Interest in investing in Greece is clearly greater than in the recent past, and the message has reached the USA, as well, that this country has begun to play a leading role in Southeastern Europe, Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said in Washington on Thursday. He told a press conference that this is his conclusion from all meetings he has held with various officials in the USA. Investors’ interest in Greece was also confirmed in practice at the event organized by the «Invest in Greece» agency, with the participation of US company representatives who expressed their desire to become active in Greece. Alogoskoufis added that international financial organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have begun to recognize the significant progress that the Greek economy has achieved. One of the Greek minister’s meetings was with the IMF’s managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who once again acknowledged the improvement in Greek finances. Asked about the possibility of a revision in the budget’s fundamentals due to the impact of the rise in oil prices, Alogoskoufis stressed there was no such scenario, as the possibility of a deterioration in global conditions has also been taken into account; neither does the European Commission expect to revise its estimates for European fundamentals. Speaking about the rise in retail prices and inflation, the economy minister said that the increase in competition and the strengthening of the Competition Commission will counter inflationary pressures for the time being. He made it clear that the government’s reforms program is not affected at all by the present problems, such as inflation, as it has planned its moves on a long-term basis. He commented on the impact of the international credit crisis on the Greek banking system, saying that there have been no primary negative consequences on banks because they have not been exposed to risks that would cause worries in the way that major international financial groups have. Alogoskoufis also expressed his optimism that the worst can be avoided and the situation will revert to normal in the course of 2009, which will also assist the Greek economy.