putting an end to past inertia will constitute the ultimate objective for the country’s foreign policy.
Referring to issues of particular national interest, Droutsas stressed that Greece has conveyed a message of friendship and peace to Turkey and expects the latter to respond to it.
The alternate minister mentioned the possibility of a meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister sometime in the near future.
On the Cyprus issue, underlined the government’s commitment to actively helping Cyprus with actions rather than words, pointing out that the first foreign visit carried out by Prime Minister George Papandreou had been to Cyprus.
As regards to the country’s relations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the alternate minister reiterated that Greece enters negotiations with an open mind and keeps an edifying stance on the matter.
Droutsas pointed out that in the communiqué forwarded by the European Union in December, it was made clear that Greece’s support to FYROM’s European course depends on reaching a viable solution to the name issue.
Greek News Agenda:  Greek Foreign Policy- Challenges and Prospects

Prime Minister`s Belgrade Visit

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou paid a short visit to Belgrade on January 4 to address the Annual Conference of the Ambassadors of Serbia. During his visit, the premier met with Serbia’s President and Prime Minister, Boris Tadic and Mirko Cvetkovic.

Speaking after his meeting with the Serb President, Papandreou said that bilateral relations are excellent and noted that his presence in Belgrade signals the beginning of an effort to enable the western Balkans to join the European Union in 2014.
“Greece is in the front line of the initiative that constitutes a basic aim for peace, cooperation, and stability in the region,” Papandreou said. 
Addressing the 3rd Congress of Serbia’s ambassadors, Papandreou said that 2014 is a crucial year for the EU accession of the Western Balkan states, stressing that this region has to make big steps forward and leave behind the wars and conflicts of the past.
The premier also referred to “global governance that is in the making,” stressing, among other things, that “national states are gradually becoming incapable of handling global problems by themselves, such as climatic change, immigration and organised crime,” and called for global cooperation and regional alliances. 
See also: Athens News Agency: PM reiterates support for Serbia’s EU course

OSCE Ministerial Council in Athens

» Papoulias Inaugurates OSCE Meeting

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias inaugurated yesterday the 17th Ministerial Council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), taking place in Athens (1-2/12).
Papoulias welcomed delegates from the OSCE’ s 56 member states and described the international meeting as “an important political event and an opportunity to strengthen peaceful cooperation and promote the common goals of the member states, in order to reach tangible and substantive conclusions.”

» Papandreou’ s Address

The Corfu Process needs to be taken a step further in order to meet the challenges to European security in the 21st century, OSCE chairman-in-office, Greece’s Prime minister and Foreign minister George Papandreou stressed, addressing the first plenary session of the organisation’s 17th ministerial council.
“We have to agree on important decisions in the next two days to strengthen co-operative security across the OSCE area, to shape the work of our organization, and to create a strong foundation for Kazakhstan to build upon as it assumes the OSCE Chairmanship on January 1,” Papandreou said.
He also expressed his hope that a constructive spirit will prevail during the two-day deliberations of the meeting.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Speech of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Greece Papandreou, to the 1st Plenary session of the 17th OSCE Ministerial Council
See also Project Syndicate: Renewing Europe’s Security Dialogue by George Papandreou

» Sideline Meetings

On the sidelines of the OSCE ministerial council, Papandreou met with the foreign ministers of Finland, Alexander Stubb and Kazakhstan, Kanat Saudabayev, who together form the current OSCE “troika.”
Alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas had a meeting with FYROM’s FM Antonio Milososki while the premier is scheduled to meet today with the foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey, Sergei Lavrov and Ahmet Davutoglou respectively.
At the end of the first day of meetings, the Greek OSCE chairmanship hosted a formal reception for the visiting diplomatic delegations at the Acropolis Museum.

Prespes Lake Preservation Agreement

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The prime ministers of Greece, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania, on November 27, sent a joint letter to the UN Secretary General, the European Union and the Danish prime minister regarding the environmental protection of the Prespes Lake region shared by all three countries.
After the tripartite informal meeting in a lake-side village on the Greek side, Greek premier George Papandreou told reporters that the three leaders agreed to sign an agreement – in early February 2010 – to enhance the environmental protection of the Prespes Lake region.
They also promised to promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation in water management and take measures to tackle pollution and soil erosion. 
Papandreou also discussed with his FYROM counterpart, Nikola Gruevski, investment projects, the possibility of abolishing visas for FYROM nationals, as well as the “name issue,” for which the Greek premier said that new impetus should be given to the ongoing talks for its resolution.
With his Albanian counterpart, Sali Berisha, the Greek premier discussed economic relations, and minority and immigration issues. 
UNESCO World Heritage: The area of the Prespes Lakes 
Greek News Agenda: Meeting @ Prespes

Ahead of OSCE Ministerial Meeting

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) In a press conference held on the premises of Greece’s Permanent Mission to the OSCE in Vienna, Ambassador Mara Marinaki set out the Greek chairmanship’s goals for the organisation’s 17th Ministerial Council meeting (December 1-2).   The Council will review the progress achieved on a number of OSCE’s engagements, including the progress on the so called “frozen conflicts” (Georgia Moldova, Nagorno-Karabakh). The Greek Chairmanship will then seek the adoption of a common declaration.  Marinaki pointed out the difficulty of such a venture, given that decisions are taken unanimously and that last time a common declaration was adopted by all OSCE members was in 2002 (10th Meeting of the Ministerial Council, Porto).  Answering questions by the press, Marinaki noted that all OSCE members support the Greek chairmanship’s efforts as well as the promotion of the “Corfu agenda.” 
The Ministerial Council is the central decision-making and governing body of the 56-member Organisation, hosted by the country which holds the annually rotating chairmanship of the organization.

Greek-Russian Talks ahead of OSCE Meet

Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Russian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Vladimir Titov

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Thursday had a working lunch with Russian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Vladimir Titov (right), who is visiting Athens.
The two men earlier discussed matters of bilateral cooperation within the field of the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) pact and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Droutsas is expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the works of the OSCE ministerial meeting that will take place in Athens at the beginning of December.
According to the Greek foreign ministry, the role of Greece in European energy security will receive special attention in the forthcoming Greek-Russian talks of December.

Macedonian Diaspora’s Meeting

pap-lit1(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias called on the FYROM leadership to abandon its “irredentist visions” and consent to a “mutually acceptable solution on the name issue that will respect history.”    Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 10th International Convention of Macedonian Associations and the 63rd Convention of the Pan-Macedonian Association of the United States, held in Litochoro, Pieria prefecture, on July 11, the President thanked the Macedonians who live overseas for the strength and determination with which they defend Greece’s interests.   “We all share a common vision for our country’s future and the future of the Balkans” – a vision of peace, prosperity, economic growth and cooperation in the framework of a united Europe,” the President noted.

Crete International Freediving Meeting

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The 2nd Mediterranean Freediving Meeting and International Depth Competition are being held on the island of Crete between the 22nd June and the 5th of July 2009. The meeting is organised as an event for freedivers from around the world to meet, train, and enjoy the wonderful hospitality of Crete. The 1st Mediterranean Freediving Meeting is based in the picturesque seaside village of Sougia in the south of Chania and includes two weeks of organised depth training followed by a Mediterranean Depth Competition with World Record Status (June 29 and Sunday July 5).