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SUBJECT [July 18] Greece's new parliament sworn in; Armenian Speaker meets US Speaker; Iranian Speaker highlights efforts to reduce economic pressures against Iran
DATE 2019-07-18


PHOTO: Xinhua. Panagiotis Moschandreou. Members of the new Greek parliament are sworn in at the Hellenic Parliament in Athens, Greece, on July 17, 2019. The 300 deputies of the 18th session of the Greek Parliament, elected from the July 7 general elections, was sworn in on Wednesday.


300 deputies of the 18th session of the Greek Parliament, elected from the July 7 general elections, was sworn in on Jul 17. Six parties are represented in the new parliament: conservative New Democracy with 158 seats, main opposition Radical Left SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance with 86, center-Left Movement of Change (KINAL) with 22, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 15, right-wing Greek Solution with 10 seats, and finally leftist MeRA25 with 9 seats. The six-party parliament will officially begin its functions after electing a speaker on Thursday, and the new Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will outline his government's policies at the weekend before a vote of confidence on Monday.


The new parliament is led by a conservative government that has vowed to make boosting sluggish growth a priority, powered by tax cuts and accompanied by privatization deals. The government has also pledged to create jobs and get rid of obstacles to business. Starting in 2020, Mitsotakis has promised to cut a hated property tax called ENFIA - brought in by a previous New Democracy-led government during the economic crisis - by 30 per cent over two years. He has also offered to reduce income tax thresholds and to gradually cut tax on business profits by eight percent.


But just hours after his Jul 7 victory, Eurozone finance ministers warned the new government to stick to the country's strict public spending commitments. "We must keep our commitments, this is the only way I know to gain credibility," said Eurogroup chief Mario Centeno. On July 16, 2019, the Eurozone’s bailout fund director and a key EU official overseeing Greece's debt repayments, Klaus Regling, suggested that tax cuts be coupled "with a broader tax base."


In a meeting with Regling later on Tuesday, Mitsotakis "confirmed that Greece would respect fiscal targets," the prime minister's office said. During the election campaign, Mitsotakis said he would persuade Greece's creditors to accept the easing of targets with "a comprehensive reforms package".


The current framework negotiated with creditors by the previous leftist Syriza government holds Greece to a primary budget surplus of 3.5 per cent to 2022 - but the conservatives say that target stifles growth.


Mitsotakis has also made tighter border patrols a top priority. The new junior minister for migration, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, this week said the government would speed up asylum background checks and pursue a "robust" programme of migrant returns to their home nations.





PHOTO: National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia. Speaker of Armenia’s Parliament Ararat Mirzoyan (center) met with Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (right) on July 17, 2019.


During his visit to Washington to take part in the Leadership Forum of House Democracy Partnership (HDP), the Speaker of Armenia’s National Assembly Ararat Mirzoyan met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Capitol Hill, and discussed advancing relations between Armenia and United States.


During his meeting with Pelosi on Wednesday, Mirzoyan briefed the Speaker of House on the recent developments in Armenia and thanked the congresswoman for her continues support of Armenian issues, as well as her contributions in advancing US-Armenia relations. Speaker Pelosi praised the democratic reforms in Armenia and highlighted the changes ushered in after the popular movement last year.


Earlier on Tuesday, Speaker Mirzoyan met with Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with whom he discussed the current political developments in Armenia, underscoring the importance of support to Armenia by the United States. The two sides discussed opportunities in crease financial support being provided to Armenia by the United States, foreign policy issues and regional stability and energy security, among other issues.


Speaker Mirzoyan told Senate Majority Leader McConnell of the importance of joint programs between the Armenian parliament and organizations such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), which are aimed at developing the capabilities of legislatures and promoting a reform agenda. They also discussed practical steps to advance Armenia-US relations.


Ahead of the Congressional meeting on Tuesday, Speaker Mirzoyan delivered a speech at the HDP Leadership Forum entitled “The Role of the Legislatures: the Importance of the Independence of the Legislatures in the Context of Preventing the Authoritarianism Danger,” which touched on the Velvet revolution and the reform agenda of the Armenian government.






PHOTO: Tasnim News Agency/Foad Ashtari. Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani highlighted efforts made to reduce economic pressures against the country and said necessary arrangements have been made to counter the economic war waged against the Islamic Republic.


Addressing a joint meeting of the Parliament and Administration in Tehran on July 17, 2019, Speaker Larijani pointed to the strategies to support domestic production and said, “The country’s current situation is completely different to previous years and Leader of the Islamic Revolution; [Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei], considering the situation, has ordered the formation of the economic council of the heads of three branches of the government.”


“In the current situation, the fundamental issue is to provide working capital for factories and industries in order to strengthen the industrial sector,” he added. “Today, the country is in a state of economic war, however, necessary measures have been taken in this regard at the macro-management level,” Speaker Larijani said. The parliament speaker also emphasized that efforts should be made to counter the economic war at lower levels.


The remarks come against the backdrop of increased tensions between Iran and the US with Washington imposing new sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The US has ratcheted up pressure on Iran since last year after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Since then, the US President Donald Trump has been trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports.


Earlier on Sunday, the Majlis representatives reviewed a number of moves in the closed session to help the country overcome the economic issues in order to improve the Iranian people’s living conditions.


BY MSEAP Cyber Secretariat (