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Brookings Institution Hosts PM Papandreou for Speech on Economic Challenges
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides
April 20, 2010—No. 03 (202) 785-8430

 

Executive Director’s Note: The American Hellenic Institute presents AHI’s Capital Report which is a timely synopsis of recent policy discussions in Washington to help keep you abreast of the latest developments. As a service to our membership and constituency, and to gain an understanding of the position of other entities on our issues, the American Hellenic Institute attends and participates at policy forums or roundtable discussions to ensure the policy positions of the Greek-American community are represented.

The content provided in AHI’s Capital Report is for informational purposes only, and does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of AHI.

Brookings Institution Hosts PM Papandreou for Speech on Economic Challenges

George PapandreouOn March 8, The Brookings Institution hosted Prime Minister George Papandreou for an address on how Greece, the United States and Europe can reinvigorate their cooperation to confront common challenges. In his remarks, Prime Minister Papandreou addressed Greece's current economic situation and the opportunity it presents for Greece to modernize and revitalize its governance and for Europe to become more fully integrated.

The prime minister’s speech addressed the general topics of interdependent financial interests among global powers, restoring Greece’s financial health, and coordinated money reforms among economies of the world.

Kemal Dervi, vice president and director of the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings, moderated a question and answer session. He is the former minister of Economic Affairs of Turkey.

AHI Offers PM Opportunity to Explain Why Greece Is a Good Investment Opportunity

During the Q&A, American Hellenic Institute Executive Director Nick Larigakis addressed the importance of encouraging increased direct investment in Greece. He asked PM Papandreou, “If this were a room of American corporate executives rather than diplomats and reporters, what would you tell them right now in terms of trying to entice them to say why Greece is still a good investment opportunity?” Larigakis also asked the prime minister to address any specific reforms or incentives that are taking place to entice foreign direct investment in Greece.

In response, PM Papandreou cited Greece’s tax system as a vehicle that will create incentives for investment. He also identified a law that makes the investment process more efficient, explaining that a renewable energy investment that used to take five years to roll-out may now take only eight months. “That just shows how we have cut down on bureaucracy,” he said.

In addition, the prime minister added three other points to encourage foreign investment in Greece: 1) transparency and corruption will be addressed 2) opening up “professions” so that there is increased competition, and 3) the creation of incentives to invest in specific areas of Greece, for example, the Aegean Islands, which has great wind potential.

To view PM Papandreou’s entire speech at Brookings, please click here.

 

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Greece’s Social Attitudes Must Change Too Says International Law Expert

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Southeast Europe Project hosted a policy forum titled, “Greece’s Financial Crisis: The Politics of Resolution and Reform,” with Dr. Achilles Skordas, professor of International Law, University of Bristol (UK), on March 24, 2010.

Greece faces many challenges with the state of its economy and they are not only fiscal, offered Dr. Skordas. There are also societal challenges, he said. He believes that social attitudes will have to change if reforms are going to be effective. Dr. Skordas added that the austerity package would only alleviate the crisis for a certain period of time, but society would revert back to its ways after the enforcement of the package ceased to exist.

Moreover, Dr. Skordas warned that the austerity package may create deflation and recession.  He added that institutionalized corruption is pervasive in Greece and needs to be curtailed.

Dr. Skordas presented a set of “necessary reforms” including:

  • The pension systems must contain more market-friendly features because it is on the verge of bankruptcy
  • Privatize enterprises
  • Restructure of the labor system
  • Universities can no longer be a refuge to extremists
  • Address foreign policy issues (FYROM, disputes with Turkey)

Finally, Dr. Skordas stated that the people of Greece should give Prime Minister George Papandreou enough time to address these challenges and for the proper reforms to take shape.

 

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AHI Attends Policy Forums Examining Role of Turkish Military, Macedonian “National Revival”

Representatives from the American Hellenic Institute also attended two other policy forums hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Southeast Europe Project in March.

“The Crisis over the Role of the Turkish Military” was held March 3, 2010. It featured several speakers including: Dr. Henri J. Barkey, visiting scholar, Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment and Bernard L. and Bertha F. Cohen Professor, Lehigh University; Dr. Steven A. Cook, Hasib J. Sabbah Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council of Foreign Relations; and Professor Mithat Melen, member of Parliament (MHP), Turkish Grand National Assembly.

According to Dr. Barkey there is a fundamental shift occurring in Turkey based on two internal factors and one external factor. The two internal factors are: 1) a change in Turkish society due to a shift in economic power, and 2) the Turkish military’s resistance to change. For the former, Dr. Barkey cites business growth in outer Anatolia as an example of how Turkey has grown to become the 17th largest economy in the world. Separately, the Turkish military’s resistance to change has led to a public backlash of the military, and Dr. Barkey cites the 2007 election as an example. He also offered that the military interferes in Turkey’s judiciary system. The lone external factor impacting a shift in Turkey is the European Union. Ultimately, Dr. Barkey contends that Turkey will move forward.

Dr. Cook offered that the Turkish military is weak, which is rooted in his belief that if one needs to use force that it is a sign of weakness. He added that the AKP party is trying to show the Turkish military “who is boss.” Dr. Cook contended that the United States should stress the rule of law in its focus on Turkey. The United States should support a democratic Turkey, he said.

Finally, Professor Melen is of the opinion that the people of Turkey are unhappy and there is a sense of anxiety. Both politicians and the military need to change their attitudes. Simply stated, Turkey must produce new leaders. Professor Melen called for reform, especially in the judiciary system. He observes the inability of Turkish government officials to properly communicate with each other about the issues affecting Turkey and oftentimes not even addressing the pressing issues, such as the economy.

“Greek Gifts: Archaeophilia, Ochlocracy and Monochromatism in Contemporary Macedonia” featured presentations by Associate Professor Keith Brown, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University; and Professor Irena Stefoska, Institute of National History, University Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Macedonia and Fulbright Visiting Scholar, Watson Institute, Brown University. The forum was held March 10, 2010.

According to the two presenters, FYROM is undergoing a “national revival” that includes a program of “antiquization” to lay claim to the legacy of Alexander the Great in ways that resemble a longer process of antiquization in Greece. This process contributes to the tensions between the two countries. In their paper, Professors Brown and Stefoska examine the debate over the antiquization within FYROM, focusing in particular on the robust critiques offered by a range of dissidents who risk being labeled as “traitors.” In addition, three integral topics are described as part of this debate: archaeophilia, ochlocracy and monochromatism. Professors Brown and Stefoska argue that collectively these three topics suggest FYROM’s leadership is using a nation-building template borrowed from Western Europe via Greece.

AHI’s Work on Capitol Hill Includes Annual Salute to Greek Independence

In March the American Hellenic Institute’s work on Capitol Hill focused extensively on the planning and organization of its annual “Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day” at which ten members of Congress attended and addressed the audience on March 24, 2010.

AHI also found time in March to meet with the offices of U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Zack Space (D-OH) to present AHI’s latest policy materials and updates to the legislators and their staffs.

“We continue to work hard to keep our champions on Capitol Hill apprised of the latest developments that impact our policy issues,” said Executive Director Nick Larigakis. “We have a strong and engaged Greek American congressional delegation and for it to be effective, it must be kept informed of those items of significant interest to the Greek American community.”

AHI disseminates policy information to members of Congress and congressional staffers that relates to United States relations between Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey as it pertains to the best interest of the United States.

The meetings were organized by AHI’s Director of Government Affairs & Media Relations, Constandinos Franciscos Economides.

 

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For additional information, please contact C. Franciscos Economides at (202) 785-8430 or at pr@ahiworld.org. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.