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The 2006 HO Annual Lecture

Greece & EU: Partners in European Reform


Date  Monday, 20 November 2006
Time 18:30 - 20:00
Venue  Peacock Theatre, LSE
Speaker Dr Kostas Karamanlis, then Prime Minister of Greece
Chair Professor Kevin Featherstone 


Dr Costas Karamanlis, the Prime Minister of Greece, gave the 2006 Annual Lecture of the Hellenic Observatory on 20th November at the LSE. The lecture was entitled, "Greece and the European Union: Partners in European Reform" and was attended by over 800 guests in the Peacock Theatre. It was something of a gala occasion, with Professor George Alogoskoufis (Minister of Economy and Finance) and Mrs. Dora Bakoyiannis (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Mr. Theodoros Roussopoulos (Chief Government Spokesman, Athens); H.E. Mr. Simon Gass (UK Ambassador in Athens) and a range of VIP guests attending. The lecture received much media coverage.

Dr Karamanlis reflected on the prevailing political uncertainty in Europe, following the rejection of the EU's Constitutional Treaty in France and in The Netherlands and the bleak prospects for its adoption in the UK and other countries. He gave strong support to a deepening of the integration process, but one that was linked more closely to the citizens of Europe. Thus,

"Our vision for Europe should be directed at two levels, distinct at first sight but actually interactive. On the one hand, a united, political Europe with a strong voice in international affairs. On the other, a Europe that will use its potential to the benefit of its citizens, that will be relevant to their needs and hopes and that will stimulate them to be active and involved. We need to work together with the citizens of Europe for a "Europe of the Citizens". In other words, the challenge that we are facing today is not only to build a strong Union of States, but also a strong Union of Citizens. For example, our common aim of making Europe the world's most dynamic and competitive economy must go hand in hand with the creation of new jobs, social cohesion, improved living standards and environmental protection guarantees."

Moreover, he gave strong endorsement to the EU's Lisbon Agenda for a more open and competitive European economy. This was an agenda that paralleled his own programme for Greece.  And the Greek economy had shown substantial improvement:

"Today, the Greek economy is more open and more competitive than ever. It has one of the highest GDP growth rates in the Eurozone. Total exports increased by 13% in 2005 and 22% in the first half of 2006. In the same period, total investment increased by 10%. Also, in the first 8 months of 2006, Foreign Direct Investment increased almost tenfold compared to the same period last year, reaching 3.6 billion Euros. Large investment projects, especially in tourism and energy, delayed for years due to slow and unclear bureaucratic procedures, have now been advanced decisively. Indicative of the improvement is the fact that in 2005 a net increase of 28.400 firms was recorded. Last but not least, according to the 2006 IMD Report the competitiveness of the Greek economy showed a remarkable improvement by 8 places. It was the third largest improvement noted in the IMD scoreboard after China and India. Unemployment is gradually declining. In the second quarter of 2006, it was reduced to 8.8%, after many years of double digit rates."

Thus, the reform momentum within Europe and within Greece ran in parallel.  And Greece was undergoing a transformation:

"Greece is in a process of change. Results thus far show that we are on the right track. We are implementing a series of reforms across the board, which are the result of extensive social dialogue. Preparing our country for the challenges of tomorrow is our main conduit for change. Our vision is to establish Greece as a business and energy hub, a financial and transport center, a leading partner in South Eastern Europe, a cultural and tourist destination. Greece has created a new business environment friendly to entrepreneurship and private initiative. It has created new opportunities for domestic and foreign investors. It has created a new working environment for young, educated people. It is a friendly, modern and secure country. A country that knows how to listen and interpret the signs of times and how to adapt to them by change and reform following a clear vision and a targeted plan."

Dr Karamanlis answered a range of questions from the audience following his lecture and attended an informal reception afterwards. Sir Howard Davies, Director of the LSE, gave a speech of thanks.  



From left to right: 
Professor Kevin Featherstone; Ms Dora Bakoyannis' Mrs Natassa Karamanlis;
Dr Kostas Karamanlis & Mr Theodoros Rousopoulos


From lef to right: 
LSE Director - Sir Howard Davies: Dr Kostas Karamanlis
& Professor Kevin Featherstone


Professor Featherstone welcoming the Prime Minister of Greece





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