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“European Day of Languages” (24-29/9/2011) – Greek events organized by the Press Office

The Press Office of the Greek Embassy in Warsaw once again participated in “European Day of Languages 2011” events, that took place in Warsaw from 24 till 29 September and aimed to inform Poles about the cultural and linguistic heritage of European countries.

Organizers were over eighteen countries, members of EUNIC Cluster Warsaw (European Union National Institutes of Culture), among them the Press Office of the Greek Embassy, cultural institutes and embassies of European countries, as well as  other institutions such as the European Commission Representation in Poland, the European Parliament Communication Office in Poland, the Polish Foundation for the Development of the Educational System, the University of Warsaw etc.
The program (www.edj.waw.pl) consisted of demo language lessons, seminars, European film festival, theatre workshops, city game, language picnic etc.
The Greek program of the events included:
Demo lesson of Greek language, that took place in the Institute of Foreign Languages of the University of Warsaw on the 27th of September, as part of the demo-lessons of  languages and cultures of the participating countries.
Greek info stand, which was set in the University Campus of the Old Library of the University of Warsaw and provided touristic information on the 27th September from 9 am until 3 pm.
The film “The Trojan Women” directed by Michael Cacoyannis (1971) was shown at the Russian Cultural Institute on the 29th September, during the film festival organized in the Russian Cultural Institute (26-29 September) and the cinema Alchemia (25th September):
A wide range of other events were organized during the week (24-29 September): a two-day conference “Language Competences for Professional and Personal Success inEurope”, entertainment activities, theatre workshops, city games, competitions on a special website. This year`s project attracted many students and other visitors and it can be considered as a perfect opportunity to experience the Greek language and culture.

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

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.

Greece`s presentation by the Greek Embassy and the Press Office at the European Information Centre in Warsaw (19/3/2010)

A presentation of Greece by the Greek Embassy and the Press Office in Warsaw took place at the European Information Centre of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 19th March 2010 (www.cie.gov.pl).
Various aspects of Greece were presented by the Deputy Head of Mission, Paraskevi Charitidou, and the Press Attache, Maria Mondelou.
The audience, 70  students of higher secondary schools of Warsaw, was informed about Greece`s geostrategic position, its political system, the participation in international organizations, such as the EU and the NATO, the Greek Presidencies in the EU.
A brief presentation of the Greek history, mainly during the modern and contemporary period, was followed by characteristic examples of Greek culture, in the fields of literature, poetry, music, theatre and cinema.
Views of the New Acropolis Museum were presented, as well as Greece`s request for the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles.
During the discussion, the students were informed about Greece`s foreign policy, the situation of the Greek economy, tourism, the educational system and the scholarships offered for foreign students. They were, also, particularly interested about the image of Poles in Greece and their life.
 The European Information Centre, that invited the Greek Embassy to make the presentation of Greece, organizes annually discussions with representatives of the EU member states.

Centrum Informacji Europejskiej  

Spotkanie z przedstawicielkami Ambasady Grecji
 19 marca 2010 r. w Centrum Informacji Europejskiej MSZ odbyło się spotkanie uczniów XL Liceum Ogólnokształcącego im. S. Żeromskiego oraz LXXV Liceum Ogólnokształcącego im. Jana III Sobieskiego w Warszawie z przedstawicielkami Ambasady Grecji. Ambasadę reprezentowały Pani Paraskevi Charitidou, zastępca szefa misji oraz Pani Maria Mondelou, Pierwszy Sekretarz w Biurze Prasowym Ambasady Grecji w Warszawie.
Prelegentki omówiły historię i system polityczny Grecji oraz aktualne działania Grecji w Unii Europejskiej. Opowiedziały również o warunkach studiowania w tym kraju i stypendiach dostępnych dla polskich studentów. Podczas prezentacji został wyświetlony krótki film o Atenach.
Po wykładzie miała miejsce dyskusja, w czasie której przedstawicielki Ambasady odpowiedziały na liczne pytania publiczności dotyczące stereotypów o Polakach, greckiej kultury, popularnych Greków, kryzysu gospodarczego, relacji z Turcją, aktualnego sporu między Grecją i Byłą Jugosłowiańską Republiką Macedonii przed Międzynarodowym Trybunałem Sprawiedliwości oraz doświadczeń czterech prezydencji Grecji w Radzie Unii Europejskiej.
W spotkaniu uczestniczyło ponad 70 osób.
(Polish text by www.cie.gov.pl)

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)

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.

