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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-12-17

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Finmin: 20% of OTE to strategic ally
  • [02] Greece reacts to Blair statements in Turkey
  • [03] Greece promotes prisoner repatriation proposal

  • [01] Finmin: 20% of OTE to strategic ally

    The government intends to sell about 20% of its shares in Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) to a "strategic partner or ally", Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said in an interview issued on Sunday by the Greek newspaper "Vima".

    Management of the telecom company would be shared by the buyer and the public sector, while the framework of this collaboration would have to be compatible with European Union regulations, he added.

    Alogoskoufis said that the plan to further privatise OTE was a strategic one for the government but would be aborted if the appropriate ally could not be found. In this case, however, the government might opt for further securitisation of OTE stock, he added.

    According to the timeframe set by the government, the process will be completed by the middle of next year, so that the "strategic partner" might be chosen.

    Asked why the government had abandoned plans to privatise state-controlled companies operating at a loss, Alogoskoufis pointed out that this was impossible because no one was willing to buy losses.

    "There is nothing in our programme about privatising loss-making companies. For these companies the first priority is their reform, before you can think about any kind of privatisation," he stressed.

    Regarding the situation at Greek ports and the problems caused by an overtime boycott begun by dock workers protesting against the privatisation of selected port services, the finance minister noted that this was an initiative exclusively handled by the merchant marine ministry, not his own, while noting that there was not disagreement between the two ministries on this issue.

    [02] Greece reacts to Blair statements in Turkey

    European Union leaders took a joint decision regarding Turkey that was binding for all EU member-states, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stressed in response to statements made by British Prime Minister Tony Blair concerning EU accession negotiations.

    Reacting to Blair's call on Saturday for the immediate opening of new chapters in the accession talks in Turkey, Bakoyannis underlined that the EU's message to Turkey was clear and united.

    Blair made statements that had the significance of political statements, but the essence lay in the decision of the EU General Affairs Council, she added.

    During a press conference held in Ankara, the British prime minister called on Ankara to open its ports and airports to ships and planes from Cyprus but also urged the EU to "end the isolation of northern Cyprus".

    He also said that Britain wanted and was now looking into the possibility of carrying out direct flights to the occupied territories in northern Cyprus, if this was allowed by international air navigation rules.

    Blair underlined the need for a swift resolution of the Cyprus issue by the United Nations, urging the new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to begin a new mediating process when he takes over his duties on January 1.

    [03] Greece promotes prisoner repatriation proposal

    Greek Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras held talks with his German counterpart Brigitte Zypries in Berlin to discuss a Greek initiative for facilitating the transfer of foreign prisoners to their country of origin, to serve their sentence in prisons in their own country, a Greek justice ministry announcement said on Sunday.

    According to the announcement, Papaligouras has begun an international initiative for the repatriation of prisoners on chiefly humanitarian grounds, so that they are in contact with a familiar environment and family members. Moving prisoners to their own countries improves conditions of incarceration and communication, while it also facilitates vocational skills training and social rehabilitation after their release, the ministry said.

    The meeting with Zypries was held in view of Germany taking over the rotating EU presidency at the start of 2007 and a discussion to begin in February at the Council of Europe on the Greek minister's proposal.

    The German justice minister gave an initial assurance of support for the Greek proposal during Germany's six-month EU presidency, while Papaligouras underlined that it was important for the EU to adopt a uniform position of this issue, given that it will represent 27 of the 46 CoE member-states.

    Adoption of the Greek proposal by the CoE will greatly relieve overcrowding in Greek prisons, where 40% of the inmates are foreigners, of which 90% are nationals of CoE member-states.


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