Tag Archives: Greece

US talks on T-TIP and Eurozone economy with Greek officials in Athens

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GreeceAthens : U.S. State Department (Principal Deputy Assistant) Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs is scheduled to visit Athens and discuss the economic state of affairs in the Greek territory. The visit, scheduled to take place on October 26-27, would focus on agenda which Kurt Tong (U.S. State Department Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs) plans to lay on the discussion table with Greek officials and private sector business leaders during his visit to Athens.

The priority of Tong’s trip would be set around discussions regarding Eurozone economic issues and  Transatlantic Trade and   Investment Partnership (T-TIP) agreement. In Athens, he would meet with senior officials in the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the banking sector officials and entrepreneurs. Additionally, Tong is scheduled to address members of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce.

Greece okays new austerity and makes way for reform package bill

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greeceAthens : Greece has moved a step forward in which Athens has promised to present a new comprehensive plan to overhaul the ailing pension system by the end of 2015.The new Left-led government passed the first crucial test since taking office after the September 20 snap general elections. 154 of total 155 members of parliament of Radical Left SYRIZA party, represented by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) party coalition, voted in favour of the bill, while 140 deputies voted against and six adstained by were absence. The bill included a new round of tax hikes for all taxpayers, a matter which already evoked strong reactions. The bill also outlined an introduction of tougher penalties for tax evaders. The bill further stated a framework of new pension system reform which would take care of gradual phasing out of early retirement and further pension cuts.

The bill sparked off a debate during which opposition parties and labour unions, who opposed several provisions of the omnibus bill, argued that the prolonged austerity and the kind of reforms would not lead to revival of the ailing economy, and chances are it would rather cause destruction of Greek society. Finally, number count resulted in bill getting approved by the ruling Greek legislators, who approved on Saturday an omnibus bill containing a set of prior actions, which the country pledged to its international creditors in order to unlock the next bailout loan instalment in the coming weeks.

The new bill helps to foresee that retirement age would be gradually raised to 67 years for all, over the next seven years, and those who take an early retirement would face a further 10 percent cut on their pensions. The ratification of new austerity and reform measures had been preconditioned for continuation of review of Greek program by lenders that would make available the first two-billion-euro (about $2.3 billion) aid tranche from Greece’s third bailout, planned out months ago.

Greece has agreed to a three-year aid package totaling 86 billion euros. Tsipras made a U-turn from his party’s previous anti-bailout rhetoric in recent months, pledging a quick implementation with certain necessary changes that would enable the path of securing the new 86 billion euro loans over the next three years to eliminate the risks of default. This is expected to bring Greece back on the path of development.

Sunday poll result does not indicate a “rupture” with Europe: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

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GreeceAthens: Voters in Greece, a country bathed by the  Mediterranean  in Europe that has gone into a into a tailspin of debt and and is facing a massive economic crisis, on Sunday overwhelmingly (61%) gave a referendum against the tough bailout terms of international creditors.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has taken the veiw that the Sunday poll result does not indicate a “rupture” with Europe.
Prime Minister Tsipras’ statement after voting in the July 5th referendum
Today is a day of celebration because democracy is a cause to celebrate, to be joyful. And when democracy conquers fear and blackmail, then it also leads to redemption, and a way forward.
Today, the Greek people send a very powerful message. A message of dignity, of determination. A message that they are taking control of their choices. Many may try to ignore the will of a government. But no one can ignore the will of a people who are seeking to live with dignity, to live life on their own terms.
Today, democracy trumps fear. Our people’s determination trumps fear. I am confident that tomorrow we will set a new course for all the peoples of Europe. One that will return us to Europe’s founding values ​​of democracy and solidarity, and will send a strong message that we are determined to not only to remain in Europe but to also live with dignity in Europe. To prosper, to work as equals among equals.
Let us, then, take a decisive stand in support of democracy–for a better future for all of us, in Greece and Europe.

Tsipras’ message before the Sunday Poll

The time for responsibility and democracy has arrived. The fear-mongering and threats of disaster must stop.
When a nation takes a stand on its future, it has nothing to fear.
Let us all go to the polls calmly, and let us make our choice based on the arguments–and not the slogans.
Yesterday an event of major political importance occurred. The International Monetary Fund released a report concerning the Greek economy.
The report is a great vindication for the Greek government; it confirms the obvious–that the Greek debt is unsustainable.
Per the IMF, the only way that the economy can recover and the debt be made sustainable is through a 30% haircut and a 20-year grace period.
The institutions never presented this report to the Greek government during the five months of the negotiation, during the five months that we have been negotiating.
It is also missing from the institutions’ final proposal that the Greek people will be approving or rejecting on Sunday.
The IMF’s report vindicates our choice to not accept a deal that ignores this integral issue, making the debt sustainable.
In short, the main driving force behind the memorandum has confirmed our assessment, the fact that the proposal we were given will not lead to a sustainable exit from the crisis.
We should all recognize this crucial fact.
On Sunday, what will be determined is not whether Greece remains in Europe.
What will be determined is whether, under duress and blackmail, we will accept the continuation of a policy that even its creators are now admitting has failed.
On Sunday, what will be determined is whether we will consent to the slow death of our economy and the impoverishment of our society.
If we will accept to further reduce pensions, so that an unsustainable debt will be repaid with the savings of the pensioners.
Or, if with determination, we will strengthen our negotiating resolve to achieve an agreement that will finally put an end to the destruction of the last five years.

“Tension between Europeans”

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greeceParis, Jan. 30: The Monde.fr– the online edition of Le Monde, has drawn attention towards Greece with the news item titled “Greece: first little tension between Europeans”

The news by Cecile Ducourtieux says:  Germany’s Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament Thursday, Dutchman Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the President of the Eurogroup (Ministers of Finance of the euro area) on Friday. Europeans flock to Athens to meet Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the party of the anti-austerity Syriza radical left, since he was appointed prime minister on Monday, January 26.

These openings, The Monde.fr says, are widely shared in Brussels, where we know there is need to find a solution with Greece, in order to avoid a “Grexit”, an exit of Greece from the euro zone, which nobody wants. But a line of “divide” begins to appear. There have been hasty meetings in recent hours, especially at the initiative of the Social Democrats.

The online edition of Le Monde further points out that in the conservative camp, there are fears of the formation of a front led by the democrats which could be a little too accommodating to Athens.

Schulz made ​​the trip, not to initiate any negotiations on the huge Greek debt (320 billion euros, 175% of GDP), but “to renew dialogue, after communication problems during the Greek parliamentary elections ” explains his entourage.

In early December 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, had, in effect supported Antonis Samaras, the former Prime Minister, before cautiously keeping silent when the campaign really started.

“I learned from our conversation that the Greeks did not intend to take unilateral decisions on their debt, but they want to negotiate constructively with their partners. The government of Mr. Tsipras wants to work in a spirit of partnership , “said Mr Schulz in Athens, Wednesday afternoon.