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Greece`s new government

The members of Greece’s new government were unveiled yesterday afternoon, following a meeting among Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Evangelos Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis -the respective leaders of PASOK and Democratic Left- that support the coalition government. The new government consists of 39 members of which 25 are New Democracy party deputies and 14 members are non-elected technocrats.
 
Non Executive Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of Greece and University of Athens Professor Vassilis Rapanos has been appointed Economy and Finance Minister; Dimitris Avramopoulos is  the new Foreign Minister, and Kostis Hatzidakis, Development, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister.
 
The members of the new government were sworn in  in the presence of Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, with the exception of the Finance Ministry’s leadership. Addressing the first Cabinet meeting, the new PM said that the government, which has full power as stipulated by the Constitution ,”has no grace period.” He also announced a 30% cut in the ministers’ salaries.
 
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)
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Parliamentary Elections 2012 in Greece – Results

According to Interior Ministry results of the Parliamentary Elections 2012 that took place (on May 6) throughout the country, seven parties are entering the Hellenic  Parliament.

With 110% of the vote counted, the results are as follows: New Democracy (ND) polls first with 18.85% securing 108 seats, the Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA) is in second place with 16.78% of vote and 52 seats, PASOK is third with 13.18% and 41 seats, the Independent Greeks party gets 10.6% and 33 seats, the Communist Party of Greece gets 8.48% of vote and 26 seats, Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) 6.97% and 21 seats, and Democratic Left 6.1% of vote and 19 seats.

The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and Eco-Greens with 2.90 % and 2.93% respectively did not manage to pass the minimum 3% threshold, thus failing to enter Parliament.

From the 9.949.401 registered citizens, 65.10% participated in the electoral process and 34.9% abstained, while invalid/blank votes reached 2.36%.

International Court of Justice Ruling on Distomo Case

In an announcement, issued on February 3, concerning an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling upholding Germany’s position, that it enjoys state immunity from being sued in foreign courts by victims of Nazi atrocities during World War II, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that the Greek government will study this Judgement closely, in the light of its firm and longstanding position that the matter of German compensations remains open.
The judgement affects the case of the south-central Greek village of Distomo, where Nazi troops killed 214 civilians on June 10, 1944, one of the numerous instances of WWII atrocities in occupied Greece. The court case concerned the confiscation of German property on Italian soil for reparations to be paid to victims of Distomo.

  • MPs Raise War Reparations Issue

Meanwhile, in Athens, 28 MPs from PASOK, New Democracy (ND), Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) as well as independent deputies tabled a motion in Parliament requesting a discussion on issues concerning the so-called German occupation loan from Greece during WWII, as well as the issue of war reparations to victims of Nazi atrocities and stolen treasures from the country.
In a letter addressed to the presidents of competent parliamentary committees, the MPs called on Parliament to adopt a clear stance on this “crucial national issue.”
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Local Elections Run-off

Following the second round of local elections yesterday, the ruling PASOK party won the majority of regional governorships (8 to 5).
In municipal elections and -despite a high abstention rate- there was a change of leadership in the three major cities.
In Athens, Giorgos Kaminis, the former Ombudsman, won the mayorship, with the support of Pasok, after defeating the incumbent New Democracy (ND) mayor, Nikitas Kaklamanis.
In Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, the independent Yiannis Boutaris, supported by Pasok, defeated ND-backed candidate Costas Gioulekas, while in Pireus, Vassilis Michaloliakos, supported by ND defeated Pasok candidate Yiannis Michas.
Commenting on the results, Prime Minister George Papandreou said that the citizens “rejected the sirens of destabilisation and gave the government a clear three years of work to enable it to continue the effort for the country’s salvation and recovery.”
The premier also called on all political parties to “assume responsibility” and work together with the aim of saving the country. Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras said that “the second round confirmed the political conclusions of the first Sunday” and gave the opportunity to his party to emerge “renewed, strong and responsible.”
For more information: Ministry of Interior, Decentralization and E-Government: Regional & Municipal Elections 2010 Results (in Greek); Kathimerini Daily: Pasok gets regional upper hand; YouTube: PM’s nationwide televised press statement (in Greek)
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

New OSCE PA President: Petros Efthymiou

Ruling PASOK party deputy Petros Efthymiou was elected as the new president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), during the forum’s 19th annual session.
Efthymiou, who was a Vice-President in the Assembly, was elected with 130 votes, against 64 of Senator Consiglio Di Nino (Canada).
Participants at the 19th session discussed a wide range of issues, amongst which the situation in Kyrgyzstan, the Parliamentary Assembly’s involvement in the Corfu process, the peace process in the Middle East, nuclear security, cyber-crime.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM George Papandreou Interview at “Politique Internationale”

