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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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PM`s George Papandreou visit to Poland

Prime Minister George Papandreou visited Poland on April 7 for talks with his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk and the country’s President Bronislaw Komorowski, in view of the Polish presidency of the EU, during the second term of 2011.
The two Premiers discussed the priorities of the Polish Presidency, especially in what concerns the Common Agricultural Policy, migration, as well as developments in the Middle East. Papandreou also made a special reference to his great-grand father’s Polish origins and the flourishing Polish community in Greece. 
(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)

PM George Papandreou & the Media

Prime Minister George Papandreou addressed yesterday the NewsXchange 2010 Conference currently being held in Athens.
In his speech, the premier commended the role of media in highlighting several of the underlying causes of the financial crisis but also pointed to some of the negative stereotypes that resurfaced in of the international media’s reporting on Greece, during this last year.
“Your job is to report the facts as objectively as possible. My job is to be honest with you, with the Greek people, and of course with the international community, which is supporting us in this effort to deal with the crisis, present the facts as they are,” stressed the premier.
Youtube.com: PM’s Speech at NewsXchange 2010 Conference  
(Greek News Agenda)

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)

PM George Papandreou interviews at “El Pais” & “Al Jazeera”

Prime Minister Georges Papandreou was interviewed by the Spanish daily “El Pais” (May 23).

In a three page interview, the premier answered questions regarding the economic situation in Greece noting that the euro-zone has reached a tipping point which will bring it before an “historic reflection period.”
In the case of Greece, the international community did not react in a timely manner, it did not admit that the currency was under attack, and “there was the same fear as when a buffalo leaves the herd.”
Today, the country’s austerity plan is on the right track, but it is not enough if it is to be left without European support. For Papandreou, the support is necessary for all members so to act as deterrent of speculation. “Spain and Portugal were not in a bad situation yet they fell victims of the ambient hysteria.”
In related news, in an interview with Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips  on May 20 in Athens, Papandreou said that Greece will eventually emerge from the crisis with a more viable economy, determined to say “never again.”   
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)