Government vice president and finance minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday night addressed the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington on "The Greek Debt Crisis: Challenges and Opportunities".
Venizelos sent a decisive and optimistic message about Greece overcoming the obstacles and efficiently dealing with the economic crisis, adding that there was strong US support that could take on a much more specific and practical form.
The Greek minister outlined the more general problem that has arisen in the eurozone and the development of events after the support mechanism for the Greek economy, as well as the programmes for Portugal and Ireland that followed.
In Greece's case, he said, the problem was more complex, since it was not only the excessive debt but also the excessive fiscal deficit and deficit in the current accounts balance which, he added, reflects a deficit in the competitiveness of the Greek economy and the excessive magnitude of consumption in relation to production.
Venizelos went on to outline the government's policies and planning to deal with the crisis at all levels, such as the introduction of a modern taxation system, drastic reduction of the black economy and stamping out tax evasion, and the adoption of structural changes to render the Greek economy competitive.
He also noted the lead to eliminate obstacles in order to made Greece investor-friendly.
"This is a very ambitious task," he said, given that the fiscal deficit needs to be drastically reduced in the space of three years from 15.5 of GDP percent in 2009 to a primary surplus in 2012.
Venizelos stressed that the Greek government is determined to fully take advantage of the opportunity provided by the recent eurozone summit decisions, the European 'Marshall Plan' for Greece, and activate all the forces inside and outside Greece, including the Greeks abroad and Greek merchant shipping, to give Greece a competitive place on the international market.
FinMin in Washington: Backing from US government, IMF for Greece's efforts
Greek finance minister and government vice president Evangelos Venizelos noted the US government's and International Monetary Fund's (IMF) firm backing of Greece's efforts for fiscal consolidation and economic recovery, after meetings in Washington with top officials on Monday.
Venizelos, who was on a one-day visit to Washington, was speaking to the press after meetings with the IMF's new managing director Christine Lagarde and US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner.
He also had separate meetings with Institute of International Finance (IIF) managing director Charles Dallara and leading Congressional members Senator and chairman of the Senate standing Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Tim Johnson, and Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate's standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.
On Monday night he addressed the Peterson Institute for International Economics on "The Greek Debt Crisis: Challenges and Opportunities".
After his talks, Venizelos told reporters that the US government is sending a "clear message" to the markets.
As for the IMF, he said it has "a very positive stance", stressing at the same time that "everything depends on our own ability to implement the programme and achieve specific results".
Venizelos said he had a "very good" meeting with Geithner, adding that the US government "supports Greece's new programme and will express its support both at bilateral level and via the IMF".
"This is a very clear message to the markets, to the international community. It is an act of support of Greece and its citizens who are undergoing sacrifices in order to restructure the country," he said.
Venizelos said he had an equally interesting and lengthy working meeting with IMF chief Lagarde and her staff with discussions covering all issues.
"The IMF's stance is very positive. Of course, everything depends on us. Everything depends on our own ability to implement the programme and achieve specific results. If we apply the programme and present results, the IMF and the international community will back Greece until it restores its fiscal sovereignty and independence, until it attains the position deserving of its history and of the abilities of the Greek nation. In this respect, the meeting was particularly optimistic and supportive," he said.