Few countries have suffered from the global economic crisis as much as Greece. Not only did it feel the full force of the financial earthquake, but it also found itself under attack by international speculators.
Today, as the IMF and the European Union prepare to help, the country is licking its wounds and trying to understand how things got so bad.
George Papandreou is not the last to ask the question. Elected prime minister in October 2009, the leader of the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) is fiercely critical of the previous center-right New Democracy administration, which he believes is guilty of setting up a system of cronyism and of knowingly underestimating the public debt and budget deficit. But the new head of government is an energetic man.
In this exclusive interview, he outlines his strategy for resolving his country’s daunting problems.
http://www.politiqueinternationale.com/revue/article.php?id_revue=127&id=901&content=synopsis

Papandreou in “Le Monde”

French daily “Le Monde” portrays George Papandreou in an article (‘L’ homme qui fait trembler l’euro’, February 5) describing Greece’s current affairs and Papandreou’s personal and political career over the years:
“Le monde le regarde. Le destin de l’euro tient à lui. Elu depuis tout juste quatre mois, le premier ministre grec est le point de mire des dirigeants et des marchés de la planète, pressé de questions affolées sur la situation dont il a hérité : un pays au bord de la faillite, discrédité sur les marchés, exposé à la spéculation, étranglé par une dette et un déficit public colossaux, un Etat dysfonctionnel, un système de fraude généralisé.
Le raffinement est son arme. Costume bleu marine, chemise blanche, cravate délicatement violette, Georges Papandréou a la silhouette longue et distinguée, la moustache taillée au millimètre, la politesse souriante, l’anglais parfait du brillant élève passé par Harvard et la London School of Economics, la graisse évanouie dans des heures quotidiennes de fitness et de cyclisme à haute dose. Si peu balkanique, si différent.
Devenir premier ministre n’était pas sa vocation, lui qui, à la fin des années 1960, étudiait la sociologie aux Etats-Unis et manifestait, cheveux longs et guitare rock en bandoulière, contre la guerre du Vietnam. “Si la Grèce avait été à l’époque un pays normal, dit-il dans son bureau à Athènes, je ne serais pas entré en politique.”
Son nom a fini par le rattraper. Celui de son grand-père, Georges Papandréou, trois fois premier ministre, centriste, figure mythique de la politique des années 1960. Celui de son père, Andréas Papandréou, ministre et économiste renommé, fondateur du Pasok (parti socialiste grec), et premier ministre dans les années 1980. Quant à lui, ce rêveur affable et modeste que l’on appellera longtemps Yorgakis (petit Georges), personne n’imaginait qu’il dirigerait le pays à son tour, dernier-né de l’une des trois dynasties familiales qui, avec les Caramanlis et les Mitsotakis, se partagent le pouvoir en Grèce depuis l’après-guerre.
Il a 14 ans ce 21 avril 1967. Le coup d’Etat des colonels, prélude à la dictature qui durera sept ans, vient d’avoir lieu. Les militaires viennent chercher son père, Andréas, caché sur le toit de la maison. L’un d’eux lui colle sa mitraillette sur la tempe. “Où est-il ?” L’enfant ne répond pas. La mitraillette frémit. Andréas se rend. Pour lui, c’est la prison. Puis, pour toute la famille, l’exil.
Georges Papandréou vient d’ailleurs. Avant la guerre, son père Andréas, déjà forcé à quitter la Grèce pour des raisons liées à ses activités trotskistes, était devenu citoyen américain, avait enseigné l’économie à l’université de Berkeley, puis en Suède et au Canada. Georges a une mère américaine, est né au Minnesota, a grandi en Californie et étudié dans l’Illinois, à Londres, à Stockholm. Il parle à quasi-égalité l’anglais, le grec et le suédois.
A son retour en Grèce, en 1974, la dictature abolie, il découvre un pays où tout est à réinventer. Et une élite forcée comme lui à l’exil, revenue “avec des idées nouvelles, la capacité de comparer, de tirer réflexion des contrastes.”
Etre différent, c’est son atout. “L’étranger” est un drôle de zèbre, mélange de “libéral” à l’américaine et de social-démocrate suédois, défenseur des libertés individuelles, de l’Etat-providence, de l’environnement, du progrès technique. Théodoros Pangalos, vice-premier ministre, s’amuse à rappeler ces années 1990 où Georges était ministre dans le gouvernement de son père, Andréas Papandréou : “En réunion, Georges prenait des notes sur un ordinateur portable. Nous, nous avions nos feuilles et nos crayons. On se donnait des coups de coude : “Regarde, le petit Georges joue, il n’a toujours pas grandi !”. En fait, comme toujours, il avait plusieurs longueurs d’avance…”
Au sein de la dynastie Papandréou aussi, il fait la différence. Après Georges “l’ancien”, le centriste anticommuniste, après Andréas le tempétueux tribun socialiste aux accents nationalistes, Yorgakis, président de l’Internationale socialiste depuis 2006, conquiert les Grecs par un agenda progressiste inhabituel. Il est hostile au blairisme, croit en la primauté de la politique sur le marché, préconise une société ouverte et multiculturelle, une économie tournée vers la valeur ajoutée et la croissance verte. “Je suis fier de porter mon nom mais je gouvernerai à ma façon. Comme Sinatra, je pourrai dire : “I did it my way”.”
Son style politique, il l’a déjà esquissé. Ministre de l’éducation, en 1988, il s’affronte au conservatisme ambiant et à la puissance de l’Eglise orthodoxe en défendant les droits des homosexuels. Ministre des affaires étrangères très estimé, en 1999, il milite en faveur de l’Europe et tempère l’anti-américanisme, sport national en Grèce. Il établit des conditions de dialogue avec la soeur ennemie, la Turquie, soutient la candidature de celle-ci à l’Union européenne (UE), contribue à l’intégration de Chypre dans l’UE.
“Yorgakis sait écouter, il ne fait pas l’intelligent, il prend calmement des décisions audacieuses. Il nous change de ce théâtre balkanique dont nous sommes tous fatigués”, témoigne l’un de ses anciens collègues au gouvernement, Nikos Dimadis. “La Grèce a plus que jamais besoin d’un dirigeant différent, citoyen du monde, qui a sur son pays une pensée globale”, analyse l’éditorialiste de centre droit, Georges Kirtsos.
Depuis quatre mois, Georges Papandréou est parti en guerre contre un Etat pléthorique, contre la corruption et l’économie parallèle. La droite l’accuse déjà d’immobilisme. Des mouvements sociaux se préparent contre les mesures d’austérité annoncées.
Certains le craignent plus visionnaire que pragmatique, plus théoricien que politique. Mais la Grèce n’a plus le choix, la zone euro non plus. Le petit Georges est peut-être la dernière chance. Lui-même en a fait un slogan : “Nous devons changer, ou sombrer.””
(
LeMonde.fr)

