Sunday, February 10, 2013

The peril of historical regression of Europe and the responsibility of European Socialists and Democrats

by Evangelos Venizelos

Europe is experiencing the threat of a great historical regression. The European acquis in the second half of the twentieth century is under intense questioning and the irony is that this has resulted from the combination of the most ambitious step in the process of European integration, the euro, as well as the financial and fiscal crises that feed into one another and are addressed symptomatically in a piecemeal way, but not structurally.

What is now being questioned is not just the European welfare state in its different versions, but also, as we see happening already in many countries, the level of employment and income, the sense of security and quality of life, the model of growth, the competitiveness data and the redistribution mechanisms. We see arising now a problem of social cohesion and solidarity, a problem of intolerance, lack of pluralism, a problem of European historical memory and consciousness. Therefore, we see now a problem for democracy and the rule of law, through the rise of different versions of an extreme right that is overtly violent and pro-Nazi. This is mainly occurring in countries that are at the heart of the crisis and are applying pro-cyclical fiscal adjustment programs that exacerbate recession and unemployment. However, the entire European economic and social environment is recessionary, pessimistic and insecure.

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An article by Evangelos Venizelos on Professor Peter Bofinger’s book
Back to D-Mark: Germany needs the euro

The publishing event of 2012 in crisis-stricken Greece was probably the publication of Professor Peter Bofinger’s book “Back to D-Mark: Germany needs the euro” ( in Greek : Polis Editions, translation  by Elise Papadakis).

Professor Bofinger, a member of the German Council of Economic Experts since 2004, becomes perhaps the best advocate of the Greek case to the German and European public. On the one hand, he is completely reversing all negative stereotypes that had been cultured for months against Greece, and on the other he presents with clarity the difficult reality of European correlations and the deeply rooted economic nationalisms that still exist in the heart of Europe.

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Vendredi 4mai 2012 En Grèce,

En Grèce,  "il faut bâtir une alliance proeuropéenne"

par Alain Salles

Athènes, Correspondance

Le bureau d'Evangelos Venizélos est en chantier, comme son parti. Il est transformé en studio de télévision, envahi de caméras, pour cause de campagne électorale. L'ancien ministre des finances a pris les rênes du Parti socialiste grec, le Pasok, six semaines avant les élections législatives du 6 mai, cruciales pour le pays, où les sondages prédisent au parti créé par Andréas Papandréou l'un de ses plus mauvais résultats: de 14 % à 19 % des voix, alors qu'il l'avait emporté en 2009 avec 44 %.

Les plans d'austérité répétés ont fait fuir l'électorat. L'ancien ministre s'est fait une raison: "Nous n'avons pas décidé d'appliquer des mesures de rigueur très difficiles par choix idéologique ou politique. C'était une nécessité dans une situation économique extraordinaire. Nous avons dû prendre des décisions qui allaient à l'encontre de nos traditions politiques."

Pourtant, M. Venizélos n'est pas pessimiste. Pour au moins deux raisons. Comme à peu près tous les partis grecs, il place beaucoup d'espoirs dans l'élection de François Hollande en France: "Un changement à la tête de l'Etat français sera le début d'un changement plus profond des rapports de force européens. Aujourd'hui, nous avons une Europe unidimensionnelle, très conservatrice, avec une approche monétariste et néolibérale. Le nouveau président français peut être la clé pour envisager l'avenir économique et monétaire européen sur de nouvelles bases, en faveur de la croissance."

Tags: Interviews

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Greece elections: In an exclusive interview, socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos issues election rallying call 
Polls show more than 75% of Greeks remain supporters of the euro despite enduring the steep pay and pension cuts

by Helena Smith

Evangelos Venizelos thinks twice before saying more or less anything. The man who helped pull off the biggest debt restructuring in world history in the continuing attempt to keep a Greek bankruptcy at bay speaks with all the caution of the constitutional law professor he was before he went into politics.

But only days before Greeks go to the polls, the bullish former finance minister is in no doubt that Sunday's election is the "most critical" the ailing country has faced since it returned to democracy in 1974.

"The battle will be decided in the last few days," he said in his first major interview with a foreign newspaper since assuming the helm of the socialist Pasok party in March. "The Greek people will have to give a clear answer as to whether it wants [to follow] a pro-European course, which is safe and responsible, or something else."

If it elects "something else", the country that sparked Europe's escalating debt crisis will not only be turning its back on the "progressive reforms" to modernise its moribund economy, it will be choosing to throw the eurozone into deeper turmoil.

Tags: Interviews

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Evangelos Venizelos's President of PASOK interview by  Dina Kyriakidou for  Reuters

Greek Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos warned voters they were opening the gates of parliament to the "goose-stepping" far-right and appealed for understanding over his party's support for austerity in return for an international bailout.

Venizelos took leadership of the Socialist PASOK party, for decades Greece's largest, earlier this year to try to win back support in next Sunday's election, when voters are set to punish those parties that backed painful austerity measures.

In an interview, the former finance minister warned against the rise of the ultra-nationalist party Golden Dawn, which could win around 5 percent of the vote, comfortably above the 3 percent threshold for entering parliament.

"Golden Dawn is an extreme phenomenon, I believe they are an example of fascism and we radically oppose them. It's an offence to our history and to parliament," he told Reuters, suggesting Greece could be experiencing its version of Germany's "Weimar" years which led to the rise of the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler.

