Greek Account Deficit 2011 9.9% of GDP
Greek Account Deficit 2008 14.7% of GDP
GDP estimate (3rd quarter):-7.2%
GDP estimate (2nd quarter):-6.3%
Population of Athens:
2012 estimates non-Greek immigrants at over 800,000 (legal) and 350,000+ (illegal) in Greece.
Rick Steves' Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese amazon.com
Nice interactive world map that shows the credit ratings for sovereign nations around the planet. That's right: Greece has a burning red "substantial risk" rating at present.
With national ratings and global banks all experiencing a phenomenon of credit rating 'adjustments', I don't know for how long this chart will be accurate.
Entire chart at chartbin.com
Bust: Greece, the Euro and the Sovereign Debt Crisis - By Matthew Lynn amazon.com
Greece's 'Odious' Debt: The Looting of the Hellenic Republic by the Euro, the Political Elite and the Investment Community - By Jason Manolopoulos amazon.com
Understanding the Crisis in Greece: From Boom to Bust - By Theodore Pelagidis amazon.com
The Imminent Crisis: Greek Debt and the Collapse of the European Monetary Union amazon.com
Eyewitness Greece - Athens and the Mainland - 352 Pages
"While Turkey was pressuring the French president not to support a bill criminalizing denial of the Armenian Genocide, it had to cope with Greece, yet another country that just adopted a law making it illegal to deny genocides, including the Armenian Genocide. Greece is the third European country, after Slovakia and Switzerland, to pass such a law. The Swiss law, however, is under review by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for violating a Turkish defendant’s freedom of speech.
The French Parliament (2011) and Senate (2012) adopted a similar law to punish genocide denial that was overturned by the French Constitutional Council. To replace the failed law, French Deputy Valerie Boyer submitted a new bill to the parliament last week. President Francois Hollande has also pledged to back the criminalization of Armenian Genocide denial.
Despite legal uncertainties regarding such laws in Europe, the Greek Parliament on Sept. 9 adopted by a vote of 54 to 42 an anti-hate crime law—“Combating Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Racism”—making it illegal to deny the Jewish Holocaust and genocides recognized by international courts or by the Greek Parliament..."
"Time may be running out for the Greek public broadcaster NERIT to persuade the European Broadcasting Union - the producers of the Eurovision Song Contest - of its eligibility for EBU membership.
The formal deadline for each country to confirm participation expired on September 15. NERIT’s officials state they sent their application in on time but the EBU says Greece’s application cannot be taken into consideration before its public broadcaster is officially an EBU member.
It is worth noting that NERIT has been Greece's new public broadcaster since the summer of 2013, when after an abrupt governmental decision the former broadcaster ERT was shut down sparking worldwide attention."
"Barcelona, Spain, has captured the 5 million euro ($6.5 million) grand prize in a competition that spurs cities to develop novel approaches to improve urban life.
The Mayors Challenge is run by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Four other cities won 1 million euros ($1.3 million) each: the metropolitan area of Kirklees, England; Stockholm; Warsaw, Poland; and Athens, Greece."
"Turkey supports Macedonia for NATO membership and will continue to do so. We also support Macedonia for EU membership. We hope that one day we will be in the European Union together," Davutoglu made the remarks at a joint press conference with visiting Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
...Greece is opposed to the use of the name Macedonia by its northern neighbour, saying that it implies territorial claims to Greece's northern province of the same name.
As a result, Greece is blocking Macedonia's bid to join NATO and the EU, saying that Macedonia can be a member only if a solution to the name dispute is reached.
In November 2008, Macedonia brought Greece to the International Court of Justice(ICJ) accusing Athens of violating a 1995 agreement by thwarting Macedonia's efforts to join NATO at a summit of the alliance in April 2008."
"Greece's biggest telecoms operator OTE, Vodafone and Wind Hellas submitted offers to buy mobile radio frequency rights within the 800 and 2,600 MHz band, telecoms regulator EETT said in a statement. The deadline for offers expired on Monday.
The auction is part of Greece's 22 billion euro ($28 billion) privatisation plan agreed with its international lenders, the EU and the IMF, under a 240 billion euro bailout."
"After nearly crashing out of the euro zone two years ago, Greece has managed to bring its finances back on track and post a budget surplus before interest payments last year.
Athens has relied on a 240 billion euro EU/IMF financing package since the second half of 2010 to stay afloat. Bailout funding from its euro zone partners ends in December while IMF aid will run out in the first quarter of 2016.