Papoulias re-elected President of the Republic

 Parliament on Wednesday re-elected the uncontested incumbent President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias to a second term in Greece’s highest office, with an overwhelming majority of 266 votes in the 300-member House among the 298 MPs in attendance, while 32 MPs simply declared their presence.
Papoulias was re-elected with the votes of the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), main opposition New Democracy (ND) and smaller opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) parties’ MPs in a roll-call vote during a special session of the unicameral parliament.
 The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) MPs did not vote for the incumbent, but simply declared themselves present when called.
Papoulias is the sixth President of the Republic since the restoration of democracy in Greece in 1974, following Mihalis Stasinopoulos, Constantine Tsatsos, Constantine Karamanlis, Christos Sartzetakis and Costis Stephanopoulos.
 He will be sworn in for his second term on Friday, March 12 at noon.(Πηγή: ANA-MPA)

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.

New Maritime and Fisheries Commissioner

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso unveiled on November 27, the members of the new Commission.

Ruling PASOK deputy Maria Damanaki was nominated European commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries, a key portfolio with particular interest for Greece, where commercial shipping makes a significant contribution to the economy.
Kathimerini daily (28.11): PASOK MP Maria Damanaki nominated commissioner for maritime affairs, fisheries
Greek News Agenda: EU on a new path

International Media on Greece

 

 

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) In their article “Can Greece lead the way” (9.11.2009) for “openDemocracy,” Anthony Barnett and Mary Kaldor write about the fact that though the left across Europe flounders in the wake of the economic crisis – where the centre right is resurgent – the Greek socialist party under George Papandreou could prove the exception with its dramatic election victory.    
They argue that Papandreou’s goal is an innovative form of progressive government that combines green development, democratic openness, and international reconciliation.
“Papandreou is an exceptionally original and open-minded politician, wishing to lead both Greece and PASOK towards a genuinely far-sighted response to the financial and environmental crisis and the international challenges facing Europe.”

