In a published interview in the Sunday edition of the Athens daily "Eleftheros Typos", Alogoskoufis, among others, noted that National Bank's intended purchase of Istanbul-based Finansbank is compatible with the government's policy for a further expansion of Greek banks in the Balkans and SE Europe. In fact, he added that he has confidence in National Bank's management.
In touching on criticism, especially by several main opposition PASOK party deputies, over the prospect that foreign interests will gain even more control of whatever Greek companies, Alogoskoufis pointedly said that a mindset pointing to a perpetually "small Greece" must be avoided. "Our future lies in playing our role in the wider southeast Europe region ... We need to fulfill our role, as did all the countries that opened their economies. Ireland, for instance, based its economic miracle on foreign investments. No one, however, spoke of a 'de-Irelandisation' of the Irish economy. Here, though, we're constantly referring to a loss of Greek ownership".
Along those lines, he said the government will judge every bid for Emporiki Bank based on the percentage of cash in any offer or the equivalent of cash, "namely, what the shares are worth if sold at the specific moment (of the transaction) and not the price listed on the stock market at the time".
In other comments, Alogoskoufis said the high-profile reforms foreseen in a recently unveiled draft bill for higher education are both significant and mild. "Restructuring is necessary so we're not throwing away money. First, (universities') operation must improve and then we can see about funding issues. If we attempt to solve the funding problem and ignore substantive reforms then all we'll have done is make a hole in the water," he added.
Asked about tax breaks, another pre-election promise by ruling New Democracy, Alogoskoufis said the government's fiscal policy will be more flexible next year, "and with an emphasis on those with the greatest need".
Finally, in reference to a recent prediction by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) regarding early elections in the country in 2007, the economy minister echoed other top government officials in saying that talk of elections was premature.
"Our plan is to exhaust the four-year term, and I don't see any reason to hold elections earlier," he said.
A moratorium in the Aegean regarding the prohibition of military exercises went into effect on Saturday and will last until Sept. 15.
ANA-MPA file photo.
Several noted Turkish academics and researchers also took part in the conference, whereas its sessions also generated coverage by Turkish media.
Of particular interest was a study unveiled by Prof. Vyron Kotzamanis, who noted that the ethnic Greek population of Istanbul is now above the 5,000-person mark widely quoted up until today.
Meanwhile, a concert held at the end of the sessions on Sunday was attended by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, Greece's ambassador to Turkey George Gennimatas and the consul general in Istanbul, Alexis Alexandris.
Organisers estimated that more than 2,500 people attended the conference's sessions.
ANA-MPA photo of Theodoros Kassimis.