"Greece does not need new loans and could not sign a new bailout for money it does not need," Samaras told the paper in an interview.
"We are exiting the bailout for good, and our goal is to never again need to go into such a (bailout) programme, asking for loans to make it through the year."
"Lagarde only commented on taxation in Greece and raised the burning issue of tax evasion. When asked about past comments regarding tax evasion by the wealthy Greeks, she said: “I better not say too much because, you know, when I have talked about Greece and its taxes before, I got death threats and we had to increase security,” adding, “but is the shipping industry really paying its taxes? Are others? I don’t think so."
"T-bill holders of the above maturities [T-bills maturing between Sept.19 2014 to March 6, 2015] can also exchange the short-term paper for five-year bonds due in 2019 at exchange ratios of 95.805554 to 95.297785 percent. The offer starts at 0600 London time (0500 GMT) on Thursday and expires at 1700 (1600 GMT). Alpha Bank, Eurobank, National Bank and Piraeus Bank are the dealer managers. Settlement is expected on Sept. 16. "
"At more than double the euro zone average of 11.5 percent in July, Greece's unemployment rate remains near record highs despite signs of recovery in the economy, which is expected to emerge from recession and expand by 0.6 percent this year."
"Greece’s National Intelligence Service said Tuesday that it was at “a heightened state of vigilance” for suspected militants, keeping close tabs on radical Muslims, and had detected at least six foreign fighters with the terrorist group Islamic State transiting through the country in recent months.
The surveillance operation comes amid concern that the militant group, formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, will retaliate for increased U.S airstrikes in Iraq and possible strikes in Syria.
About 300 Albanian fighters have joined Islamic State and the militant group Al Nusra Front, which is also fighting in Syria, according to the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, a think tank based at London’s King College. Forty of them were arrested and tried last month in Kosovo, among the poorest states in the Balkans.
“More than half of them were released because they had no idea what they were getting into,” said Jeta Xharra, director of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. “Many new recruits do not know either. They are just replying to Internet ads that are pouring in from Turkey, promising money in exchange for a year of adventure, like a gap year after college.”
"Greek authorities are in constant contact with intelligence agencies in the US, France and the UK, as it is estimated that there are about 80-100 jihadists in the country, who either live or currently visiting Greece in order to go to Syria. Some are under police surveillance, while European countries inform Greece about Syrians and Iraqis living in the country who have family or friendly relations with jihadists who live mainly in Britain and France. Until today, three jihadist extremists of French nationality have been arrested.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the surveillance operation comes amidst concerns that ISIS will retaliate for increased US airstrikes in Iraq and possible strikes in Syria.
“...The threat level originating from Greece is very low because there are no verified indications of either dormant or active ISIS cells or splinter groups within the country,” a senior intelligence official said. “We are, however, at a heightened state of vigilance now, exchanging intelligence from the United States, Britain, France and others,” the LA Times report said.
...In recent months, Greek intelligence has detected six ISIS recruits traveling through the country, including a 23-year-old French national carrying a memory stick with instructions for making bombs.
“...Since the start of the year, Greece has deported more than 300 Syrians and Iraqis suspected of terrorism-related activities. What’s more, with Greece neighboring Albania, the biggest source of Islamic State recruits in the Balkans, investigators warn that the passage of militants through this country could increase,” the LA Times report said."
"While Western Europe has claimed much of our attention this summer for its overt displays of anti-Semitism (see: Paris; Berlin; London), Greece’s small but historic Jewish community is witnessing the legitimization of the Golden Dawn party, whose leaders routinely use Nazi imagery and deny the Holocaust. (One member of the group, a Greek doctor, was arrested in March for posting a ‘Jews Not Welcome’ sign outside his practice.)
While the neo-Nazi group’s political ascent in modern-day Greece is a frightening prospect, outlawing hate speech is itself a controversial legal practice. Still, according to JTA, the local Jewish community has been pressuring lawmakers to take legislation action on their behalf for a while now. The ban on Holocaust denial, it appears, is for them a step in the right direction."
"The Finance Ministry's force inspected 2,639 businesses across Greece in the six-month period, finding more than 390,000 tax code violations at 1,872 of them, or 54 percent. "
"The management of 14 regional airports throughout Greece is set to be sold to private investors in the next two months, according to the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) schedule."
