Prime minister George Papandreou stressed his determination to proceed with the necessary reforms and changes despite mobilisations and protests, in his closing address on Thursday to an event organised by the Foreign Ministry and the visiting Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations (CoP).

"The Greek people are aware, even though these changes are truly painful, that these deep changes and reforms are necessary in order to create a viable economy and a country that is more secure," he emphasised.

Papandreou briefed the Council of Presidents on the measures taken in Greece to overcome the crisis, expressing his conviction that the effort will succeed.

He pointed to the first positive signs for the economy, such as the 38 percent rise in exports in 2008 and a 200 percent increase in tourist traffic from Israel.

Papandreou also announced plans to organise a common session of the Greek and Israeli cabinets in Athens in April.

Outlining proposals being discussed in Europe for tackling the debt crisis, he said the aim was to make Europe more competitive and more innovative by investing in innovation and the green development of infrastructure through the issue of a Eurobond.

The premier also referred to the crisis in Egypt, stressing that stability in the region and its smooth restoration must be ensured, and that international law and the international treaties must be respected.

He stressed in response to a question by CoP chairman Alan Solow that Greece and the EU wanted peace and a resolution of the problems, with states in the region respecting Israel's sovereignty and security.

Papandreou also repeated a position in favour of establishing an independent and stable Palestinian state, saying that this would help enhance Israel's security.

The Greek prime minister promised to continue efforts to reach an understanding with Russia's leadership on an exchange of files concerning the Jewish communities in Greece and Russia.

The private seminar was also briefed by Greece's defence minister Evangelos Venizelos, Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis and Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos.

DM addresses Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations

Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos, addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations on Thursday, referred to the situation in the Middle East as a result of recent developments in Egypt, Greek-Turkish relations and the day-to-day situation in the Aegean, the way with which Greece conceives its participation in the European Union's Common Security and Defence Policy and NATO, the significance attributed by Greece to bilateral Greek-American defence cooperation and the prospects of the new Greece-Israel partnership strategy, as well as the framework of Greek defence policy.

As regards Greece's relations with Turkey, the defence minister reiterated that Greece's basic policy is the establishment of relations of good neighbourliness and close cooperation and stressed the importance of both sides implementing Confidence Building Measures. All these always in light of International Law and the Law of the Sea in particular, as he mentioned specifically.

On the question of Greek-Israeli relations, Venizelos pointed out that cooperation between the two countries must have the characteristics of a strategic cooperation, while referring to the Jewish tradition of Thessaloniki and the participation of the forces of the Air Force in the handling of the destructive wildfire in Israel last December.