© Copyright Embassy of Greece 1996-2005. All Rights Reserved.
20 January, 2001
Euro-zone President and Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reiders on Friday praised Greece for the efforts it had made to join the euro zone after setting out in worse conditions than other countries.
He was speaking at an event held here to welcome Greece's membership of the euro zone, which came into effect on January 1.
Apart from euro-zone ministers, the event was attended by European Central Bank President Bim Duisenberg, European Commission President Romano Prodi and economic affairs commissioner, Pedro Solbes.
Greek National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou responded by offering assurances of Greece's positive and constructive role in the euro zone "for both its own benefit and that of its partners."
During the preceding euro-zone meeting, Papantoniou referred to Greece's targets for real and social convergence to enable the country to reach the prosperity levels of developed countries. He said Greece would be in a position to increase growth rates to 5.0 percent in 2001.
The euro group, assessing economic developments, mentioned the decrease in interest rates, which will favor development, the strengthening of the role of the euro, the drop in oil prices and the decline in US economic activity.
Taking all these factors into consideration, the group predicted strong development in the euro zone in 2001 in the region of 3.0 percent.
Meanwhile, in an interview in Saturday's edition of the French newspaper "Le Monde", the president of the euro group said that "Europe is an open house and so is the euro. We should encourage our partners, who are hesitant, to meet us."
Reiders also said that when the first euro coins reach people's wallets, the European currency would acquire a great attraction even for those who are not in the euro zone.
The European Union's Council of Finance Ministers (ECOFIN) convened here after the euro group and discussed the priorities of the Swedish presidency.
Papantoniou said the presidency's program is realistic and useful, having strong growth and an increase in employment as priorities.
The finance ministers also referred to EU enlargement, saying that it should not upset economic equilibrium, as well as the crucial nature of aid for the western Balkans.
Source: Athens News Agency