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Greek FINMIN in Brussels

papathanasiouECOFIN1(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The explosion of the unemployment rate in the European Union is the biggest social problem facing EU member-states, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said on Tuesday, adding that employment in Greece remained at better levels compared with other EU states. Speaking an Economy and Financial Affairs Council meeting, the Greek minister said the government was determined to combating unemployment with specific measures, such as programs for the construction sector.  Papathanasiou said the Council meeting also discussed changes in the taxation of tobacco products. “Our interest is to support Greek production, the Greek tobacco industry and job positions,” he said, adding that the Council leaned towards a compromise proposal in favour of Greek interests, although it failed to reach a decision. An increasing number of EU member states entering into excessive deficit procedures facilitates Greece task in requesting a one year extension to 2011, if necessary, to bring the deficit down to 3%. Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Latvia and Rumania join the list of countries with excessive deficits (France, Greece, Spain, Ireland, UK) as of today, while another 9 countries including Italy and Germany are to join the list in November.  Greek News Agenda: Tax Package to Curb Budget Deficit

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Greece: Tax Pacage to Curb Budget Deficit

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou announced on June 25 a €1,9 billion package of new tax measures, in an effort to boost state revenues and reduce public deficit. The package includes higher taxes on fuel, mobile phones, lottery earnings, cars with more than 2-litre engines and recreational boats over 10 metres in length. Another €1 billion in revenues is expected from legalizing unauthorised home construction. Papathanasiou stressed that the government remains committed to the goals of reducing the fiscal deficit to 3.7 pct of GDP this year, creating initial conditions for limiting public debt and preserving the credibility of the Greek economy. The Greek minister added that a battle to combat tax evasion and cutting public spending would continue.  Kathimerini daily: Gov’t seeks 2 bln euros in new taxes

Greek Finance Minister at 10th Venture Capital Forum

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Economic growth will come from within business activation and through collaboration between public and private sector, economy and finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said on Tuesday, addressing the 10th Venture Capital Forum organised in Athens by the Invest in Greece Agency in cooperation with the New Economy Fund (TANEO) and the PRAXIS network.  Papathanassiou also said that the government will continue to fulfil its duty with responsibility, adding that it was seeking consensus, unanimity and understanding at the national level.  In the framework of the country’s safe exit from the crisis, he said, businesses were called on to assume their significant role with new initiatives, a creative disposition, and investments in sectors on which growth in the new era will be founded. Ministry of Economy and Finance: Statement by Minister at 10th Venture Capital Forum (in Greek, 16.6.2009) 

Greek Finance Minister: Economic Prospects

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The next two years will be a period of intense reform, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said on Monday (25.5), addressing an Economist conference in Athens. He also stressed that the growth model that helped Greece enjoy strong rates so far, must be adjusted to modern demands and expressed the government’s determination to improve the country’s competitiveness by taking measures to support innovation, reduce bureaucracy, promote alternative energy sources, and attract big foreign investments. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published yesterday (25.5) its annual report on the Greek economy, according to which the economy is expected to shrink by up to 2% this year with recovery beginning late in 2010. The IMF also recommended sweeping changes to tax regulations, continuing wage moderation and social security reforms.  Commenting on the IMF report, Papathanassiou said that “the Government is studying and carefully evaluating all the reports by international organisations pertaining to our country, even when it happens to disagree with certain estimates and predictions. In any case, it is clear that the next two years will determine the outcome of many significant issues for Greece’s present and future.”  Ministry of Economy and Finance: Speech by minister Papathanassiou at the Economist conference (in Greek); Kathimerini daily: IMF sees better days in late 2010

EU Cooperation on Immigration

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  “The problem is not a Greek problem, it is a European problem, because if one illegally enters Greece one also illegally enters the EU and the Netherlands,” said the Netherlands’ Deputy Justice Minister, responsible for immigration issues, Nebahat Albayrak, on Wednesday (May 27) after visiting an illegal immigrants’ reception centre on the eastern Aegean island of Samos.  “Certainly many problems exist, but we also have many possibilities for cooperation, not only on a bilateral basis, but also within the framework of the European Union between member-states,” added the Dutch official who earlier this week had talks in Athens with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.

2009 Dedicated to the Poet Yiannis Ritsos

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Yiannis Ritsos -together with Kostis Palamas, Giorgos Seferis, and Odysseus Elytis have marked contemporary Greek poetry- and has been among the country’s most widely translated poets. A prolific writer – many of his poems, like Epitaphios and Romiosyni were set to music by renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis. 
Born on May 1st, 1909 in Monemvasia, Lakonia, to landowners, Yiannis Ritsos was often persecuted for his left-wing politics. That combined with the tribulations of his personal and family life (death of his mother and elder brother, his father’s commitment to a mental institution, his own struggle with tuberculosis since 1926) inspired his poetry and led him to receive many distinctions in Greece and abroad. He was awarded the Lenin Prize for Peace in 1977 and the 1956 State Poetry Award for his work “Moonlight Sonata” and was also nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1968. He died on November 11, 1990.

♦ Marking the Centenary of the Poet’s Birth

In order to bolster research and disseminate the work of Greek authors and bring them closer to the general public, the Ministry of Culture and the National Book Centre of Greece (EKEBI) launched, some years ago, the initiative of commemorating one literary figure every year. This year, to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Yiannis Ritsos the two institutions have planned a series of commemorative events such as the publication of a special volume dedicated to the life and work of the poet, the creation of a special website with extensive information on the poet, the preparation of a mobile exhibition which will travel around Greece and abroad, as well as the release of 12 commemorative telephone cards in collaboration with Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE). Also, since March 21, EKEBI has released a series of small-size posters on the Athens tram and metro.

Monemvasia to Honour Poet

A much-anticipated exhibition to take place at the medieval fortress of Monemvasia this summer will mark one of the artist’s lesser known talents. “Ritsos the Artist” will be inaugurated by the French ambassador in Greece, Christophe Farnaud, on July 4 at the restored Agios Nikolaos Church, once the elementary school where Ritsos studied. Apart from some personal items, the show will mainly consist of watercolours, ceramics, and reed roots painted by Ritsos. Running through to August 4, the Ritsos exhibit is one of many events put together by the Monemvasia municipality and the show’s artistic director, composer Pigi Likoudi, to mark the centenary of Ritsos’ birth. [Programme of events in Monemvasia (in Greek)

Monemvasia, a Jewel in the Myrtoan Sea

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    Located in the southeastern Peloponnese in the prefecture of Laconiaa, Monemvasia is a castle-city of unique beauty, standing on a rock in the Myrtoan Sea.  Homeland of Yiannis Ritsos, Monemvasia takes its name from a narrow piece of land (“the bridge”), which joins the rock of Monemvasia with the mainland, creating thus the one and the only entrance to it. Within its castle, there is a whole medieval city, living on the rhythm of today, but with a magical ambience of the past.   Just like it is about to break the bond with the earth and set sail in the blue sea, Monemvasia enchants every visitor with its unbeatable combination of natural beauty and cultural heritage.