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The Stability Programme was submitted

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The cabinet met yesterday  to approve the updated Stability and Growth Programme (SGP) 2008-2011, which was submitted today (15.1) to the European Commission in Brussels.

“We will achieve fiscal consolidation within three years. […] We can do it; this target is feasible,” said Prime Minister George Papandreou.
The premier added that the Stability and Growth Programme does not contain immediate fiscal adjustment measures only, but also a substantial part of the plan for the restructuring of the country.
On his part, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou stressed that the deficit would definitely be cut, as Greece’s economy is expected to expand in the coming next years.
“The Programme was prepared with the decisive involvement of all ministries and it will be implemented through team-work,” said Papaconstantinou.
Kathimerini Daily: Cabinet stands by recovery plan; Ministry of Economy and Finance: Update of the Hellenic Stability and Growth Programme 2008-2011

PM George Papandreou: Economic crisis “a crucial national threat”

 

 (GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Prime Minister George Papandreou, addressing a cabinet meeting on Sunday, termed the economic and monetary crisis “a crucial national threat”.    Papandreou, however, expressed optimism over the favourable outcome of the struggle being waged by the government, calling on all Greeks and the mass media in particular to say “no to panic .”
The major changes that have been scheduled for 2010, which he termed a year of great changes and reforms, must be turned into practice as a precondition for this.
The prime minister made a positive assessment of the first 100 days of the country’s governance which, as he said, “we assumed in a deep and multifaceted crisis with a large size debt and deficits that were bequeathed to us by the previous government.”
He added that the economy alone was not at the root of problems, but the country’s way of governance as well.
Papandreou further said that during the first 100 days the “government stood at the level of its historical responsibility which is to have the citizen as its first concern,” adding that apart from changes in regional administration, great reforms and changes are also required in central administration.
He stressed that the changes will meet with great resistances but expressed certainty that they will have the approval of the Greek people.
Papandreou said that at the end of the coming week the stability and growth programme will be announced, as well as the proposals for government and legislative work that will be following in the near future.
He said he would be giving a press conference at the Zappion Mansion in the middle of the week and would be announcing the main conclusions on governance so far and priorities for the coming period, while calling on ministers to do the same in their field of responsibility.
 The prime minister also announced the creation of a “prestigious advisory committee” on the modernisation and operation of the government and institutional bodies with the principle “the citizen first” always being the target.
He stressed that the new architecture of self administration is part of the government’s overall planning so that on November 14, 2010, local administration elections will be held for the new strong municipalities and the regions.
Papandreou added that the “implementation of the great vision of the world of local administration will begin,” terming this task extremely difficult and for which the consent of all is required and that the government shall seek.
He further pointed out that resources for local administration will be secured in the framework of taxation policy and added that with the electoral law which will be voted in Parliament “a decisive blow will be dealt at black political money”.
Papandreou also referred to the government’s struggle for transparency and expressed satisfaction for the positive response met by his initiative to request from the President of the Republic to convene a meeting of party leaders.
Lastly, the prime minister also referred to the bomb attack that occurred in front of the Parliament building on Saturday, stressing that “no one and with no action can intimidate the country’s political world” and underlined that “we are not going to let such an action pass like this.”

Greece in ECOFIN: Adding Numbers Up

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Minister of Finance George Papaconstantinou participated at the European Council Economic and Financial Affairs meeting in Luxemburg (October 19-20).  The minister acknowledged that the budget deficit for 2009 will creep up to 12.5% of GDP, a figure which has been also confirmed by the Bank of Greece.  One third of this significant increase can be attributed to the economic crisis – GDP contracted by 1.5%, investment dropped by 20%, tourism by 15% and shipping revenue by 20%.  The rest can be equally attributed to expenditure excesses, as well as the revision of the way by which the deficit is measured.  Papaconstantinou is ready to negotiate a three-year extension for deficit curbing with the possibility of a further one-year extension.  “The first step is to decrease the deficit to a single digit figure” for 2010, said the minister. The government has pledged to present the Commission with a revised three-year Stability and Growth Programme (2008-2011).Thirteen out of sixteen countries of the eurozone will be put under EU deficit supervision. The European Commission estimates that public finances for all eurozone members will begin to recover by 2011 at the latest.  European Commission: Driving the European Recovery 

