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.  

Tags: ArticlesPress Releases

Monday, 5 March 2012

By Maria Petrakis and Marcus Bensasson

Greece expects bondholders to accept a one-time offer to write off about 100 billion euros ($140 billion) of Greek debt and is ready to force them to participate if necessary, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said.

“This is the best offer,” Venizelos said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Nicole Itano in Athens today. “This is the best offer because this is the only one, the only existing offer.”

The European Union is facing its first test in its attempt to turn the page on the two-year debt crisis as Greece’s private creditors decide whether to sign off on the biggest sovereign- debt restructuring in history. The success of the 106 billion- euro swap, confirmed on the eve of last week’s European Union summit, depends on how many investors agree to the writedown by the March 8 deadline.

Tags: Interviews

Monday, 5 March 2012

by Dina Kyriakidou

ATHENS, March 5 (Reuters) - Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos warned Athens' private creditors on Monday not to hold out but take the bond swap on which a second bailout of the debt-ridden country depends because it was the best deal they would get.

Venizelos told Reuters in an interview three days before the exchange offer expires, that the terms hammered out last month after months of tortuous negotiations were favourable and Greece would not hesitate to activate laws forcing losses on bond holders who did not willingly sign up.

"Whoever thinks that they will hold out and be paid in full, is mistaken," he said. "We are ready to activate CACs (collective action clause to enforce losses) if needed," he said.

Tags: Interviews

Monday, March 5, 2012

Interview with Bloomberg’s Nicole Itano


Bloomberg: Thank you very much for joining us Mr. Venizelos

Venizelos: It is my pleasure, thank you very much for coming to Athens.

Bloomberg: I’d just like to start with… you have launched an unprecedented debt swap, the largest in history. Why should investors –particularly in the United States– participate?

Venizelos: Because it is the best offer. And this is the best offer because it is the only one, the only existing offer. This offer is the result of a very long and difficult negotiation with our institutional partners, with the so-called official sector and also the result of a very long and difficult consultation in detail with the representatives of the private sector, with the IIF, Mr. Charles Dallara, and also Mr. Jean Lemière, the co-chairman of the steering committee of the creditors committee.

After this very long experience of negotiations and consultations, we finally have this offer, this financial engineering. My impression is that everybody understands very well how attractive and how important is this offer because we have four very important and unique elements and incentives:

Tags: Interviews