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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-02-17
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM and Aliyev discuss cooperation in energyPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis and visiting Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev discussed cooperation in the energy sector during their meeting in Athens at midday on Tuesday. Also present during their talks were Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis.
In statements after the meeting, Karamanlis underlined that Azerbaijan was a partner of strategic significance and a very important country for Europe and Greece.
The aim of the Greek government was to expand cooperation between the two countries, the premier added - an effort that had begun with the TGI pipeline carrying natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via Turkey and Greece.
"Our country is the first European Union country to import natural gas from Azerbaijan," he noted.
The prime minister also clarified, in response to questions, that the negotiations and cooperation with Azerbaijan in no way implied any change of strategy by Greece regarding relations with Russia.
"The supply of natural gas from Azerbaijan was always at the centre of our policy and one of our fundamental priorities, as well as being an indispensable part of common European targets," Karamanlis said.
The prime minister stressed that Greece's relations with Russia were at an extremely good level and that the two countries were going ahead with two foremost projects in the energy sector.
Greece was striving, planning and had succeeded in becoming an energy hub for south-eastern Europe, in this way managing to serve its own interests, bilateral relations but also European strategy at the same time, Karamanlis said.
President Aliyev said his official visit to Greece had been extremely successful, referred to the bilateral agreements signed while he was in Athens and invited Greek businesses to invest in his country.
He said that bilateral relations with Greece were at a very good level and that energy cooperation played a major role in boosting bilateral ties.
The Azeri president expressed an interest in expanding cooperation in the natural gas supply sector, stressing that his country had pipelines and installations that would improve the energy security of Europe and of Greece.
Azerbaijan can and will play a role in ensuring energy security in Europe, Aliyev noted, adding that the role of good relations with Greece was for this reason important. He also extended an invitation to Karamanlis to visit Baku in order to "continue their excellent cooperation".
Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (R) and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev (L) held a joint press conference after their meeting in Athens on Tuesday, which focused on expanding energy cooperation between the two countries. ANA-MPA - M. Marogianni
 Banks' federation: No reason for 'bad bank' in GreeceGreek banks have no reason to request the creation of a "bad bank", while there is no such need objectively, the Hellenic Bank Association announced on Tuesday, commenting on recent speculation over the need of creating such an institution as an alternative to deal with the financial crisis worldwide.
In a statement, the Association said discussion around the world over the creation of a "bad bank" focuses on the purchase and management of so-called "toxic" investments and borrowing products by banks that are facing serious problems with their capital adequacy and suffering from heavy operating losses.
Greek banks have no such toxic products in their balance sheets, something confirmed by the Bank of Greece and auditors, the statement read.
 Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling says net profits down 10% in '08Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling on Tuesday reported a 10-pct drop in net profits to 425 million euros last year (in a comparable basis and based on IFRS).
The company said its results were burdened by a write-down of assets worth 189 million euros. The volume of sales grew 5.0 pct in 2008 to 2.116 billion unit cases, while turnover grew 8.0 pct to 6.98 billion euros.
Fourth quarter results showed a 93-pct drop in net profits to 3.0 million euros, although turnover rose 9.0 pct to 1.59 billion euros and net earnings per share fell 11 pct to 1.16 euros.
 Bakoyannis to OSCE Parliament, Gaza forumForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will travel to Vienna on Wednesday afternoon to attend the 2009 winter meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos announced.
During the two-day session on Thursday and Friday, Bakoyannis will brief the delegates on the priorities of the OSCE's Greek chair. On Thursday she is also to meet OSCE Secretary-General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and the members of a U.S. Congressional delegation to Vienna led by the chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission (Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe). The minister will meet the same officials during her later visit to Washington.
On the same day, Bakoyannis is to take part in the joint session of all three general committees of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the subsequent working dinner given by OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Joao Soares.
On March 2, Bakoyannis is scheduled to visit Egypt for an international conference on the reconstruction of Gaza after Israel's 22-day air strike offensive, that is taking place at the city of Sharm El Sheikh.