Children’s Corner at Cycladic Art Museum

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Starting from October, the Cycladic art Museum runs a recreational education programme for children, every week until May 2010. On Saturday mornings, young museum educators assisted by curators organise handcraft, painting and story-telling workshops drawing inspiration from the museum’s exhibits. Families may enjoy a guided tour of the museum while children participate in activities. The museum plans to enrich its programme with more happenings.  Founded in 1986, the Museum of Cycladic Art is dedicated to the study and promotion of ancient cultures of the Aegean and Cyprus, with special emphasis on Cycladic Art of the 3rd millennium BC. Apart from the permanent exhibitions, the museum hosts temporary displays focusing on modern art, thus exploring links between ancient cultures and modern artistic creation.

Wine Roads in Northern Greece

 (GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Encompassing Macedonia, Thrace and Epirus, the non-profit “Wine Producers’ Association of the Northern Greece Vineyard” supports the region’s tradition of vine growing and winemaking while offering Greeks and foreigners alike the opportunity to visit vineyards. The online directory “The Wine Roads of Northern Greece” offers detailed maps and travel-destination suggestions, highlighting vineyards and the general landscape of northern Greece. The northern Greece wine network features eight wine routes, leading from Mt Olympus, home of the Gods, and Zitsa in Epirus to Byzantine Thessaloniki. Others run from Amyntaio in the north to the Aegean playground of Halkidiki and the delightful, distant Thrace. Several Greek wineries are opening their gates on May 16 and 17 – part of the “Open Gates Programme” launched on the initiative of the European Network of Wine Cities – offering visitors the opportunity to feel the intoxicating aromas and flavours of Greek vineyards. Its objective is that each participating town create an event around wine so as to acquaint consumers with the production of this alcoholic beverage. More specifically, there will be two-day wine events all over Europe.

Alternative Tourism in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)       Dancing at the Waterfalls
The city of Edessa has launched an alternative tourist campaign by commissioning the Greek painter Giorgos Stathopoulos to produce a work of art which will be projected at nights at the city’s famous waterfalls. “We do not want to be just another tourist destination; we wish to offer our visitors such an experience that would render Edessa unforgettable and will bring them back to the city” said mayor Yiannis Sontras. His idea was to spend money on acquiring the rights to use the painting as the city’s symbol, instead of producing conventional tourist brochures. National Tourism Organisation of Greece: Greece’s tourist campaign
EDEN Awards
A number of projects aiming to promote alternative tourism opportunities in Greece has been funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Amongst these are projects related to the restoration of medieval castles, the construction of trekking routes and agro-tourism complexes. The region of Grevena – in northern Greece – won one of the 20 “European Destination of Excellence” EDEN awards last year at the European Annual Tourism Forum, launched by the European Commission to promote the development of alternative tourism, while the region of Florina won in 2007 an EDEN award as one of the “Best Emerging European Rural Destinations of Excellence.”
Green Passport
The “Green Passport Campaign” launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) aims at raising tourists’ awareness of their potential to contribute to sustainable development by making responsible holiday choices. To assist them, an online guide has been produced offering tourists useful tips on how to minimize the impact of their journeys on the environment. The guide will soon be available in Greek as the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage has undertaken its translation, showing that Greece is following a worldwide trend of growing ‘green tourism’ at rates that treble those of conventional mass tourism.   

