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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-10

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PASOK calls for EU initiatives on crisis
  • [02] FinMin in Washington
  • [03] Gov't on visa waiver program

  • [01] PASOK calls for EU initiatives on crisis

    The main opposition PASOK party called on Friday for "coordinated initiatives" on the part of the European Union for the handling of the crisis in international financial markets.

    "Coordinated initiatives on a European Union level are needed for the handling of the crisis in international financial markets," party spokesman George Papaconstantinou told reporters at his daily briefing, expressing hope that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis would arrive at the Union's special summit next week "with concrete proposals that will be governed by a new concept regarding the Stability Pact and the role of the European Central Bank (ECB)."

    The PASOK spokesman also said his party would "on its part continue to adopt a responsible stance".

    Meanwhile, PASOK on Thursday said that it would not back the government's draft bill to protect loan holders in its present form and would table seven proposed amendments to provide more substantial protection to borrowers.

    PASOK spokeswoman for economic issues Louka Katseli dismissed the draft bill as a "ruse" and said it did not provide substantial protection to borrowers that were losing their homes, having to deal with compound interest and other unfair and abusive practices used by banks.

    The seven amendments proposed by PASOK would seek to address the draft bill's shortcomings in terms of foreclosures, auctions of foreclosed properties, protection against unjustified charges on loans and credit cards, the size of debts, penalty interest rates and the abusive practices used by the debt collection firms employed by banks.

    She particularly criticised the draft bill for failing to change the procedure used in foreclosures, saying this would render ineffective the measure of increasing the minimum debt allowing such foreclosures to 20,000 euros.

    Specifically, PASOK proposes an outright ban on foreclosures of a household's main residence, wants to allow debtors to seek the stalling of a foreclosure up to five days before the property is auctioned, seeks to extend the definition of main residence to the home occupied by the spouse and dependents of the debtor and extend protection from foreclosure of a main residence to loan guarantors.

    The party also wants to extend current measures protecting farmers against compound and penalty interest rates - which sets an upper ceiling on their total debt to double the amount they originally borrowed - to also cover those taking out consumer loans, credit card loans and mortgages for their first home. Finally, PASOK wants to scrap compound interest on all housing and consumer loans, as well as credit cards.

    [02] FinMin in Washington

    Greek Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis was expected in Washington Friday, heading up a Greek delegation to attend the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

    During his stay in the US capital, Alogoskoufis is scheduled to meet with IMF and World Bank officials as well as senior executives of international financial institutions.

    On Saturday and Sunday, he will attend IMF proceedings and on Monday he will be amongst the speakers to address the organisationās plenary session. A formal reception hosted by Greek ambassador to Washington, Alexandros Mallias, in honor of the Greek delegation is also scheduled to take place.

    Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Yannis Papathanasiou, Bank of Greece Gov. George Provopoulos, senior government officials and bank executives will comprise the Greek mission.

    [03] Gov't on visa waiver program

    The Bush administration's failure to include Greece in the US visa waiver program at this stage is "unjustified," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos underlined on Friday. "The US administration's decision not to include Greece, at this stage, into the visa waiver program for Greek citizens wishing to visit the United States, either for tourism, professional reasons or, above all, to visit their relatives -- members of the large Greek-American community in the United States -- is unjustified," Koumoutsakos' full statement read.

    In a statement later in the afternoon, the public affairs officer at the US embassy in Athens, Tom Miller, stressed that "the US and Greece have worked closely together on VWP, and we have made substantial progress. The United States is committed to working through the remaining issues with the goal of Greece's future entrance into the Visa Waiver Program and will do so once all of the documents meet the requirements of both governments."

    On his part, Koumoutsakos, speaking at a regular press briefing in the morning, noted that the development "does not promote the enhancement of contacts between the two friendly peoples and better mutual understanding, which Greece desires."

    Finally, he expressed Athens' hope that this is not a final decision on the part of the US administration.

    According to an ANA-MPA dispatch from Washington, when asked about the issue on Thursday, a US State Department spokesman merely noted that "... obviously, the Visa Waiver Program is a topic of discussion with a number of countries, including good friends in Europe and around the world.

    "...The only thing that I could say at this point generally about the Visa Waiver Program is that we continue to have good discussions with a number of our friends around the world about the Visa Waiver Program."

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos.

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