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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-01-21

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Inner Cabinet focuses on economy
  • [02] PASOK meeting on public order issues
  • [03] NBG: Credit expansion up 18%
  • [04] Athens details OSCE aims to Moscow

  • [01] Inner Cabinet focuses on economy

    The course of the economy and the ongoing global financial crisis dominated discussions at the Inner Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The latter also referred to mobilisations by various farmers' groups around country, urging the immediate settlement of their problems. Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou, who had a separate meeting with the prime minister earlier, underlined that 2009 will be a difficult year but more positive developments are likely, probably coming by the end of the year. As regards the Greek economy, Papathanassiou underlined that it has a positive growth rate, adding that the deficit will be smaller than the Eurozone average and pointing out that the public debt is a long-standing "major thorn". He also stressed, in pointing to the opposition, that those who engage in "danger mongering" and make extravagant promises will soon lose any shred of credibility they might have. Meanwhile, asked to respond to an administrative first instance court ruling on private college-issued diplomas, Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos termed it as unprecedented, pointing out that there is still a long way to go before becoming irrevocable.

    [02] PASOK meeting on public order issues

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday chaired a party meeting on public order and security issues, following his visit to a Police Emergency Services unit and the Kypseli police station on Tuesday night.

    Afterwards, the party spokesman George Papaconstantinou denied rumours that a police officer had been found drunk on duty during the visit but confirmed that the Athens Security Sub-directorate had been closed, adding that this was a serious issue. He stressed that PASOK had said nothing concerning the state or functioning of any specific officers.

    During the meeting, Papandreou referred to a "generalised sense of insecurity" felt by Greeks as a result of the current government's policies.

    "In a democratic state there are no dilemmas between security and rights," he noted, and called for immediate intervention that would restore the respect, meritocracy and professionalism of the Greek police force, thus restoring the public's confidence in the police.

    Papandreou's visit to the Kypseli police station, which is housed in the same building as the Athens security sub-directorate, formed part of a more general policy of highlighting issues concerning day-to-day problems faced by the public.

    [03] NBG: Credit expansion up 18%

    The National Bank of Greece's (NBG) credit expansion continued unhindered during the last quarter of 2008, with Greek market portfolios recording positive growth rates, according to an announcement, in view of the bank's extraordinary shareholders general assembly on Jan. 22 to decide on a proposed share capital increase. Loans approved by NBG and its subsidiaries at the end of 2008 reached 66.4 billion euros, up by 18 percent compared to 2007. The credit expansion rate in Greece was also described as "very dynamic" (+19 percent compared to 2007) with the business sector at the top (+29 percent) and retail loans showing a +14 percent increase, on an annual basis. Based on NBG figures, credit expansion reached 4 percent, corresponding to a 2-billion-euro increase in the last quarter of 2008. In addition, home loans did not record a decline compared to the previous quarter, despite an overall decrease in applications. New home loans totalled 800 million euros, corresponding to 1/3 of all new housing loans in the country.

    [04] Athens details OSCE aims to Moscow

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday extracted Moscow's pledge to support the priorities set by the Greek OSCE presidency in 2009, including plans to promote peace in the Caucasus and Moscow's assistance in drawing up a new map for European security, during a meeting with Russian FM Sergey Lavrov in the Russian capital.

    Bakoyannis arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, during her first official trip abroad since Greece assumed the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) presidency. In statements afterward, Lavrov expressed a hope that the Greek OSCE presidency would also help strengthen the two countries' bilateral ties, leading to a strategic partnership.

    The greater part of the meeting between the two ministers was devoted to Athens' proposal for finding a compromise solution that will allow OSCE observers to remain in Georgia and breakaway South Ossetia. Neither side revealed the contents of a Greek proposal during a later joint press conference, however, with Lavrov refusing to answer questions regarding the possibility of separate missions to South Ossetia's provincial capital of Tskhinvali and to Tbilisi - something that the Georgian government objects to.

    Bakoyannis stressed, on her part, that Greece does not intend to cross the "red lines" of either side, while Lavrov described the Greek proposal as "realistic" and one that took into account both the 'de facto' and 'de jure' aspects of the situation.

    The Greek minister also underlined the difficulty of the undertaking:

    "All 56 countries of the OSCE must agree; countries with different approaches but with common values and principles. We must deal jointly with existing problems, such as the presence of the OSCE in Georgia and South Ossetia," she said.

    Lavrov praised the Greek side's successful bid to broker the flow of natural gas from Tbilisi to South Ossetia, stressing that this was a major humanitarian success for Greece, given that it was now mid-winter.

    He further expressed his gratitude to Bakoyannis for adopting a proposal by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for dialogue on redesigning the security structure of Europe.

    "The common aim is to ensure that the security of each side is not at the expense of some other side," he underlined, adding that the OSCE possessed mechanisms for political and military cooperation that could be used to promote dialogue toward this end.

    Bakoyannis and Lavrov continued their talks over lunch, during which they were expected to tackle issues of bilateral interest, such as cooperation in the energy, tourism and trade sectors.

    The Greek minister is scheduled to depart for Brussels on Wednesday afternoon in order to attend a dinner for EU foreign ministers, in which Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has also been invited to attend, in order to discuss ways to shore up the fragile truce in Gaza.

    Caption: Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis (L) with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009. ANA-MPA / ANTONIS DOUKAS.


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