Greece’s New Parliament Sworn in

Greece's new 300-member parliament that emerged from the October 4 general elections was sworn-in on Wednesday morning, in a special ceremony in the unicameral House. (ANA-MPA/Aliki Eleftheriou)

Greece's new 300-member parliament that emerged from the October 4 general elections was sworn-in on Wednesday morning, in a special ceremony in the unicameral House. (ANA-MPA/Aliki Eleftheriou)

(ANA)  Greece’s new 300-member parliament that emerged from the October 4 general elections was sworn-in on Wednesday morning, in a special ceremony in the unicameral House.  The swearing-in took place after the traditional blessing, officiated by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece.  “I swear in the name of the Holy Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity to keep faith in my Country and in the democratic form of government, obedience to the Constitution and the laws and to discharge conscientiously my duties,” the MPs pledged, with the exception of PASOK MPs Nikos Sifounakis, Maria Damanaki, Spyros Kouvelis and Maya Tsokli, and the MPs of the two Left parties, while the two Muslim deputies elected on the main opposition PASOK party’s tickets in Xanthi and Rodopi took a similar oath with their hand on the Koran.  The MPs of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), with the exception Liana Kanelli, did not take a religious oath, while the MPs of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) did not attend the religious party of the ceremony.  The KKE and SYRIZA parliamentary groups submitted letters to the parliament presidium endorsing a political oath instead of the religious oath, which is set out in the Greek constitution.  Ruling PASOK holds 160 seats in the new parliament, followed by main opposition New Democracy (ND) with 91 seats, the KKE with 21 seats, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) with 15 seats, and SYRIZA with 13 seats.

Papandreou’s PASOK Scores Landslide Win

Papandreou(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party and its leader George Papandreou posted a landslide election victory on Sunday in Greece’s snap election, garnering 43.94% of the vote, against 33.48% for New Democracy with 99.04% of votes counted. This translates into 160 seats in Parliament – out of a total of 300 – for PASOK, 91 for New Democracy, 21 for the Communist Party of Greece (7.54%), 15 for the Popular Orthodox Rally (5.63%), and 13 for the Radical Left Coalition (4.59%). Voter turnout totalled 70.91%.  “Our responsibility is to change the direction in which the country is going,” said PASOK leader and Prime-Minister elect George Papandreou in a brief statement during which he promised to “put smiles back on the faces of Greeks” and to “put the citizen at the heart” of his government’s actions.  Papandreou – a former foreign minister – received several congratulatory phone calls from world leaders including US President Barack Obama, who said he wanted to be amongst the first to congratulate the PASOK leader, along with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.   Apart from being a victory for PASOK and Papandreou, who will become the third member of his family to govern Greece, the result of yesterday’s election was a defeat for New Democracy, which saw its share of the popular vote decline from more than 45% 2004, when it was first elected to power under the leadership of Kostas Karamanlis, to 41,8% in 2007 and to just over 33% yesterday. Karamanlis announced that he would be stepping down as the president of New Democracy, a position he held since 1997.  Ministry of Interior: National Elections 2009 Kathimerini daily: Papandreou and PASOK sweep to victory; World Media Reports (Google): PASOK wins Greek election  Greek News Agenda: Special Issue: Parliamentary Election in Greece 2009

Papandreou Pledges Support to Cyprus

Papandreou Cyprus(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Main opposition PASOK Party leader George Papandreou visited Cyprus yesterday to attend a memorial service for the late Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Yannos Kranidiotis.  Papandreou extended his gratitude for Kranidiotis’ work and his support to Cyprus’ president Demetris Christofias concerning the settlement of the Cyprus issue.  In his speech – three months ahead of the European Commission’s release of Turkey’s progress Report – Papandreou said that a new “road map” is needed for Turkey’s accession negotiations course and that he would be personally involved in providing his insight.