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.

Greece: Solar Energy Systems Capacity Doubles

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The installed capacity of solar energy systems in Greece more than doubled within seven months by July 2009, according to the Renewable Energy Sources Centre,  largely because of legislative initiatives of recent years aimed at boosting the market’s development. The cost of solar panels has fallen over 35% within a year.  By harnessing solar and wind energy, Greece could meet the national target of getting 20% of its energy via renewable energy sources.   Kathimerini daily: Solar MW capacity doubled; Ministry of Development: Energy and Natural Resources; Secretariat General of Information: About Brand Greece – Energy Policy of Greece & World Media on Greece – Science and the Environment:Renewable Energy Sources in Greece Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies: The Greek PV Market: New PV law passed in January 2009

Greece: Invest in the “Fast Track”

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   “Invest in Greece Agency” is now the official agency to manage the licensing process for investments.

A new licensing system is underway – Fast Track – according to which investments in industry, energy, tourism, and advanced technologies and innovation that exceed €200 million, or exceed €75 million and create 200 new jobs or investments of at least €1 million per year in advanced and innovative technologies may take advantage of Fast Track licensing.  This is overseen by an inter-ministerial committee, which will be speeding up the process before the final license is issued.   The agency will process applications for Fast Track and conduct the evaluation. Invest in Greece will act on behalf of the investor, carrying out all the necessary procedures for licensing while working closely with all pertinent government bodies.   Invest in Greece agency: www.investingreece.gov.gr & view the corporate video

South Stream Pipeline Underway

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The agreement for the construction of the South Stream natural gas pipeline will be signed today (May 15) between Gazprom and all other participants in the project, in the Russian resort city of Sochi on the shores of the Black Sea, Greek Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis announced.    Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator (DESFA), a subsidiary of the Greek Public Gas Corporation (DEPA), will be signing on behalf of Greece. The minister, who will also attend the signing ceremony, noted the particular importance placed on the South Stream agreement and Greece’s broader cooperation with Russia.   Greek News Agenda: Greece-Russia forge ties; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Energy Affairs

Metro Extension in Thessaloniki

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias yesterday unveiled the first half kilometre of Thessaloniki’s metro system, and announced the extension of the route to the suburbs and the airport by 2012. The minister referred to the works as “the most significant public transport project currently under way in Greece.” The total estimated cost of the metro project is €1.5 billion.

FRONTEX Guards the EU Borders

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Anastasis Papaligouras recently signed a declaration for the supply of equipment with the European agency  Frontex – an EU body created to coordinate the operational cooperation between member-states in the field of border security – to curb illegal immigration into Europe. The effective handling of illegal migration is a particular concern to the EU and, of course, to Greece, whose national borders are also Schengen area borders in their entirety and EU external limits for the most part. The need for action becomes more urging since, lately, increased illegal migrant flows have been observed at the country’s eastern – land and maritime – borders. Greece participates actively in shaping a common European Surveillance System (EUROSUR) for all external land and maritime borders, in building the European Patrol Network, as well as in promoting the creation of a European Coast Guard, which was a Greek initiative. Frontex executive director Ikka Laitinen said that Greece was doing what it should but was faced with an exceptionally difficult task that had to be carried out in a difficult area and a difficult environment. Athens News Agency: Greece signs deal with Frontex; Hellenic Migration Policy Institute: www.imepo.gr & Statistical Data on Immigrants in Greece; Migrants in Greece: www.migrantsingreece.org; European Commission: Towards a Common Immigration Policy & A maritime Policy for the EU 

Greece: The Balkan Grid Connection

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Greece’s electric grid links with those for neighbouring countries are proving be a critical element in preventing power cuts and in the development of an integrated power market in Southeast Europe. In fact, the security of the country’s power supplies and the development of its market in the future will greatly depend on boosting the system’s capacity to be replenished by other grids. The grid management agency, Hellenic Transmission System Operator (DESMIE) is promoting a number of projects to this end, including a link with Turkey, a second connection with Bulgaria, upgrading the link with Italy and new links with other neighbouring grids.  The development of Balkan links north of Greece’s border – the section including Albania, FYROM, southern Serbia and Bulgaria – will be decisive for Greece’s power imports.  Kathimerini daily (Athens Plus, p.10): Greece hopes for stronger Balkan grid connections