Tags: Interviews

Saturday 07 April 2012

In a SPIEGEL interview, Evangelos Venizelos, the 55-year-old leader of Greece's PASOK party, the largest in parliament, defends his country against critics' views that it is incapable of reform and explains why he thinks the bailout is a good investment for German taxpayers.

by Sven Böll and Julia Amalia Heyer

SPIEGEL: Mr. Venizelos, last year, at the time you left the Greek Defense Ministry to go to the Finance Ministry, you said: "Now I am entering the real war." Is this war now over?

Venizelos: No, the second rescue package for Greece was adopted and the debt was successfully restructured. This was not just the result of my personal efforts, but an achievement of all my colleagues in the euro zone and the representatives of the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The situation is now more secure, but the game is far from over. A long and difficult path lies ahead of us.

SPIEGEL: You have been active in politics for decades and you were just elected as the leader of the socialist PASOK party. Now you want to become the prime minister who represents the restart of Greece. Is this correct?

Venizelos: I've only been in the Greek parliament for 18 years. The candidate for the conservative New Democracy party, my rival Antonis Samaras, has been a member of parliament since the late 1970s.

Tags: Interviews

Thurday 15 March 2012

CNBC:  Now that we’ve got the PSI out of the way, which is basically a big mountain you had to climb, how confident are you that the whole process will be concluded now with the few (bondholders) that are not on board yet?

Venizelos: First of all, until now, we have a very high participation. Until now we have a participation of the level of 95.7%. We are very close to the so-called “universal participation” and according to the fundamental and initial decision of the Euro Summit, our target was this universal participation. Now, after the extension of our offer until the 23rd of March, I am sure that we are in a position to absolutely achieve this target of universal participation, because the market is always very clever, very practical, very realistic and the market knows very well that this offer is unique; it is a very good and profitable offer and every bondholder can make the right option to take this offer with a sweetener equivalent, with a co-financing scheme, with a GDP warrant and also with new bonds under English law. This is a unique and absolutely constructive proposal not only from the part of Greece but also from the part of the so-called “official sector”.

CNBC: You are a lot more optimistic about the wisdom of the market than I am but, that set aside, were you disappointed at all that a credit event was called?

Tags: Interviews

Monday 12 March 2012


By: Reported by Silvia Wadhwa, Written by Catherine Boyle



Greece has been tossed on the turbulent sea of global markets for almost two years now – but the bond swap deal secured on Friday should reassure markets about the country’s future, Greek Finance Minister and possible future prime minister Evangelos Venizelos told CNBC.

“Now we have a sustainable debt for a sustainable country,” he said. “And now we can persuade the market because we have a new, very important and very concrete argument: the sustainability of the public debt after the PSI (the private sector investor deal).”

“We have a very clear political declaration and position from the part of our institutional partners. We have a very clear statement from the part of the Eurogroup, but also of the Euro Summit. We have the support of the so-called “Official Sector” until the return of Greece in the market,” he added.

Greece’s struggle under the weight of a 160-percent plus debt-to-GDP ratio and 20 percent unemployment has been one of the biggest factors affecting global markets for close to a year. Investors feared that if the Mediterranean country defaulted on its debt repayments, the end result could be the demise of the single currency itself.

Tags: Interviews

Monday 12 March 2012

 

By: Reported by Silvia Wadhwa, Written by Catherine Boyle and Ansuya Harjani 

 

After its second bailout was secured on Friday, Greece has been given a “new starting point” to try and restore its struggling economy to health, Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told CNBC.

Greece suffered a technical default after it had to force bondholders to take part in a controversial debt-swap deal throughcollective action clauses (CAC) on Friday. Only 83.5 percent of its creditors signed up to the deal – which will wipe 100 billion euros off Greece’s debt pile by reducing the value of their bonds -- by the deadline on Thursday.

Venizelos argued that the credit event – or technical default – declared by the International Association of Swaps and Derivatives (ISDA) was not important for Greece. He also countered claims that Greece will end up needing a third bailout as it tries to cope with unpopular austerity measures.

“The credit event and triggering of the CDS (credit default swap) is something internal. This is a kind of dealing room between banks and financial entities. It’s not something important for us as a real economy,” he said.

Venizelos is confident that the country can secure “universal participation” in the debt swap scheme – the largest sovereign debt restructuring in history – following the extension of its offer until March 23.

Tags: Interviews

9 March 2012

Athens, Greece:  Evangelos Venizelos, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Hellenic Republic, today announced that holders of approximately €172 billion principal amount of bonds issued or guaranteed by the Republic have tendered their bonds for exchange or consented to proposed amendments in response to the invitations and consent solicitations announced by the Republic on 24 February 2012.

Of the approximately €177 billion of bonds issued by the Republic and governed by Greek law and subject to the invitations, the Republic has received tenders for exchange and consents from holders of approximately €152 billion face amount of bonds, representing 85.8% of the outstanding face amount of these bonds.  Holders of 5.3% of the outstanding face amount of these bonds participated in the consent solicitation and opposed the proposed amendments.  The Republic has advised its official sector creditors that upon confirmation and certification by the Bank of Greece as process manager under the Greek Bondholder Act (Law 4050/2012), it intends to accept the consents received and amend the terms of all of its Greek law governed bonds, including those not tendered for exchange pursuant to the invitations, in accordance with the terms of the Greek Bondholder Act. Accordingly, the Republic will not extend the invitation period for its bonds governed by Greek law.  

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