Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram At the end of another tense week for Greece, the mood within the government appeared to be one of cautious optimism and relief on Thursday as foreign officials returned to resume their audit of Greek finances and Germany’s parliament approved a European bailout fund. Addressing a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister George Papandreou thanked party cadres for taking the “difficult but necessary” decision of backing a controversial new property tax in a parliamentary vote on Tuesday – a move widely believed to have convinced foreign auditors of the government’s resolve – and stressed that his administration’s priority remained the implementation of a second Greek bailout, hammered out as part of a broader eurozone rescue fund in July by European leaders. “It goes without saying how crucial this agreement is for our country,” said Papandreou, who was due in Paris Friday to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. “These are decisions taken after months of negotiation, based on the sacrifices of the Greek people,” he said. Germany’s parliament on Thursday became the latest eurozone member state to ratify the fund, whose implementation would be a major step toward tackling the bloc’s broadening debt crisis. In a related development, Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that a decision on whether to release the sixth tranche of bailout loans to Greece, valued at 8 billion euros, would be taken on October 13. In an interview with German weekly Die Zeit, Schaeuble said Greece should be given more time to sort out its fiscal shortcomings. Papandreou told Thursday’s cabinet meeting, which focused on a new tax system being finalized and on a scheme to slash the public sector, that the new reforms were bound to provoke more political and social upheaval. “No one should take advantage of the pain of the Greek people which we are only too mindful of,” said the premier. There were some tense moments during the meeting, notably when Justice Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou accused Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos of “shilly-shallying” over a new policy obliging taxpayers to submit half their annual income’s worth of receipts with their tax returns. Source: Kathimerini
In order to welcome more Chinese travellers to Europe and making their travel to Europe easier during the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year, Europe is taking a number of measures, the European Travel Commission recently said in Shanghai.Measures include Chinese language material at venues such as airports, tourist information centres, hotels and shopping malls, and staff who can speak Mandarin at these spots, said Eduardo Santander, Executive Director, European Travel Commission.“We are also facilitating the acceptance of Union Pay payments in Europe,” said Santander. Better visa policies toward China and more direct flights linking Chinese and European cities are also on the agenda, he said.The commission has also teamed up with ‘Welcome Chinese Certification’ to create better experiences for Chinese tourists. Welcome Chinese is the official standard certification released by China’s Tourism Academy, which guarantees Chinese tourists feel comfortable, travel easily and feel welcome at overseas destinations.“A main objective of the commission this year is to improve connectivity between China and Europe,” said Santander. “We invite Chinese to enjoy another kind of Europe, which is less crowded, more peaceful, laid-back, and off the beaten track.”The commission and Welcome Chinese Certification announced that UnionPay International, Ctrip, Tuniu, Tencent, travel review website Qyer.com, Fliggy and Tongcheng had become official partners of the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year.China is the world’s top outbound tourism market with 147 million outbound travellers last year, spending USD 220 billion.“The trend is that some emerging destinations in central and east Europe are gaining popularity among Chinese because of the Belt and Road construction, more direct flights and relaxed visa policies,” Jiang Yiyi, head of International Tourism Research of China Tourism Academy said recently.