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Samaras to Bill Clinton: Economy in “Great Depression”; Clinton Promised to Help

Former US-president  Bill Clinton and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras agreed that the economic situation in Greece needs support. “Greece’s economy is in Great Depression  similar to the American one in the 1930s” Samaras told Clinton and he replied “Austerity is not working.”

Bill Clinton met Antonis Samaras in Athens on Sunday in the context of the Hellenic Initiative, a group of Greek-American business leaders cooperating with Clintons’ “global inititiative” foundation.

“You had the Great Depression in the United States,” Samaras told Clinton, who was visiting Greece as part of a delegation of Greek-American businessmen. “This is exactly what we’re going through in Greece – it’s our version of the Great Depression.”

Mr Clinton criticized Greece’s lenders for focusing excessively on austerity, saying Athens will be more likely to repay its debt if its manages economic recovery first.

“(It) is self-defeating… if every day people are saying this may or may not work to give us back a 100 cents on the dollar, so give us more austerity today,” he told Samaras.

“People need something to look forward to when they get up in the morning – young Greeks need something to believe in so they can stake their future out here,”  Clinton said.

“We need to jump-start the economy and move ahead with reforms to restore competitiveness . . . with the support of our European partners and the vibrant communities of the Greek diaspora.”

The talks focused on ways of attracting investment and strengthening the Greek economy and the country’s international credibility with the help of overseas Greeks and the Clinton Foundation,  Samaras said.

According to Eurostat, the EU statistics arm, almost 30 per cent of Greeks are already at risk of poverty and social exclusion. This number is estimated to be rising, according to an official at the Athens branch of the Niarchos Foundation, a US-based charity. (Financial Times)

“Greece hopes to attract millions of dollars in inward investment and charitable donations following Clintons’ visit” FT stressed.

According to Greek Reporter

“The Hellenic Initiative,” a non-profit organization is organized by Greeks of the Diaspora that aims to help Greece overcome the current crisis. The program aims to raise $100 million to help Greek charities struggling during the country’s economic crisis and in its second phase to attract investments and improve Greece’s image.

Hellenic Initiative leaders, include Chicago money manager John Calamos, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris and Washington attorney George Stamas. The group wants to use donations to help Greece make structural reforms including improving tax collections to raise revenues in a culture of rampant tax evasion, and promote foreign investment, but its primary mission is to help charities it said have a record for accountability and transparency in a country where corruption is rife.

Diaspora leaders have for years tried to help Greece but been rebuffed. Clinton’s involvement and his work in global programs is expected to give this effort a critical boost.”

And here we are: We, Greeks, in need of charities and donations. But most of all we are in need of investments to create jobs and give people their dignity back!

Other sources: Reuters, Greek media, Telegraph




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  1. And Slick Willy replied, “I FEEL your pain”, “I know all about depression, look at who I am married to, I KNOW depression.”

    “Now where are those cigars and Greek virgins you promised me”?

    Believe me, the only things Clinton is going to leave for Greece are some wet spots on the floor.

  2. keeptalkinggreece

    LOL – or on some clothes (skirts, dresses, trousers). you think he still “boost” … economy?

  3. Yes he can do a lot of “boosting”.

    My advice is to hide your wives, girlfriends, sisters, mothers, daughters, goats, sheep, and all pets and farm animals until he safely out of your country.

  4. keeptalkinggreece

    oops! now I know why my cat and my granny have been hiding all day today

  5. There are countless disillusioned stories of Greek expats, trying to help their home country, to be found in the letter section of Ekathimerini. There’s a lot of goodwill and capital, but only if the adminstration is reformed and red tape removed will this lead to a recovery.

  6. giaoýrti giaoyrtáki

    There are enough examples in the Diaspora how people help with organizing Greek culture fests to raise money or send lorries through Europe to collect needed things and bring it down to Greece. But these people are not worth to mention because they are not about to start some “helpful” business.

  7. keeptalkinggreece

    of course, we can complain about everyone and everything. if they feel all thei can give is charity, why not? there are many families in rela need nowadays.

  8. giaoýrti giaoyrtáki

    Complaining are those businessmen not the people helping with charity. I remember a story about the difficulties to open up an online shop and at the end came out that this business was too stupid to use paypal.

  9. keeptalkinggreece

    ues, but you can’t always put everyting in one pot and stir…

  10. I remember a story about opening up an online shop in Greece, too. Was it in the NYT, linked by Athensnews? It took the guy months to get a phone and internet connection for his office (and, yeah, I know who owns OTE, but it’s Greeks who work there). But more to the point is the story of the guy who wrote to Ekathimerini about how he had to spend a whole day running from one office to another (and, of course, paying fees very time) in order to get the necessary paperwork for buying and operating an agricultural machine? That’s totally unnecessary red tape that is hamepring business and reducing productivity. This stuuff should be done online nowadays, talking to officials (and especially waiting in line!) is so 19th century. No surprise that Greece comes at place 100 in the ranking of ease of doing business:
    Investors read such lists, too. And create jobs elsewhere.

