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News Analysis: Greece, Europe come out of Greek presidency stronger, journey continues

English.news.cn   2014-07-03 07:47:50

ATHENS, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Greece ended its six-month European Union (EU) presidency term on June 30, successfully meeting the objectives it set for itself, according to the assessment of Greek and European officials and analysts.

Greece and Europe come out of the Greek EU presidency stronger to continue through Italy over the second half of 2014 the journey towards a better EU.

A total of 67 political agreements were drawn up over the past few months in the fifth time that Greece held the rotating presidency of the EU after having joined the union in 1983.

For its presidency program, Athens had chosen the motto "Europe: Our Common Quest", focusing on four key areas of common interest and concern among European partners: job creation, growth and social cohesion; further deepening of economic and monetary union; migration, borders and mobility; and maritime policy.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos outlined some of the highlights of the presidency based on the targets set during the closing ceremony in Athens on Monday night ahead of a similar closing event in Strasbourg.

They noted that the Greek EU presidency launched the dialogue on the long-term financing of the economy and implemented the Youth Initiative to stimulate jobs for European youth.

In terms of deepening the union, Greek officials pointed to the compromise reached in March on the Banking Union between the European Council and the European Parliament on the Single Resolution Mechanism to avert banks failure.

Reviewing the six-month stint, they also referred to steps regarding migration and border management to enhance security aimed at shaping guidelines to be adopted by the European Council on justice and internal affairs, progress on the Common Agricultural Policy and the adoption of a text on Maritime Strategy to tackle organized crime and environmental hazards.

"Mission accomplished, Greece delivered" is the motto on the lips of Greek officials and reports in Greek media this week, which is reaffirmed by other European counterparts who congratulate Greece for a "productive" term.

Perhaps the top achievement the Greek presidency scored according to all however has been the fact that it showed the world that after a severe debt crisis, which tarnished its international image over the past four years, the country is back to normality as an equal member state capable of assuming responsibilities, managing a tight budget and leading the way to concrete results.

At the start of the Greek EU presidency in January there had been much skepticism whether ailing Greece which had become a symbol of the international financial crisis would make it, in particular amidst a challenging environment ahead of the May European elections which shortened the time framework.

The first half of 2014 was a turning point for Greece as well as the entire Europe as they are exiting the severe economic crisis.

"We proved naysayers wrong. Greece and Europe proved wrong all those who bet on their failure and dissolution," Samaras stressed.

On financial terms the presidency's costs amounted to just 19 million euros (26 million U.S. dollars), about 40 percent of the initial budget of 50 million euros which was already lower than the funds allocated for recent previous EU presidencies.

During the Greek EU presidency in regards to Greek finances, Athens reported a primary surplus which opens the way for the launch of negotiations with international creditors on further debt relief.

Greece achieved fiscal adjustment, reassessed the international funding markets again in spring and is exiting the prolonged recession and the crisis.

"The Greek presidency reached the end, the journey continues. Together we sail further," the Greeks bid farewell, wishing best success to the Italians who took over on July 1 the EU presidency for the next six months to continue the work.

Editor: Shen Qing
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