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The financial elite of Athens honours Lucas Papademos

15 January 2013 / 18:01:51  GRReporter
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Victoria Mindova

The Institute for Industrial and Economic Research (IOBE) awarded former Vice President of the European Central Bank and former Prime Minister of Greece Lucas Papademos for his contribution to the national economy. He led last year the interim government of the country after George Papandreou surrendered, negotiated the second package for the financial stability of Greece and implemented the haircut of the Greek debt by more than 100 billion euro.

The award ceremony took place in the building of Latsis Foundation, which looks like a Hollywood scene of a film about the life of stars. The beautiful neoclassical building, surrounded by a wrought iron fence, with its large garden with a fountain in front of the main entrance, received the financial and political elite of Greece.

Owners of banks, executive directors, big businessmen and senior officials attended the ceremony. Mariana Latsis, who did not fail to greet any of the important guests, hosted the event. The head of the Institute for Industrial and Economic Research, Odysseus Kyriakopoulos was walking among the guests in the lobby of the reception hall and talking to those, who had come to honour the awarding of Papademos.

Among them were the president of the National Bank of Greece (NBG) George Zanias, its executive director Alexandros Tourkolias and his predecessor Apostolos Tamvakakis. The event was also attended by president of Alpha Bank Yiannis Costopoulos and its executive director Dimitris Matzounis, chairman of Eurobank Timos Christodoulou, executive director Nikos Nanopoulos and deputy executive director Nikos Karamouzis.

The head of the State Property Management Agency Takis Athanasopoulos talked with representatives of the banking sector, who did not fail to greet the Governor of the Bank of Greece George Provopoulos. The former head of the central bank Nikos Garganas also attended the ceremony. The ministers of the interim government of Lucas Papademos, Anna Diamantopoulou and Tassos Yianitsis, honoured the ceremony too together with the official spokesman of their government Pantelis Capsis. Among those invited were George Alagoskoufis, who was the finance minister in the government of Kostas Karamanlis and his counterpart Yiannos Papadoniou, who was part of the Cabinet of Kostas Simitis. The head of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, Lucas Tsoukalis, was also among those present.

Secretary General for Trade at the Ministry of Economy and Development Stefanos Kominos also attended the event. Representatives of the real business such as president of the Union of Exporters Christina Sakelaridi, president of the Association of Tourism Enterprises Andreas Andreadis and head of the Greek Union of Enterprises Dimitris Daskalopoulos were also invited. Christina Sakelaridi, who is a doyen in the Greek business circles, was warmly greeted by Mariana Latsis but was later seated at a table in that part of the hall, which was the farthest from the rostrum of official speakers. When the time came to award Papademos, she had to stand up in order to see the presentation of the honorary diploma.

The doors of the hall hosting the official ceremony opened shortly after half past eight in the evening. The round tables were covered with shining white tablecloths and cutlery, there were white chairs arranged around them and impressive chandeliers were hanging from the ceiling. Once the guests were seated, IOBE’s president Odysseas Kyriakopoulos inaugurated the event. He said that today, Greece owes the stability achieved to the government of Lucas Papademos.

The former chairman of the National Bank of Greece, Vasilis Rapanos, talked about the academic and professional career of Lucas Papademos. He pointed out not only the academic achievements of the financier but also cited the opinions of some of his most distinguished colleagues. Rapanos said that according to Jean-Claude Trichet, since the outbreak of the global crisis in 2008, Lucas Papademos had been at the forefront in protecting the stability of the financial system and had played a crucial role in alleviating the shocks of it. The head of Bundesbank, Axel Weber, considers Papademos a professional of the highest calibre and always listens to what the Greek financier has to say.

Lucas Papademos, in turn, delivered a speech before accepting the official honours, which took more than half an hour. Among the series of conclusions and balances on how Greece has reached its present state and what needs to be done in the future, Papademos said some biting truths.

"Nothing can be achieved by wishes, ideological theories and baseless hopes alone. On the contrary, these create false expectations and the false idea that there are easy solutions to difficult problems that have been plaguing our country for years now." The former Prime Minister stressed that the more quick and decisive the implementation of reforms in a transitional period, the more successful the recovery programme. Greece has been late in that direction and now, more than one million unemployed in the country are paying the price of the indecision and mistakes of previous governments.

"There is no doubt that the irresponsible and short-sighted policy, which was pursued not all the time but in periods in Greece, has led to the accumulation of the very high external debt and made the country dependent on the lenders," said Papademos and added that the second reason for the complete collapse of the Greek economy was the undermining of private initiative and the creation of customer attitudes in public administration.

According to Lucas Papademos, Greece has currently overcome the middle of the road to economic recovery. However, he recalls that like in a marathon, the last metres of the race against time may be the most severe.

The closing speech before the official awarding of the former Prime Minister of Greece was delivered by current Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras. "I believe that Lucas Papademos will be one of those persons whom history will reward for his contribution to the country and beyond its boundaries," said Stournaras and then presented a brief picture of how he sees Greece beyond the financial crisis. The entire hall greeted the award with applause, which marked the end of the ninety-minute ceremony. An official dinner followed during which bankers, politicians and businessmen were able to exchange views on the course of the country.

The prominent guests’ luxury cars were parked in front of the main entrance of the Foundation and the personal guards and drivers of the honoured guests were walking around them. They were smoking cigarettes, talking to each other and keeping an eye on every movement around the building. The attention of the guard was particularly strong at the beginning of the ceremony, when about 200 people had gathered in front of the Latsis Foundation to protest against the award of Papademos.

An hour before the official event, representatives of Panos Kamenos’ Independent Greeks party tried to boycott the ceremony. The people, who had gathered outside, were chanting and booing the guests entering through the front entrance of the gala dinner. Two armoured buses of riot police forces had closed off the meeting, which was to boo Papademos. There were no serious clashes or injured. The protesters were holding posters reading "Out with the thieves" and "Down with the IMF" as well as a large one with the sign of Independent Greeks, which read, "They are rewarding the traitors in order not to punish them." At the end of the official part of the ceremony at 10:30 pm, the spirits were calmed, the protesters had left and the guards were peacefully awaiting the end of the dinner.

Tags: PoliticsEconomyPapademosAwardingMerits
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