The Future of the European Union: The View from Greece
Ambassador Christos P. Panagopoulos
Photos | Transcript

Washington, DC—On April 9, 2013, Ambassador Christos Panagopoulos of Greece, addressed WFPG at an Embassy Series event moderated by journalist Thalia Assuras on "The Future of the European Union: The View from Greece". The Ambassador discussed economic challenges in Greece, including the euro-zone debt crisis, and the steps his government is taking to combat this through economic programs and trimming the public sector. He stressed the need for job creation to address widespread unemployment, especially among youth. On a positive note, the Ambassador shared that tourism in Greece is expected to hit a new high this year. The program was held at the Harvard University Center for Hellenic Studies.

Ambassador Panagopoulos explained that, contrary to today’s headlines which focus on the economic situation, the European Union is persevering. He pointed to the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the EU as an indication of its success and praised the EU for ensuring political stability in the region and for maintaining solidarity, particularly during Greece’s economic adjustment period. Mobility and migration within the EU has also created numerous opportunities for citizens. Illegal immigration however, continues to be an issue, especially in Greece.

On the euro-zone crisis, the Ambassador said, “We are now in our sixth year of recession in Greece and unemployment has reached, as we talked before, a high level of 26%, with 57.6% of youth currently unemployed.” The Ambassador underlined that Greece is working hard to reduce its deficit by cutting spending and increasing taxes. When asked what the government is doing to create jobs, he said that it intends to increase its competiveness in the world market by focusing on tourism and SMEs. Ambassador Panagopoulos cited in-state tourism as “a pillar of our economic growth” and noted that it has been steadily climbing. The industry is expected to regain over two-thirds of its competitiveness and bring in more revenue in the coming years.

Ambassador Panagopoulos also expressed his support of Cyprus during its economic crisis and said he had full faith that it would overcome its current financial problems. He also mentioned that the discovery of natural gas off the coast of Cyprus and Greece could add value to both of their economies in the future. Furthermore, Cyprus, Israel, Greece, and the US have formed a partnership to bring peace and stability to the southeastern Mediterranean. Greece and Turkey have also taken steps to repair their relationship, and the Ambassador highlighted that Turkey has emerged as a promising business investor. The Ambassador also stressed that the EU, has the power to overcome the crisis if its member states work together. He stated that, “all euro-zone partners, creditors and debtors alike, must work together in order to improve the euro-zone balance of payments.” Ambassador Panagopoulos also asserted that the only way to repair relations between the EU countries struggling economically and those encouraging austerity measures is by confronting old stereotypes. To remain strong, the Ambassador emphasized that all EU nations must join together and become more understanding of their neighbors.


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Ambassador Panagopoulos, Board Member Gail Leftwich Kitch, WFPG President Patricia Ellis, and Edmund Kitch


Ambassador Panagopoulos with Zoie Lafis of Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies 

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Ambassador Panagopoulous and Thalia Assuras


Patricia Ellis welcomes guests and opens the program

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A participant asks a question


Ambassador Panagopoulos addresses WFPG 

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The audience listens to the discussion


Ambassador Panagopoulous and Thalia Assuras
during the conversation

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Ambassador Panagopoulos introduces Norman Sandridge of Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies to Thalia Assuras


Deputy Chief of Mission of Barbados Nicolla Simone Rudder, Deputy Chief of Mission of Greece Sophia Philippidou,
and Patricia Ellis 

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Ambassador Panagopoulos and Joëlle Attinger,
President of the European Institute 


Dr. Nicholas Constantinople, Ambassador Panagopoulos,
and Edmund Kitch