"With vast levels of unemployment and a slump in the size of the economy of over a quarter since 2008, Greece looks in dire shape
...The minor problem is that there hasn’t been nearly enough structural reform of the welfare state in Greece. For long-run fiscal recovery, it’s very important to save money by reducing handouts that create dependency, while also shrinking the country’s bloated bureaucracy. By comparison, it’s less important (or perhaps even harmful) to save money by letting physical infrastructure deteriorate.
The major problem is that controlling government spending is just one piece of the puzzle. There are five major factors that determine economic performance, with experts assigning equal importance to fiscal policy, trade policy, regulatory policy, monetary policy, and rule of law."
"Fifteen years ago, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake shook the Parnitha region in Attica, Greece. It was one of the largest and deadliest earthquakes to hit Greece in the last 50 years.
...fifteen years later, Greek newspaper “Ta Nea” reports that some of these people are still living in those prefabricated camps. Most of them are unemployed or do not have enough money to rent a proper home. They are forced to live in 23-square-meter iso-boxes with no electricity or running water."
"Samaras, whose conservative party trails the anti-austerity, radical leftist Syriza party in opinion polls, said a heating oil consumption tax would be cut by 30 percent and a "solidarity tax" would also be reduced.
...Greek officials brought up the issue of tax relief at talks in Paris this week with the lenders to review the progress of the bailout, but there was no confirmation that they had agreed to the package. Samaras said details of the tax cuts would be presented in the draft budget when it is announced in October.
He also said he was working on a taxation "road map", in which the top rate of income tax would be cut in stages to 32 percent from 42 percent and the corporate tax rate reduced to 15 percent from 26 percent. A deeply unpopular property tax would also be reduced, he said, without providing any details."
"Archaeologists excavating a burial mound in northern Greece have found two marble sculptures of female figures and a large, colored marble panel in what appears to be the antechamber of the main room.
...The 60-centimeter (2-foot) female figurines are on a wall leading to the yet unexplored main room. The marble panel, 4.2 meters (14 feet) long by 1 meter (3.3 feet) wide, is carved with geometric shapes and painted dark red and yellow. It is located up a wall in the 6.5-meter (21.3-feet) high antechamber."
"There's a lot of commotion going on at an archaeological site in Greece these days. Thus, researchers are busy excavating an Alexander the Great-era tomb, and are unearthing stunning artworks every day.
The tomb in question is located in Amphipolis, a municipality in Greece's Serres regional unit. It is encircled by a massive 1,600-foot (500-meter) wall made of marble, and has not yet been explored in its entirety.
Information shared with the public says that the entrance to this ancient tomb is guarded by two lion sculptures. This opening leads to an antechamber, which in turn guides visitors to the actual tomb, Live Science informs.
It is in this antechamber that archaeologists found a stunning mosaic that, like the tomb, dates back to the 4th century BC. The mosaic covers the antechamber's floor, and researchers say that, given its age, it is in excellent condition.
A photo of this mosaic was released to the press by the Greek Ministry of Culture, and is available next to this article. As easily noticeable, the mosaic comprises bits and pieces of white marble fitted onto a red background."
"A surge in people fleeing violence in Africa and the Middle East has increased the pressure on the euro zone's most indebted country, a major gateway into the EU for migrants who attempt risky boat crossings through porous sea borders.
The latest influx was driven mainly by wars in Syria, the Gaza Strip, Libya and northern Iraq, Shipping and Maritime Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis told reporters.
"We are facing a great challenge," Varvitsiotis said, adding that there was a pool of more than two million migrants - half of whom are Syrian and other migrants now in neighboring Turkey - who could attempt to enter the EU via Greece."
"After six years of crippling recession, Greek officials are hopeful that the country's economy will grow in 2014—despite continuing sky-high unemployment and falling prices.
"I feel quite comfortable overall about the prospects of the Greek economy. We've succeeded after about six years to establish positive growth," Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek Minister of Administrative Reform, told CNBC on Thursday.
Greece was first hit hard by the global financial crisis in 2008 and then ran into trouble paying down its debt in 2010. The country was bailed out by the rest of Europe and the International Monetary Fund, but hopes to graduate from its loan program in 2016 without further assistance—just as Ireland and Portugal did this year."
"Representatives from Greece and the "troika" of the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund had thrashed out sensitive details over three days of talks in Paris that Greek officials had hailed as "positive".
...The representative of the European Commission, Declan Costello, said the three days of talks had led to "a greater understanding of the most significant problems."
"We are preparing the next discussions scheduled for later in the month," he said.
