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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-09-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Napolitano on Cyprus, Turkey
  • [02] Romanian PM meets OTE, DT reps
  • [03] BoG to banks: Cut bad loans

  • [01] Napolitano on Cyprus, Turkey

    Solving the Cyprus problem was a precondition for continuing accession negotiations between the European Union and Turkey, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said in Athens on Tuesday. He made the statement after talks with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    "We agreed that we must ensure the continuance of the negotiations process for Turkey's accession to the EU. Of course, a precondition for continuing these negotiations is a solution to the Cyprus problem, a thorny problem that has for years now troubled Greece and the EU," Napolitano said.

    The Italian president is in Athens on an official visit, during which he will have a series of meetings with Greece's state and political leadership. In addition to his meeting with Papoulias, Napolitano earlier met main opposition PASOK president George Papandreou and is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis over a working lunch on Wednesday.

    In joint statements after their meeting, the Greek president said that their talks had focused on the importance of constantly upgrading Greek-Italian relations on all levels.

    Papoulias also thanked Napolitano for returning the "Palermo Fragment" - a piece of marble taken from the ruins of the Parthenon - and said that Greece was trying to ensure the return of all the Parthenon fragments abroad, including the sculptures at the British Museum in London.

    "You can appreciate the symbolism and importance of such a gesture," Papoulias underlined, adding that it would help boost cultural and educational ties between Greece and Italy even more.

    "In this framework, we hope to soon operate a Greek Archaeological School in Rome," he added.

    Papoulias said they had discussed regional issues, during which he had stressed the Cyprus problem and the fact "that it is unacceptable for a European capital, Nicosia, to continue to be divided by a wall." The Greek president also underlined that all countries wishing to join Euro-Atlantic structures should respect international law and observe good neighbour relations.

    The talks between the two presidents additionally touched on the situation in the Balkans, the European perspective of Western Balkans and the ratification of the Lisbon Reform Treaty.

    Napolitano said his visit had confirmed the very satisfactory level of relations with Greece and the prospects for improving these yet further through initiatives planned during his visit, while emphasising the importance of the energy collaboration between the two countries.

    The Italian president noted the general agreement of Greek and Italian positions on political and regional issues also, such as continuing the process of European unification and the need to ratify the Lisbon Treaty before the next Euro-Parliament elections.

    Napolitano said that ratification of the Treaty was vital in order to allow further EU enlargement, while both Greece and Italy were in favour of an enlargement that would take in the Western Balkans.

    Referring to the crisis in the Georgia, meanwhile, the Italian president said the Greek and Italian viewpoint at the EU was unanimous.

    "In this instance, the European Council succeeded in expressing a balanced common stance in an adequate and effective way. I assure you that the commitments and the efforts of both Italy and Greece will multiply so that the EU will be in a position from here on to express itself with a common voice in the framework of international affairs," he added.

    Caption: President of Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano inspects an Evzones honor guard before entering the presidential mansion in Athens on Tuesday, 23 September 2008. ANA-MPA /SYMELA PANTZARTZI.

    [02] Romanian PM meets OTE, DT reps

    Romanian Prime Minister Colin Popescu-Tariceanu on Tuesday met with representatives of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (ΟΕ and Deutsche Telekom to discuss developments in the wake of a strategic partnership agreement signed between the two telecoms groups in May.

    OTE chairman and chief executive Panagis Vourloumis and Rene Obermann, chairman of DT, represented the two groups.

    Hellenic Telecoms owns 54.1 pct of Romania's Romtelecom with the remaining owned by the Romanian state.

    Tariceanu said foreign investments in Romania have contributed to growth and the deregulation of telecoms sector in the country, while the two foreign groups noted that the Romanian government has encouraged them to proceed with new investments.

    Caption: A file photo dated 22 April, 2008 shows Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu. ANA-MPA/ EPA/YOAN VALAT

    [03] BoG to banks: Cut bad loans

    Greek commercial banks should drastically contain their non-performing loans, Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos stressed on Tuesday.

    Addressing a conference in Athens focusing on the Greek banking sector, organised by Financial Times, Provopoulos stressed that the central bank would force all commercial banks to comply with this policy, while he warned that banks would be obliged to move on with equity capital increases if they failed to do so.

    Commenting on the impact of an international credit crisis on the domestic banking system, Provopoulos sounded optimistic, saying "it remains basically stable and its fundamentals are satisfactory".

    The Greek central banker added that banks' liquidity were at satisfactory levels, although the cost of raising new capital to finance credit expansion has risen.

    Provopoulos said Greece has suffered less compared with other countries from an international credit crisis so far, attributing this development to the minimal exposure of domestic banks to "toxic" investments. He said the crisis was the most difficult of the last decades, with shrinking growth and accelerating inflation.

    Provopoulos urged for the coordination not only of central banks but of all supervisory agencies to overcome the ongoing international credit crisis. He noted that state interventions so far have helped to "avoid the worse".

    Caption: Bank of Greece Gov. George Provopoulos speaks at an Athens conference on banking, on Tuesday, 23 Sept., 2008. ANA-MPA / PANTELIS SAITAS

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