  11. keeptalkinggreece

    I see. Greeks work and the German management is sleeping (OTE)?

  12. Either that, or the other way round. Maybe a journalist should look into what’s going on at OTE. Do you know one?
    But remember: After their privatisation in 1995, it took German Telecom more than ten years to become more like a business oriented company than a sleepy bureaucracy. Why should it be different in Greece? Probably it will take even longer there.

  13. Setting aside some of ex-prez Clinton’s character flaws, he’s a very intelligent, articulate and well connected individual. He’s leading the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, facilitating the flow of funds toward reconstruction projects in the country. He might be known as slick Willie, for saying he “smoked but didn’t inhale”, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinski”, and “define the word is”. So, the person who’s sinless should cast the first stone. If ex-prez Clinton’s visit improves the foreign investment climate in Greece, it would be a positive outcome.

    In my humble opinion, the Greek government should create and implement an economic plan which is based on the following elements: 1) Making the austerity measures even-handed and lessening their impact on the financially vulnerable Greek citizens, 2) Focusing on development programs and the reduction of the current staggering unemployment rate, 3) Introducing targeted tax cuts and incentives, and reducing the para-economy and tax evasion, 4) Curbing bureaucracy and intensifying efforts to attract foreign investments, 5) Promoting Greece’s physical beauties abroad, 6) Making sustainable efforts to produce primary budget surpluses so the country can live within its means, 7) Earning the cooperation and the trust of the Greek people, 8) Making sure that the tax burden is distributed fairly among all Greeks, 9) Conducting real competitions for public works projects and military procurements, 10) Exploring and exploiting Greece’s oil and natural gas reserves, as well as precious metals and mineral deposits, 11) Acting decisively and achieving tangible results within a reasonable time period, 12) Developing programs designed to keep existing jobs and creating new good-paying and high-tech jobs, 13) Proceeding cautiously with the privatization of government owned and operated companies & organizations and 14) Reducing the trade deficit and urging consumers to buy Greek products.

    By prioritizing and focusing like a laser light on: A) The privatization of government owned and operated companies & organizations, and B) The reduction of the para-economy and tax evasion, Greece’s economic prospects will gradually improve.

  14. Capitalist Utopia in a nutshell. The only economic prospects that will imporve based on this are those of large corporations and banks. The economic prospects of Greece will be, at best, made dependent on these vultures again.
    The only way out of this is to get out of it permanently. Refuse to play the international rat race and develop an economy to sustain your society instead working your society to death to maintain somebody elses bank balance and immoral profits…

  15. You can’t get out of the dreadful conditions of glogalisation permanently. Greece doesn’t have the natural resources nor the size to be independent from internaitonal trade. Your radical ideas are a road to ruin. Or else Cuba would be a socialist paradise (not to belittle the impressive accomplishments of the Cuban people, especially under the impact of US blockade, but a paradise, Cuba ain’t).

  16. I know Cuba isn’t paradise, I lived there for a while. But I will tell you this, it’s much more paradise than the “vision” of Europe held in front of us by those who hijacked the real vision of Europe.
    And as everywhere else, if outsiders would only stop sticking their grubby little fingers and noses in other nations affairs, and look at “foreign relations” as exactly that instead of a nice way of saying “We’ll protect “our” interests, by hook or by crook”, then we wouldn’t be in half the problems we are in. Especially if those “interests” aren’t all as kosher as we are expected to view them…

  17. I was in Cuba two weeks ago. It is definitely not Europe, and if you think its an improvement, I’m sure you will find 1000000 Cubans that are willing to trade places with you, even in the current state of greece!

  18. Well, as long as you rely on other people’s money to keep your nation running, you have to accept their fingers in front of your face, too, Ephi. Afaik Cuba isn’t subsidized by any foreign power anymore, and they have their own currency, so they can proudly go their own way and make their own decisions. Greece does have this option, too. Your choice.

  19. Right, gr, the state of affairs in Cuba is nothing to be envious about. However, in a comparison with Latin American nations, they don’t fare so badly in many important regards. Here’s hoping the Cubans will find their own way of preserving their achievements while carefully opening up their economy to a regulated, socially acceptable capitalism that serves the interests of the people. If they could combine the best of both worlds, Cubans could become the Swiss of their hemisphere and an example for other nations. Maybe I’m hopelessly optimistic, but I believe that’s possible.