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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-12-04

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karamanlis, Egypt's Mubarak discuss Balkans, Middle East
  • [02] Turkish FM Babacan in Athens
  • [03] BoG: Limited impact on local banks from int'l crisis

  • [01] Karamanlis, Egypt's Mubarak discuss Balkans, Middle East

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday met with visiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Athens, as talks that focused on bilateral relations but also developments in the Balkans and the Middle East.

    In statements afterward, the Greek prime minister stressed Egypt's important role in the Middle East peace process, adding that Greece was a "fellow traveller" in this effort.

    "Greece has shown great interest in the events of the region, with initiatives that are both international and in the framework of the EU. We support Mr. Mubarak's efforts for a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian issue. In his spirit, Greece and Egypt took part in the international conference at Annapolis, which constituted progress for a resumption of talks between Israel and Palestine, which must be led to a comprehensive solution of the Middle East problem," he said.

    Greece, its European Union partners and its allies in NATO supported this effort, Karamanlis added.

    The Greek premier also highlighted Egypt's important role in the framework of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and said his talks with Mubarak had also touched on the Cyprus issue, Greece's relations with Turkey and events in the Balkans. These issues would be discussed further during a dinner with Mubarak that would take place later on Tuesday, he added.

    In terms of bilateral relations, Karamanlis pointed out that Egypt was one of Greece's most important trade partners among the Arab countries and referred to strong historic ties between the two countries.

    According to the premier, in his talks with the Egyptian president they had determined that there was "significant room for improving and developing our cooperation on several levels, such as the energy sector and shipping".

    The Egyptian president, on his part, thanked Karamanlis for a warm reception and stressed the rapid progress in bilateral relations between their two countries since 2004, when the Greek premier visited Egypt. He also stressed the need to further cement bilateral economic and trade ties, as well as on a political level and in the Balkans.

    Referring to a series of existing agreements for taxes, tariffs and financial facilities, Mubarak said these had yielded high growth rates and that his talks in Athens had also covered issues that included shipping links, tourism, cultural investments and labour issues.

    He praised Greece's efforts to help bring about peace in the Middle East and said his talks in Athens would bring tangible results for improving relations between the two countries.

    Caption: Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (R) with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak prior to a joint press conference in Athens on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2007. ANA-MPA / M. MAROGIANNI

    [02] Turkish FM Babacan in Athens

    Excellent bilateral relations and volition of both sides for further cooperation was reaffirmed here on Tuesday during a meeting between Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis her Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan, as the latter arrived in the Greek capital for an official visit.

    Bakoyannis reiterated that reaching a fair, viable and operational solution to the Cyprus problem -- based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation -- is of heightened importance, while she stressed that opportunities offered by Turkey's EU prospects should be utilised.

    "Full membership can and should be achieved by fully meeting the prerequisites set by the EU," Bakoyannis said, adding that Greece firmly supports Turkey's European prospects.

    "It is our deliberate choice for a secure peace, unwavering stability, economic development and stronger democracy", she stressed, adding that, at the same time, efforts for the further development of bilateral relations continue.

    The Greek foreign minister pointed out that the path of mutual interest should be characterised by respect to international law, good-neighborly relations as well as adoption of the principles and values implemented by modern Europe.

    On his part, the Turkish foreign minister stated that his country will make all efforts to solve the Cyprus problem within the framework of the UN decisions, while thanked Athens for supporting Ankara's European course.

    Babacan emphasised the strengthening of bilateral energy and economic relations. In reference to Turkey's accession course, he pointed out that the EU comprises a set of values shared by its member-states. He stressed that an "open door" policy signals the EU's peacemaking policy and concluded by saying that setting limitations to the Union's enlargement would be a major mistake on the part of Europe.

    The two ministers also announced a package of new confidence-building-measures that include exchange of visits by military leaders, establishment of a joint operational military unit involving all branches to participate in NATO peacekeeping missions, as well as the creation of a joint land force unit within the framework of NATO's rapid reaction force. Other CBMs include the establishment of a joint all-branch military unit to manage natural disasters and offer humanitarian aid as well visits by unit commanders at the Greek-Turkish border.

    Finally, Babacan laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and was received by Greek President Karolos Papoulias following his visit to the ministry of foreign affairs.

    Caption: Greek FM Dora Bakoyannis (R) greets her Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan in Athens on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2007. ANA-MPA / SIMELA PANTZARTZI

    [03] BoG: Limited impact on local banks from int'l crisis

    Turbulence in the global economy from a subprime loan crisis will have only a limited and indirect impact on Greek banks, Bank of Greece (BoG) Governor Nikos Garganas said on Tuesday.

    Addressing a Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce conference on the theme "The Time of Greek Economy", the Greek central banker noted, however, that risks still existed for Greek banks and urged for cautious management of portfolios.

    Garganas said turbulence from the subprime home loan crisis in the United States has not affected Eurozone banks, which continued to rapidly increase activities in loans to private borrowers and businesses, something that has ceased in the United States.

    Garganas also referred to the need for strengthening the role of supervisory authorities, particularly in cases of banks with cross-border activities.

    Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis, addressing the same conference, underlined that more rapid steps are needed rid the Greek economy from its state-based growth and to adopt a more viable model based on exports, private investments, entrepreneurship and innovation.

    The minister said this goal could be achieved with modern infrastructure so that the country becomes more attractive for investments, and healthy competition in the domestic markets.

    Hatzidakis said the transport ministry focused on the creation of new transport and distribution hubs, promoting combined transports and expanding railway services. He noted that the telecoms sector and new technologies, in general, remained the biggest challenge for the country and said that a state-sponsored digital strategy was significant.

    Finally, Hatzidakis said the goal is to achieve a truly deregulated market, operating under national and community regulations.

    Caption: File photo of Bank of Greece Gov. Nikos Garganas. ANA-MPA / M. MORAGIANNI


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