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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-01-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM briefed by parliament president
  • [02] FM spokesman on FYROM provocations, name talks
  • [03] Govt fines 17 banks with 10.2 million euros
  • [04] FM spokesman on Greek aid to Gaza
  • [05] FM to visit W.Balkans
  • [06] BoG warns of credit risks
  • [07] ASE : Big rise

  • [01] PM briefed by parliament president

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met on Wednesday with parliament president Dimitris Sioufas, who briefed the premier on progress in the House's legislative work and on its international activities in the framework of Parliamentary Diplomacy.

    Speaking to reporters afterwards, Sioufas said he also briefed the premier on a series of matters related to parliament's more efficient operation.

    The two men further exchanged views on the global financial crisis and on the recent off-the-agenda discussion in parliament, at political party leaders' level, on the dialogue on the education sector.

    Earlier, Karamanlis had a meeting with visiting Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari, which was also attended by Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis

    [02] FM spokesman on FYROM provocations, name talks

    Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said on Wednesday that since last summer and with a frequency of about every two weeks, Skopje was engaging in statements and actions of a similar content, in reply to a press question on FYROM's recently announced intention of renaming of the pan-European "Corridor X" road axis.

    He was referring to Skopje's planned renaming as "Alexander of Macedon" the country's main highway that runs from Serbia in the north to the Greek border on the south as part of the pan-European Corridor X (or Corridor 10, of a total length of 27.75 kilometers in FYROM), which was recently announced by FYROM prime minister Nikola Gruevski.

    "The recent decisions (by FYROM) lack seriousness, without this meaning that they are less provocative or less in violation of the provisions of the Interim Agreement," Koumoutsakis added, and noted the "international annoyance" that FYROM's stance has caused.

    Greece recently warned FYROM that so long as the neighboring country's leadership continued to cultivate an atmosphere of provocations, nationalism and intolerance, not a single euro would be forthcoming from Greece in the framework of its participation in the financing of the construction of the pan-European "Corridor X" road axis, "the renaming of which the neighboring country provocatively proceeded to", as prime minister Costas Karamanlis stated in mid-January. The premier, speaking during the Hour of the Prime Minister in parliament, was referring to Skopje's renaming as "Alexander of Macedon" the country's main highway that runs from Serbia in the north to the Greek border on the south as part of the pan-European Corridor X (or Corridor 10, of a total length of 27.75 kilometers in FYROM), for which 152 million euros have been earmarked in the Hellenic Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans (HiPERB).

    To a question on the upcoming round of UN-brokered talks between the Greek and FYROM negotiators in New York on February 11, Ambassadors Adamantios Vassilakis and Zoran Jolevski respectively, Koumoutsakos noted that "the facts thus far and the atmosphere created by the provocative actions and statements by the Gruevski government...lead to the estimation that there will be 'nothing of note' at this meeting"

    [03] Govt fines 17 banks with 10.2 million euros

    The Greek govenment on Wednesday announced fines totaling 10,200,000 euros against 17 banks operating in the country for overcharging consumers in various bank transactions.

    Development Deputy Ministery George Vlahos said the fines were imposed after an inspection on several basic banking products and services offered by 17 commercial banks.

    Alpha Bank, Aspis Bank, Citibank, Eurobank, Marfin Egnatia Bank, Millennium Bank, Proton Bank, ATEbank, Geniki Bank, National Bank, Hellenic Bank, Emporiki Bank, Panhellenic Bank, Hellenic Postbank, Attica Bank, Cyprus Bank and Piraeus Bank will have to pay 600,000 in fines each.

    [04] FM spokesman on Greek aid to Gaza

    The major bulk of Greek humanitarian aid that has been dispatched to date to Gaza via international organizations active on the spot has alrady reached its destination, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said on Wednesday, in reply to questions during a regular press briefing.

    Koumoutsakos added that Athens' proposal to host children from Gaza who required medical care was still pending, and clarified that this was due to the problem in normalization of the flow of movement through the crossings into and out of Gaza, which was "a problem that was discussed at the recent EU Council of Ministers" meeting.