Greece: Public Administration Reform

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  “The evolution of Public Administration in Greece into a strong, reliable and efficient mechanism that guarantees high-level services to the public, is the priority for which the Interior Ministry has been striving for the past five years,” Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on January 29, addressing an event on progress in the implementation of the Operational Programme “Public Administration Reform 2007-2013.”  Pavlopoulos noted that the opportunities provided by the Operational Programme “Administrative Reform 2007-2013, include measures facilitating pension payment distribution, a reduction by 25% of the bureaucratic cost of setting up a business, reduction by 50% of the time required to issue certificates, strict control on hospitals’ supplies, and substantive curbing of corruption, particularly through restricting civil servants’ personal contact with citizens during transactions. He added that the vision could be encapsulated as forming citizen-oriented, efficient, open and flexible governance.  Ministry of Interior: www.ypes.gr; General Secretariat for Public Administration and eGovernment: www.gspa.gr  National Strategic Reference Programme: Operational Programme –Public Eadministration Reform 2007-20013; Europe’s Information Society: ICT for Government and Public Services

Greece: Updated Stability & Growth Programme

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis chaired a meeting on Friday (30.1) of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Economy, which discussed the updated three-year stability programme that was later submitted to the EU. Presenting the updated Stability and Growth programme for the period 2008-2011, Economy and Finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou stressed that Greece is expected to be one of the five eurozone member-states to achieve positive economic growth rates in 2009. According to the programme, the fiscal deficit would be 3.7% in 2008 and 2009, falling to 3.2% in 2010 and 2.6% in 2011. The economy is expected to grow by 1.1% this year, 1.6% in 2010, reaching 2.3% in 2011, while employment is expected to grow by 0.2% this year and by 0.6% and 0.7% in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Unemployment is expected to grow from 7.5% in 2008 to 8.0% this year and to remain at this level until 2011, before beginning to fall. Ministry of Economy and Finance: Updated Stability and Growth Programme for 2008-11 (in Greek) & Fact Sheets

Greek Commander @ Helm of EU Naval Operation

The Council of the European Union adopted a Joint Action on an EU military operation on November 10 to tackle piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. Greek Commodore Antonios Papaioannou was appointed as the commander of EU naval forces in the area. The operation (EU NAVFOR, Somalia) under the code name “Atalanta” is the first naval operation launched by the European Union within the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), Javier Solana congratulated Papaioannou, adding that he brings “his considerable expertise and the experience of his national navy to his role as Force commander for this operation in a new area for the EU.”  The success of the operation will secure a safe passage for vulnerable vessels, including those of the United Nation’s food aid programme. Following the Governmental Council on Foreign Policy and National Defence’s meeting yesterday (12.11.2008), Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis announced that Greece will participate in the Atalanta operation. Ministry of Defense: Hellenic Navy & International Presence

Greek Life Insurance Policy Programme from “New York Life Insurance Company”

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The New York Life Insurance Company began selling life insurance policies in the Ottoman Empire in 1882. In connection with turmoil caused by the outbreak of World War I, however, New York Life stopped selling policies in Europe and in the Ottoman Empire after 1914. Various reference works and other sources indicate that many persons of Greek ancestry living in the Ottoman Empire at the outbreak of World War I were displaced or perished between 1915 and 1923. The company searched its records to locate all policies issued in the Ottoman Empire before 1915 insuring those of Greek heritage. New York Life paid benefits on many of those policies. However, it received no claims and thus paid no benefits or cash value on some of those policies, referred to as the “Greek Policies.”
In order to encourage claims upon the Greek Policies, New York Life has established the Greek Life Insurance Policy Programme. Descendants of persons insured under the Greek Policies may submit claims for benefits at: www.greekinsuranceclaims.com/en/board.php3
In order to be considered, the claim form and copies of all supporting documents must be mailed or e-mailed to the Claim Board by February 28, 2009.

Athens by Sound

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    Athens by Sound (www.athensbysound.gr) is the national participation of Greece in the 11th Biennale of Architecture in Venice, with general theme: “Out there. Architecture beyond building” held September 13 to November 23, 2008 (Preview Programme) The Greek participation has chosen to focus on the sound of the city, so as to bring forth the non-visual qualities of space. The aim is to transform the Greek Pavilion into an interactive experience that results in a sonic mapping of Athens – the ultimate metropolis of Greece. Through this interactive installation, the curators address the multi-dimensional nature of our relationship with the city and its people in our everyday experience, which involves the sum of our senses. Curators: Anastasia Karandinou, Christina Achtypi, Stylianos Giamarelos