"Greece will issue a new seven-year bond by the end of the year, a government official said on Wednesday, as the aid-dependent nation seeks to capitalise on two successful forays into the bond market this year on the back of a recovering economy. It also plans to exchange three- and six-month Treasury bills with new 18- and 24-month T-bill issues by the end of the year to stretch out the repayment period, the official said.
Athens has a stock of about 15 billion euros of outstanding T-bills and refinances them on a monthly basis."
"Parliamentary review of a draft anti-racism law in Greece, which began in November 2013, has resumed following a nine-month interruption and is expected to be debated in parliament's recess section on September 2 and 5, 2014. Members of parliament should amend the draft to include measures to combat racist violence and protect free speech, Human Rights Watch said today.
The current version of the bill, if approved, would toughen criminal sanctions for incitement to hatred, discrimination, and violence. It would also criminalize denial of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity."
"Greece sold 1.1 billion euro (1.44 billion U.S dollars) worth of six-month treasury bills on Tuesday as part of its regular monthly treasury bills auction program, the Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA) said.
According to the announcement, the treasury bills were priced to yield 2 percent, marginally lower than a 2.02 percent achieved in the previous similar sale in August."
"Turkey, for example, faces the serious threat of seeing some its territory being lost to the emerging Kurdish state, the founding of which is being encouraged by certain international elements. Of course Turkey cannot avert such a development on its own, but recently elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be eager to ensure that his personal triumph is not allowed to become a national failure. This is especially the case given that his long tenure as prime minister became identified with visions of neo-Ottoman hegemony over the Islamic world.
Isolated from powerful alliances and thrust into the direction of Erdogan’s sultanic ambitions, Turkey may well end up venting its hegemonic urges on the Balkans and the Mediterranean region. Ankara’s growing intransigence in talks for a solution to the Cyprus issue is but one indication and Greece must be prepared for such an eventuality.
Of course this is just mere supposition, but Greece is crippled financially and cannot under any circumstances afford to suffer another crisis, be it diplomatic or otherwise.
All the country’s political forces need to be vigilant and to keep a close eye on developments on the other side of the Aegean as well as the wider Mediterranean region. "
The one word missing from the entire article is "Turkey"
"We had the opportunity, along with my American counterpart, to confirm once again the really excellent level of the Greek-American defense cooperation. Today, we essentially proceeded to the finalization of critical issues referring to the road map of the American defense cooperation with our country and give solutions to outstanding issues,” Avramopoulos stressed after the meeting.
Avramopoulos said that they discussed “the burning geopolitical issues of our region, the geostrategic role of Greece as a country of stability and security in the wider region, as well as the role Greece can undertake in the name of international law."
"According to the OECD data, Greece has the highest rate of overweight and obese children (aged 5-17) in the world, followed by Italy, U.S. and Mexico."
"Vodafone today announces that Vodafone Greece has agreed to acquire 72.7% of the share capital of Hellas Online SA ("HOL") from the Intracom Group ("Intracom") and World Equities Investments Holdings SA"
Video report online - follow the link.
"A fragile, uneven and weak recovery is gradually manifesting itself in the real economy of Greece. The recent data published by ELSTAT for the first two quarters of GDP performance in 2014 suggests that Greece is on course to register its first quarterly GDP level in positive territory in the third quarter this year.
...reinvigoration of the Greek economy will hardly gain traction if a shortage of financial resources to fund it persists. The case of neighbouring Italy is a warning sign for Greece. We learnt last week that the Italian economy yet again slipped back into recession in the second quarter of 2014. If such a scenario is to be avoided in Greece, there are important lessons to be learned and applied in the short-term for Athens.
Funding the recovery in Greece will need more than record tourism numbers for this year and even more emphasis being put on the narrative of this recovery. Scraping together new funding resources and instruments remains the order of the day for the authorities in Athens."
"As a fighter pilot myself, I am keenly aware of the importance of these kinds of exercises," said Hellenic air force Col. Ioannis Gerolimos, the 115th Combat Wing commander. "My aim is to make sure that the 115th CW is ready to deal with any operational situation in any environment. Also, this training exercise -- with the participation of the 480th (Fighter Squadron) -- gives us both the essential means in maintaining and enhancing the ability of our involving personnel to work together, which will be increasingly important to meet future challenges as allied air forces."
Flexible airpower derives from the ability to successfully plan, integrate, and provide command and control for a large number of tactical air assets, and each NATO partner nation may achieve their desired combat potential through rigorous peacetime training."
