Ambassador hosts Samaras in Athens

first_imgJenny Bloomfield, Australia’s ambassador to Greece, welcomed Prime Minister Antonis Samaras as guest of honour to a lunch at her residence last week, along with heads of missions of the G20 countries based in the Greek capital.The lunch – to mark Australia’s presidency of the G20 and the first ministerial meeting of the G20 in Sydney last weekend, and Greece’s presidency of the Council of the European Union – provided a timely opportunity for Ambassador Bloomfield to outline Australia’s priorities for its presidency of the world’s most powerful inter-governmental body, and for Mr Samaras to report on Greece’s progress in relation to its own economic reform program.During the working lunch, Ambassador Bloomfield outlined the Australian government’s G20 agenda: a focus on practical measures to drive stronger, sustainable and balanced economic growth and to strengthen the resilience of the global economy. Mrs Bloomfield went on to underline Australia’s credentials to urge such action – noting Australia’s strong economic performance and record of reform over many years. The ambassador added that the respectively held presidencies provided a unique opportunity for Greece and Australia to cooperate on the world stage to realise shared goals.After congratulating Australia on its G20 presidency, Mr Samaras echoed the point – noting the commonality of objectives facing Greece and Australia at the national, EU and global level. The PM briefed the ambassadorial gathering on Greece’s reform program that has seen painful changes to the labour market, pensions, the health system and tax administration. Since 2009 Greece’s primary fiscal deficit has been reduced by more than 10 per cent of GDP and is on track to meet required targets. Meanwhile Greece’s current account deficit – that stood at almost 15 per cent of GDP in 2008 – is reported by the Greek Ministry of Finance this month to have gone into surplus.At the G20 ministerial meeting in Sydney last weekend, finance ministers and central bank governors committed to implement policies to grow collective GDP by more than 2 per cent above the current trajectory over the next five years in order to ramp up global economic activity and job creation. As a first step to achieving this target, each country will deliver a growth strategy at the Brisbane G20 Leaders’ Summit in November, with concrete actions required to boost investment, trade, competition and employment, as well as macroeconomic stability.Greece’s presidency of the EU began in January and will conclude in June. Likely to be uppermost on the EU’s agenda in 2014 is employment growth and the establishment of a European banking union. A further priority will be to review immigration and border policies in order to reflect the needs of member states – like Greece – who have experienced an influx of illegal immigrants set on making new lives in Europe. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more