Spotlight: Greece ushers in New Year while challenges remain

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-01 16:12:15|Editor: Yurou
Video PlayerClose

by Xinhua writers Yu Shuaishuai, Maria Spiliopoulou

ATHENS, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- Greece ushered in the New Year as people celebrated at the foot of the Acropolis Hill with a big party despite the rain on Monday evening.

Experts believed the year 2019 could be a turning point for the country in the post-bailout era.

Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in his e-mail message for the New Year, stressed the importance of unity among the Greek people to meet national goals.

Pavlopoulos noted that at this critical juncture, Greece has a duty to meet three targets related to the progress of the nation, the European Union and the protection of national issues and the law.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in his New Year's message that the year 2019 will be the first year that the struggles and sacrifices of the Greek people will yield results, describing the new year as "a year of hope, optimism, expectation and creativity" and promising to reduce unemployment as quickly as possible.

For some Greek officials and analysts, the economic recovery and general elections remain the top two issues for Greece in 2019, following the country's formal exit from the eight-year bailout programs in August.

The country's national news agency, the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, published an article on Sunday, quoting the heads of major Greek chambers of commerce as saying that the year 2019 can be a turning point for Greece, in which targeted hard work can potentially be translated into economic recovery and a return to prosperity.

Constantinos Michalos, president of both the Union of Hellenic Chambers and the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said attracting private capital and investments from abroad are the key to the recovery of Greece's economy.

"We must now focus on attracting private capital and investments from abroad, support the outward orientation and competitiveness of Greek businesses, enhance the diversification and technological content of our products and services with a view to increasing the value of Greek exports," he said.

Head of the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vassilis Korkidis said 2019 would be a demanding year for all and called for fewer taxes and more jobs.

"More industriousness is needed, because nothing can proceed without hard work, but only on condition that there are jobs," he said.

The other major challenge for Greece in 2019 will be the election agenda, which analysts predicted will be held earlier and may largely affect the country's reform process.

For Greece, 2019 is a year of elections -- national, local and for the European Parliament.

Greece can save 2019 by pushing elections forward, Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of Teneo Intelligence, told the Greek "Kathimerini" newspaper in an article published on Sunday.

"In the best-case scenario, the general elections will be brought forward to May so that the second half of the year would not necessarily be written off," he said.

Greece's influential "To Vima" newspaper was reserved regarding its expectations for the country in 2019, saying in an editorial published on Sunday that until now Greece is still affected by the consequences of bankruptcy, and it has not achieved the desired leaps in growth and progress that would give people a breather.

The editorial also pointed out that the electoral cycle can open a window of opportunity, leading the country to great changes and recovery.