"...Greece, the world’s largest farmer of seabass and seabream, was the only significant European producer to experience any growth, driven by a 16% hike in seabass output (see charts below).
The FEAP 2014 report, available in full here, shows that European countries harvested 2.187 million metric tons of finfish in 2013. That represents a 3% or 68,000t drop from the previous year’s 2.255m tons.
Norway had the biggest drop, with volumes dropping by 55,000t from 1.325m to 1.27m tons."
"The playground of the 1960s jetset is back in fashion as the country's tourist hotspots give the economy a boost
...mega-yachts moored in its harbour, magnums of champagne sold on its beaches and dawn-to-dusk parties at its open-air clubs, Mykonos has reclaimed some of the glamour that made it a bacchanalian paradise for artists and the gay community half a century ago. "You bump into Conchita Wurst [winner of this year's European song contest] and think nothing of it," said one visitor, part of a crowd of six well-heeled gay men from the US who spent a week on the island during a cruise of the Aegean earlier this summer. "You definitely don't think 'crisis' when you are there."
For a country so dependent on tourism, the endorsements could not come at a better time. Against all the odds, Greece has attracted record numbers this year to become the hottest tourist destination on the continent of Europe. Despite a precipitous drop in tourists from Russia and Ukraine – an estimated 300,000 have cancelled holidays following the insurrection and drop in value of the rouble – the Mediterranean country is well on track to surpassing its target of 19 million visitors (21.5 million if cruise-ship visitors are taken into account), almost double the Greek population."
"It's official. Portugal, Greece and Spain are in deflation - while Italy isn't far behind. Prices in the three eurozone nations fell in July, while overall inflation in the currency bloc was confirmed at just 0.4pc, down from 0.5pc in June. This represents the lowest level in almost five years.
Prices in Greece fell by an average of 0.8pc in July, according to Eurostat, while prices in Portugal and Spain fell by 0.7pc and 0.4pc respectively. In Italy, the inflation rate was zero."
"Some 12,000 tons of peaches and nectarines on Wednesday remained in refrigerators in Imathia - one of the seven Greece's prefectures affected by the Russian food embargo - with another 13,000 tons of fruit remaining unpicked due to a flood of canceled deliveries, as Kathimerini online reports.
With agricultural experts from the European Union's 28 member states set to gather in Bruxelles on Thursday to estimate the broader impact of Moscow's ban ahead of calculating the compensation that should go to the various affected countries, authorities in seven prefectures in northern and central Greece are scrambling to assess their losses.
According to the head of the main group of agricultural cooperatives in Imathia, Christos Giannakakis, most of the trucks that had been dispatched with fruit for Russia have returned to the capital Veria following the cancellation of deliveries. But, he said, some of the truck drivers are trying to sell the fruit on their way back."
"Greece’s economy contracted at its slowest pace in almost six years, adding to signs that the country is set for a 2014 exit from its deepest recession in half a century as it emerges from its debt crisis.
Gross domestic product declined 0.2 percent in the three months through June from the same period last year, its 24th straight contraction, after dropping a revised 1.1 percent in the previous quarter, the Athens-based Hellenic Statistical Authority said in an e-mailed statement today. The contraction is the smallest since the third quarter of 2008 and beats the median estimate of a 0.5 percent drop in a Bloomberg survey.
“We’ve had a long-term positive trend,” said Christian Schulz, senior European economist at Berenberg Bank in London. “Whether the confidence can be strong enough to push Greece back into strong growth just yet is open to question. I think Greece will probably this year still have to rely on a positive tourist season.”
The Wall Street Journal take on the same news:
"Greece's latest round of tax hikes on real estate, which take effect next month, are already weighing heavily on sentiment in one of the economy's most crucial sectors and acts as a drag on a broader recovery.
"Expectations of a rationalization of property taxes in 2014 were not met, harming further the property market," said Alpha Bank ALPHA.AT +0.83% in a report. "The sector that is now delaying the economy's rebound is the real-estate market."
"Archaeologists excavating an ancient mound in northern Greece have uncovered what appears to be the entrance to an important tomb from about the end of the reign of warrior-king Alexander the Great, officials said Tuesday.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who visited the tightly-guarded site Tuesday, said the discovery "is clearly extremely important" and dates between 325-300 B.C.
