Athens, June 22, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
Two Greek journalists participated in IMF scholarship programs, as indicated in the reply letter of the Director of the IMF Department of Communication Jerry Rice to Deputy Secretary of State to the Prime Minister Terence Kouik, which the latter made public.
The Undersecretary of State in a statement thanked the Director of the Department of Communication at the IMF Jerry Rice, for giving a direct reply to his letter on the familiar issue that arose with Roumeliotis’ statement in the House.
“With a careful reading of the contents, it can be concluded that the letter of reply has very interesting points. In the translation I’ve done, I have placed emphasis in certain points, but conclusions are best be drawn based on individual judgment”, Kouik says.
However, he adds “it is admitted that two Greek journalists attended the scholarship program of the IMF, a fact none of us was aware of”.
Kouik says he expects the ESIEA (Journalists’ Union of Athens daily newspapers) or IMNCP (Panhellenic Editors Association) or any other body to indicate whether there was a call from the IMF for these “scholarship” trips, with open participation to all journalists or in the end SELECTION (pp: the capital is Kouik’s) was made with other procedures.
As regards the non-disclosure of the names of the two journalists, Mr. Kouik said that in his view, there is no reason for secrecy and urged the two journalists to give their name themselves, to put an end to the slander.
“If they do not, I will have to ask the IMF again. And if the IMF refuses to help, then it implicates a process which the Fund itself presents as a positive initiative”, Kouik concluded.
Below is the letter from Rice:
Dear Deputy Minister:
Thank you for your letter dated June 18. In response to your immediate question, I can tell you that the IMF has never held any seminars for Greek journalists. At the same time, I would like to take this opportunity to address your broader query:
Since 2006, the IMF has sponsored a fellowship program that offers small groups of journalists, mostly from low- and middle-income countries and emerging market economies, the opportunity to attend the IMF and World Bank Spring and Annual Meetings.
The program provides an opportunity for journalists—who typically would be unable to travel to these Meetings—to cover these important economic discussions and meet the world’s leading economic and financial policymakers.
On occasion, the program has been expanded to include participants from higher-income countries that may be facing financial difficulties or have an IMF-supported program.
Since 2006, around 300 journalists from over 90 countries have been invited to the Spring and Annual Meetings in this way and, over that nearly ten-year period, there have been only two journalists from Greece. Fellowship participants have exactly the same status as any other member of the press covering the meetings—the same access and restrictions, and work in the same media center.
I hope this information is helpful.