Embassy of Greece
GREETINGS BY H.E. AMBASSADOR OF GREECE TO THE UNITED STATES,
MR. VASSILIS KASKARELIS
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 13TH ANNUAL CAPITAL LINK INVESTMENT FORUM
“GREECE – A NEW BEGINNING”
New York, New York
December 7, 2011
I send you my warm regards from Greece, where the visit of Vice President Joe Biden just concluded. This was an important and productive visit, where the Vice President of the United States declared his country’s support for Greece, stating that "It is overwhelmingly in the interest of the United States that Greece work its way through this financial crisis and remain a strong and vital part of the European Union."
At this critical juncture for the world economy, which has impacted not only Greece, but large economies like the United States, it is important that our leaders reinforce their friendship and camaraderie, and support each other, as we know that our fates are intertwined.
The 13th annual Capital Link Investment Forum very aptly titled “Greece – A New Beginning” comes at a decisive turning point for Greece, and I look forward to its conclusions and recommendations.
There is no denying that the road ahead is paved with hardship for the Greek people and with difficult decisions for its leaders. It is a time that demands that all of us rise to the ocassion; it demands commitment, dedication, and hard work.
These are not by any means new to the Greek people. To say that they have known hard times is rather an understatement, since their history is strewn with war, poverty and strife. Yet, they have always survived and emerge the better for it.
As Greece’s Ambassador, this is a difficult time, as I am called upon to defend, explain and nullify the impact of recent events. As a citizen of Greece, it pains me to see my country in this state, and as a human being, I am concerned about the future of my compatriots.
But I am hopeful; I am hopeful precisely because I have seen Greece rise out of the ashes more than once; I have seen the Greek people overcome against all odds; and I am certain they will do so again.
Developments over the last month in Greece have reinforced my cautious optimism. Under internationally acclaimed economist, Prime Minister Lukas Papademos, a man of integrity and much needed economic expertise, along with the confidence vote of the Greek Parliament, Greece’s political leaders have come together to form an interim government, whose main task is to “implement the decisions of the Euro Summit of October 26, 2011 and the associated economic poliecs”.
As Prime Miniser Lukas Papademos has clearly stated, the government is strongly committed to fulfilling this task. In particular, it will fully implement the measures described in the current economic program; conclude a sustainable and credible new EU-IMF multiannual program; and, finalize a sovereign bond exchange with the voluntary participationof the private sector (PSI), which will contribute to the financing and sustainability of Greek debt.
It is also determined to continue the process of fiscal consolidation and structural reform in order to secure sound public finances and improve the country’s international competitiveness. Substantial progress to this end has been made, but a lot more needs to be done in order to reverse the adverse debt dynamics and establish conditions that foster financial stability, sustainable growth and job creation. In particular, confidence must be restored and the forces of innovation, investment and growth have to be strengthened.
Concrete steps must accompany these developments in the immediate future of a few weeks. These include the immediate activation of the privatization process, a further reduction of the public sector and the deregulation of restricted professions among others, measures that will lead to the increase of productivity, development and investments.
For the purposes of this forum, it is important to note that the European Union is prepared to grant to Greece the sum of 30 billion Euros exclusively for infrastructure projects, changing the rule that requires a Euro-to-Euro government matching normally required.
Investments from other countries, like the United States, could enhance this measure and bring about outstanding results. Conferences such as this can serve as catalysts towards that direction.
Needless to say, the task ahead is daunting; but the process of leading the country out of its deadlock has been set in motion and a lot of critical changes have been made. I am confident that we are on the right path.
Greece has tremendous potential in many areas, not least of which is tourism. This past summer, we had an unprecedented number of tourists visiting Greece, surpassing 16 million. We anticipate that next year the number will be even higher.
Source: Press Office of the Embassy of Greece