Greece: Parliament’s Disolution Ahead o the Elections

karapapoulias1(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias received yesterday (September 3) the Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis at the Presidential Mansion.  Karamanlis formally requested the President’s approval to dissolve the parliament on Monday. The decision to call early elections on October 4 “was made to serve the nation’s interest,” Karamanlis said following talks with Papoulias who gave his consent adding that decisions of such kind belong to the Prime Minister and should point to the people’s best interest.  The Prime Minister stressed that the reasons for this decision are strictly linked to the challenge of dealing with the global economic slump and its ramifications on the Greek economy. “The following two years are decisive for the Greek economy and especially 2010,” the premier concluded.  After the meeting, Karamanlis chaired an Inner Cabinet meeting and asked his ministers to resign. Official pre-election period opens on Monday September 7, in view of October 4 parliamentary elections.   Kathimerini Daily: PM appeals to voters as date set for elections; Secretariat General of Information – About Greece: Political System and Elections in Greece 

Socialists’ Meetings in the Balkans

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  President of Socialist International and leader of the main opposition PASOK Party, George Papandreou will address the Socialist International Council Meeting in the Republic of Montenegro (June 29-30).  The meeting will focus on ways to deal with the economic meltdown, climate change, regional conflicts, recent developments in Iran and illegal migration.  Visiting Balkan countries ahead of the Council’s works, Papandreou first arrived in Albania where he held talks with Edi Rama, head of the Socialist Party of Albania and current Mayor of Tirana, as well as with his Beatitude, Archbishop Anastasios of the Orthodox Church of Albania.  Next stop for SI president was Serbia, where he met with President Boris Tadic. Both in Albania and in Serbia, Papandreou endorsed the countries’ European perspective. Especially in the case of Serbia, Papandreou acknowledged that the country has taken important steps in terms of reforms suitable to an EU candidacy.”

Papandreou at “Economist” Conference

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou addressed a dinner held in his honour on Monday (25.5.2009)  evening by the Economist Roundtable and underlined the need for the implementation of a new growth model in Greece, Europe and the world. “Once, the European Union used to say ‘never again war’, but today it could say “never again barbarism which is brought by inequality, poverty, climate change, human trafficking, illiteracy and the trade of weapons of mass destruction,” he said.  Athens News Agency: Papandreou addresses Economist conference

Euro – Elections Campaign in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The campaign for the upcoming elections for the European Parliament –which in Greece take place on June 7- is official underway with the announcement yesterday (17.5), by their respective leaders, of ruling New Democracy (ND) and main opposition PASOK parties’ candidates lists.  ND’s party list is headed by former education minister Marietta Giannakou while PASOK’s list is headed by its current spokesman, George Papaconstantinou.   Unveiling his party’s candidates, Karamanlis stressed that ND’s nominees constitute a strong and renewed team, capable of defending both national positions and EU principles. During the previous week, the Greek Communist Party (KKE), the Coalition of Radical Left(SYRIZA), the People’s Orthodox Rally (LAOS), the Ecologists-Greens and Action party(DRASSI) had unveiled their respective candidates list.  Meanwhile, the office of the European Parliament in Athens is inaugurating on May 21 the “Citizens Euro-Parliament,” a multi-media kiosk where citizens from the 27 member states of the EU can express their views and expectations by sending a recorded a video-message to the EU’s decision-making bodies.

Athens: Social Democracy International Syposium

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Socialist International (SI) and PASOK party President George Papandreou addressed the International Athens Symposium  (May 12), titled “Social democracy and the challenges of the future. What will the progressive model for Europe be?” at the Athens Concert Hall.   In his speech, Papandreou stressed that the challenge for the European socialist parties today is the quality of democracy.  The goal should be to guarantee social rights, access to knowledge and green development. Prominent European politicians, including French socialist Segolene Royal, former Italian premier Massimo d’ Alema and former Spanish PM Felipe Gonzalez also attended the symposium. 

The Athens Summit 2009

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The two-day international Athens Summit 2009 conference on “The road to Copenhagen” opened yesterday with speakers focusing on managing the security of energy supply, providing energy security in Europe and beyond, and assessing the role of the countries of Southeastern Europe as a gateway to energy security and diversification.  Senior governmental officials, corporate leaders, financiers, and experts participate in the summit to discuss how the twin goals of energy security and managing climate change can be achieved to the benefit of all people. 

Papoulias’ Address

The inaugural speech was delivered by the President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias. The President called for the collaboration of social forces beyond political parties for an economic and social vision to ensure viable development and protection of the environment, despite possible confrontation with vested interests. 

Papandreou’s Green Diplomacy

For his part, main opposition PASOK and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou stressed that Greece should take all necessary measures to increase “green” investments.  He called for a “turn toward quality products and the use of new technologies in all sectors (transport, health, tourism),” underlining the importance of investing in human resources through education.  He also noted that “Greece can play an important role as regards cooperation with the SE European countries and the Mediterranean region through ‘green’ diplomacy,” he stated.