    In a later, more detailed statement on the humanitarian aid shipments, Koumoutsakos clarified that the Greek humanitarian aid dispatched to Gaza by air has reached its destination through the international organizations active there, namely the World Health Organization (WHO).

    The aid that has been dispatched by sea (food and medicine) reached port Ahsdodo in Israel on Wednesday, and was currently going through Customs clearance, after which it would be conveyed to Gaza again via the international organizations active there.

    [05] FM to visit W.Balkans

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, as Chairperson of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), will embark on Tuesday, February 2, on a series of visits over the next two weeks to the Western Balkan countries, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos announced on Wednesday.

    On Tuesday, Bakoyannis will visit Belgrade, where she will have meetings with the Yugslav leadership, followed the following day by a visit to Pristina, where the largest of the OSCE's 19 missions is headquartered and where she will hold talks with representatives of international organizations headquartered there.

    The following week, on February 9, Bakoyannis is scheduled to visit Tirana, while on February 11 she will go to Tiflis, for talks with governmenet officials in both countries.

    In between, on February 4, Bakoyannis will inaugurate an international conference on the theme "Profiles of states in an internationalized environment - Possibilities and prospects for Greece" that is being organised in Athens by the Greek Politics Specialist Group under the aegis of the foreign ministry.

    Later that same day, Bakoyannis will meet with Rabbi Andrew Baker, the OSCE's Personal Representative for Combating Anti-Semitism.

    Koumoutsakos also announced that deputy foreign minister Yiannis Valyankis will be representing Greece ath the informal meeting of the Balkan Cooperation foreign ministers to be held on Friday in Moldova.

    Further, Koumoutsakos said that deputy foreign minister Miltiades Varvitsiotis will go to Prague on Thursday for an informal meeting of the EU's Council of Developmental Cooperation ministers.

    He also said that Varvitsiotis met on Wednesday with visiting Metropolitan Amvrosios of Korea, and later with visiting Iranian deputy foreign minister for European Affairs Mehdi Safari.

    Bakoyannis was also due to have separate meetings on Wednesday with Safari and with the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims, Ambassador Vyacheslav Gizzatov.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis leaving from the Maximos mansion (government's headquarters)

    [06] BoG warns of credit risks

    Bank of Greece's governor George Provopoulos on Wednesday warned Greek banks not to transfer part of a 28-bln-euro government-sponsored plan to boost liquidity in the economy to their subsidiaries in the Balkans because of growing concern over the impact of an international crisis on these countries.

    Speaking to Financial Times, the Greek banker said he was worried over the impact of an international crisis on Balkan economies -Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia- countries that have recorded a boom in loans in foreign currency (70 pct of total loans in Serbia, 60 pct in Hungary, and more than 50 pct in Romania and Bulgaria).

    Provopoulos told FT that he has recommended Greek banks to be more careful in approving loans and to taking more seriously economic conditions in these countries. "If economic conditions worsened significantly, Greek banks could become exposed not only to credit risks, but to risks related with foreign exchange rates," he noted.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of governor of Bank of Greece George Provopoulos

    [07] ASE : Big rise

    Equity prices were rising on Wednesday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), influenced by the international money markets, with the basic share price index up 1.60 percent, standing at 1,738.28 points at 14:25 p.m., and turnover at 76.8 million euros.

    Individual sector indices were moving upward across the board, with the biggest gains in Insurance, up 6.68 percent; Banks, up 2.90 percent; Telecoms, up 2.50 percent;

    The biggest losses were in Media down, 2.59 percent; Chemicals down, 1.01 percent; and Gas and Oil, down, 0.24 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was up 1.85 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index was up 1.23 percent, and the FTSE/ASE-80 small cap index was up 0.52 percent.

    Of the stocks moved, 120 were up, 72 were down, and 49 were unchanged.

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