 Gov't slams PASOK allegations regarding OAED, interest ratesThe government on Tuesday flatly rejected recent criticism by main opposition PASOK over changes supposedly made in Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) registration guidelines after 2004, dubbing the opposition charges as "completely unfounded and misleading" or "indicating inadequate knowledge of the issue." Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros referred to statements by PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou and PASOK's sector head for employment, clarifying that nothing has changed as regards subsidised or the non-subsidised unemployed individuals. He stated that both Papaconstantinou and PASOK MP Evi Christofilopoulou have not said a thing about a reform adopted by the current government, reversing a practice that was in effect until 2004, according to which, pregnant women were eliminated from the OAED registries and their subsidisation was suspended. Antonaros stressed that the ruling New Democracy government has abolished this discriminatory provision against women, thereby preventing the interruption of their unemployment benefit payments. On the issue of the social work brought up by Papaconstantinou, the government spokesman called on PASOK to clarify if it will be paid or voluntary work, full-time or part-time, as well as how many people will be included and their employment status, as based on the work contract. Antonaros accused the PASOK spokesman of distorting reality, referring to his comments that the government allegedly "supports the bankers". He also pointed out that Papaconstantinou chose not to say anything on the specific figures presented on Monday to display the course of interest rates since 2004. The government spokesman referred to credit card use and consumer protection initiatives undertaken by the government, something he said was never done by any PASOK government. "The past is here no matter how much PASOK and its leader wish to forsake it..." Antonaros said, adding that PASOK leader George Papandreou himself is remembered as a PASOK minister who never objected to any of the previous governments' policies.
 FM in Washington next weekForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will visit the United States on Feb. 22 in her capacity as Greek foreign minister and chairperson of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The visit will be launched on Monday, Feb. 23 in Washington D.C., where she will address the Brookings Institution, on the issue of "Collective Security in the 21st Century - Building New Bridges". On Tuesday, Bakoyannis will meet with the president and members of the Helsinki Committee on OSCE issues. Later on the same day, she will meet with the chairman and members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations followed by a meeting with the chairman and members of the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. On Feb. 25, she will meet with her counterpart, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and attend a reception in her honor by US Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns. The second part of her visit will concern contacts in New York to be announced later on Tuesday. The foreign minister's meetings will focus on OSCE issues as well as on issues of mutual interest, both international and regional, such as the Middle East and the Caucasus. Additionally, issues of Greek interest, including the situation in the Balkans, relations with Turkey and the Cyprus issue will be discussed, according to foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos. "Greek-US relations can acquire a new substance, depth and width," Koumoutsakos said, adding that the new US government allows for realism and hope.
Referring to a meeting Bakoyannis will have on Wednesday in Athens with US Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Koumoutsakos it is "a positive development" that allows for direct briefing on issues of major interest for Greece.
Caption: A file photo dated Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2006, shows Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis (L) talking with US Sen. Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C. ANA-MPA / DIMITRIS PANAGOS
 Trade deficit cut in Jan-NovBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA) -- Greece's trade deficit totaled 33.2 billion euros in the 11-month period from January to November 2008, down 2.4 billion compared with the same period in 2007, Eurostat announced on Tuesday.
The EU executive's statistical agency, in a report, said Greek exports totaled 15.9 billion euros in the 11-month period, while imports totaled 49.1 billion euros in the same period. Greek exports were unchanged compared with the corresponding period in 2007, while imports fell 5.0 pct (from 51.5 billion to 49.1 billion euros).
Germany (168.2 billion euros) and the Netherlands (38 billion euros) recorded the highest trade surplus in the EU-27, while the UK (111.7 billion), Spain (84.2 billion), France (64.2 bln) and Greece (33.2 billion) recorded the highest trade deficit.
The Eurozone recorded a trade deficit of 32.1 billion euros with the rest of the world, while the EU-27 posted a trade deficit of 241.2 billion euros.
 NBG ups share in Gr. state bondsNational Bank on Tuesday said it has raised its portfolio in state bonds to 10.7 billion euros by mid-February, up 2.4 billion euros from the end of 2008, noting that this development was part of a strategic plan to further strengthen its leading role in the financing of public debt and to boost its presence in state securities' issues by redistributing its capital reverses.
The bank said it purchased five-year state bonds worth 2.7 billion euros, three-year state bonds worth 7.0 billion euros (buying bonds worth 350 million euros for its portfolio), it participated in a private placement of four-year FRN worth 2.82 billion euros (buying securities worth 680 mln euros) and in an auction of state bills worth 3.2 billion euros (buying another 542 mln euros in bills).
National Bank also announced it would issue medium-term securities, guaranteed by the Greek state, as part of a government-sponsored programme to boost liquidity in the Greek economy, despite the fact that the bank had nine billion euros in reserves.
ANA-MPA file photo.
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