Alexander, who started from the northern Greek region of Macedonia to build an empire stretching as far as India, died in 323 B.C. and was buried in Egypt. His fellow royals were traditionally interred in a cemetery near Vergina, far to the west, where the lavishly-furnished tomb of Alexander's father, Philip II, was discovered in the 1970s.
But archaeologists believe the apparently unlooted Amphipolis grave, which is surrounded by a surprisingly long and well-built wall with courses of marble decorations, may have belonged to a senior ancient official."
"Greece’s hopes of a 2014 exit from its deepest recession in a half-century may hit a stumbling block after Russia banned European Union food imports in retaliation for sanctions stemming from the insurgency in Ukraine.
“The estimated total cost of Russian counter-sanctions for the Greek economy may look tolerable, but the impact could be quite damaging for industries such as tourism and agriculture amid the fragility of a slowly recovering economy,” said Thanos Dokos, director-general of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, a Greek think-tank. “It also raises questions about energy security in the coming autumn and winter.”
Russia is Greece’s biggest trading partner, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The value of total trade between the two nations reached 9.3 billion euros ($12.5 billion) in 2013, surpassing trade flows between Greece and fellow EU-member German."
"After yesterday’s first round, in which he won more than 50 per cent of the vote, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the all-powerful Prime Minister since 2002, is almost certainly heading for several more years in power under a new label, giving him time to complete the construction of what he calls the “new Turkey”. The polls put him well ahead of his two rivals, a septuagenarian ex-diplomat and a young ethnic Kurd, which is not surprising, as the public has not learnt much about either candidate. Figures for last month showed that while Mr Erdogan received 533 minutes of airtime on state television to make his pitch, his two rivals got three minutes and 45 seconds respectively.
That farcically lopsided allocation of media coverage is only one of many indications that Turkey is morphing into a Russian-style “shell” democracy, in which managed plebiscites mask the essentially autocratic character of a system containing few or no checks and balances.
Like Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s strongman specialises in the rhetoric of “us and them”; in his case, railing against a strange and unlikely combination of Jews and supporters of the US-based Sunni cleric Fethullah Gulen, who, he insists, are plotting to destroy him. Lest anyone dismiss this as hot air, it should be noted that Mr Erdogan has made good use of these alleged conspiracies to ram through key changes, purging institutions of his opponents, starting with the army and police.
When he began putting generals on trial, Western governments were inclined to applaud, seeing the Turkish armed forces as over-fond of politics and their own privileges. But the purges have continued to the point where the only serious resistance to Mr Erdogan’s whims now comes from the judges, who in April bravely struck down his attempt to ban the use of social networks."
"Greece's recent efforts to get its public finances into shape could have been the model for recently defaulted Argentina to follow.
That's the view of Jean-Claude Juncker, the man who is due to take over the European Union's executive branch in November.
After talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens, Juncker said the reforms carried about by the country over the past few years could have served as a model for Argentina, which last week defaulted on its debts for the second time since 2001.
"Greece could have been a good example for Argentina to avoid the problems it was not able to avoid," Juncker said. "So Greece is not Argentina."
In his first trip abroad since being elected to head the European Commission, Juncker praised Greek efforts to improve public finances, and insisted that he played a key role in keeping the country in the euro currency zone.
"I really fought like a lion, I would say," Juncker said. "There was a great battle to counter those who wanted to remove Greece from the euro."
Greece, said Artistotle, is geographically intermediate, between Europe, apparently incapable of civilisation, and south-west Asia, where where only the King of Persia was fully a free man; and the Mean, or medium, to him was the best. Modern geologists add that the Aegean basin is a slab of the earth's crust which has sunk and tipped, leaving only a rim (the Greek peninsula and Crete) and mountain tops (the other islands) above sea-level.
Greece can therefore support a population, on its small though fertile plains, only much smaller than that of the adjacent slab of Asia Minor; a fact which affects the whole of Greek history. Greater wealth must be found overseas, by trade of colonization; and when adjacent powers in Italy or Asia are strong, Greece is threatened. Persia attempted conquest; Rome, the Franks and Turkey achieved it.
On the other hand, Greece enjoys, with its variety of scenery, clear air and summer heat tempered by north winds, an intensely stimulating environment; and when free, three times it has produced great art: the bronze-age Minoan-Mycenaean, the Classical and the Byzantine; all completely different, all unique."
From The Living Past of Greece: A Time-traveller's tour of historic and prehistoric places, by A. R. and Mary Burn. Published by Little, Brown and Company. 1980. Quote from page 9.