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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-02-24
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM to chair inner cabinet meeting on econonyPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will chair an Inner Cabinet meeting in a full session in Parliament on Wednesday at noon which will focus on the government‚s economic policy, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced on Tuesday.
?The ministers and deputy ministers will be briefed on the latest facts considering that the (international economic) crisis is evolving and new symptoms are emerging,? he said, stressing that ?all governments are focused on them and an extraordinary EU summit meeting will be held next weekend.?
Antonaros stated that no discussion on bank privatisations was held in the government, and referring to the eyebrow-raising position expressed by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou -- who said nationalisations of domestic banks was not of the question -- pointed out that promptly taken initiatives have provided the local banking system with all the necessary tools to fully meet its social role.
He also stressed that relevant legislation exerts the necessary pressure on the banks to respond to their social role, while the Bank of Greece also has a specific role.
On the likelihood of new taxes, Antonaros pointed out that ?the unfolding economic crisis is unprecedented and needs to be closely watched while doing everything possible to limit its consequences, including necessary adjustments.?
The announced spending cuts that proceed through specific initiatives and actions is the tool we want to use, he stressed.
In an another development meanwhile, Prime Minister Karamanlis on Tuesday sent congratulations to Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga on her re-election to the party helm during the KKE's 18th congress, which ended on Sunday.
In the letter, Karamanlis expressed his conviction that Papariga will continue to exercise her institutional role with commitment to her principles, and wished her health and strength.
To the degree allowed by the ideological and political differences between the KKE and his ruling New Democracy (ND) party, but also to the degree mandated by the present critical phase for the country amid the international economic crisis, Karamanlis said he looked forward to her cooperation towards limiting the repercussions of the crisis on the country and Greek society.
 Deputy FM addresses Black Sea development con'fNotable growth momentum in the Black Sea region, particularly in the sectors of energy and transportation, was underlined by Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis during his address at a Black Sea conference on regional integration and inclusive growth, held in Athens by World Bank under the auspices of the foreign ministry. Kassimis said that despite the improved business environment achieved in the Black Sea region in recent years, further measures are needed in the sectors of energy, transport, agriculture and infrastructure considering that there are still challenges that need to be met as regards stability and security. He underlined the constructive cooperation between the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation, BSEC, and EU and referred to the Black Sea Partnership Initiative launched a year ago in Kiev aspiring to improve cooperation on issues concerning democracy, human rights, good governance, security, the environment, commerce, energy and transportation. Kassimis stressed that forging closer relations between the EU, the Black Sea region and BSEC is a standing priority for Greece underlining the presence of ethnic Greek populations in almost all the countries in the region.
The conference focuses on strategic importance issues, regional commerce, common challenges in investments and development, and measures aimed at limiting the effects of the climate change and ensuring the fair distribution of growth-related benefits.
 FM addresses Brookings InstituteWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA / T.Ellis) - Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday termed 2009 a year of challenge for all, during a speech at the Brookings Institution on the theme of "Collective Security in the 21st century; Building new bridges".
"I think we all agree that 2009 is a critical year. It could be the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning of an incredibly challenging time," Bakoyannis, who is on three-day visit to the US capital, told her audience.
"The global financial and economic crisis casts a shadow over all of our efforts. And no doubt it concerns people not just numbers. The massive economic downturn we are witnessing is dramatically changing the political landscape thus presenting a security concern all in itself.
"In the wider European region alone, just a few weeks ago, the gas crisis reminded us of the vulnerability of our energy supplies. The after-effects of the Georgia conflict last August have not given way to long-term stability. In Kosovo, the year that has passed since its unilateral declaration of independence has brought us no closer to a consensus on its status. In Transdniestr and Nagorno-Karabakh, long-standing protracted conflicts continue to defy resolution." she said.
"One thing is clear. In our multi-polar world, security depends on more than just power. It depends on building relationships and forging ties. It depends on building bridges over troubled waters. Global problems require global solutions. The need for global governance, the need for collective action and an international order based on common rules, has never been greater," Bakoyannis emphasised.
"We in Greece have developed through the ages the art of building bridges. Therefore, I am proud to say that over the years Greece has forged strong ties and built solid relationships with peoples close and afar that have withstood the test of time. Greece is present in the efforts made by the international community for peace and security in regions as far apart, as Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgia, Western Sahara, Abkhazia, Eritrea & Ethiopia and Sudan.
"In the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean, Greece helps combat international terrorism. In Somalia we are assisting in the fight against piracy. In the Middle East we have been active amongst others in assisting the women of the region on their road to empowerment. And in Afghanistan our force there is assisting in the reconstruction of the country.
"With this in mind, I would like to describe three bridges we see as very significant.
"We need to formulate the most expedient power-sharing possible with each side undertaking the responsibilities it is most fit to bear. In this context, European soft power is a desired corollary to US military might. Still, Europe must develop, as it has already started to do slowly, its own military capability, which is crucial, particularly in regions, where only Europe is an acceptable mediator by all. To be totally candid however there are certain issues that the European Union must resolve in order to keep our side of the bargain. We have shown leadership, as in the crisis in Georgia, but we still have some way to go," she said.
Turning to problems in the Balkan region and which are of particular interest to Greece, the Greek foreign minister said:
"In Bosnia-Herzegovina, 14 years after the Dayton Accords much remains to be done, especially when it comes to streamlining decision-making. A change in the mindset, the active participation of all its citizens and a certain degree of political consensus is needed. After some slow progress in 2008, 2009 is a crucial year in the European integration of the country in order to match this of its neighbours.
"It is significant that countless prophesies of doom never materialised ... As it is equally significant that the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, irrespective of religious and ethnic background, are looking forward towards a Euro-Atlantic future for their region. Yet, the state remains extremely fragile and the international community must re-engage.
"Turning to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: In the past couple of years a number of worrying signals have been coming from Skopje. The government of Nikola Gruevski appears to have chosen the road of nationalism, awakening Balkan 'ghosts'. The forthcoming presidential elections there this March will be another key test.
"Particularly since last June‚s parliamentary elections were mired with violence and voting irregularities. As you probably know, Greece has been in negotiations, under the auspices of the UN, for years with the FYROM over its name. Despite our good will and our sincere efforts, these negotiations have not been successful so far. We hope that the government of Skopje will meet us half-way and agree on a win-win solution.
"Last but not least, Turkey. I think many of us agree that Turkey‚s accession to the European Union is key. Greece is very much in support, and has proved it over the years.
"Our support for Turkey is naturally offered under the same rules and principles which apply to each and every EU candidate. This is the same process for everyone - the one for example that Greece had to go through. Hence, our support can not be unconditional. It relies upon Turkey honouring her commitments and promises.
"Turkey has taken certain steps forward, in the reform process. We were all happy to note that there was some progress with the amendment of infamous Article 301 of the penal code. This was long overdue.
"Much remains to be done, however. Overall progress is assessed by the EU as quite modest. A number of outstanding issues remain to be addressed. These issues concern among others, the consolidation of the democratic system, as well as the respect of minority rights, of the freedom of religion and of the freedom of expression. In the same spirit, good neighbourly relations and adherence to International Law are also of capital importance.
"No doubt Turkey has a long and winding road ahead. Nevertheless, it is clear that it is a road well worth travelling because it would benefit both Turkey and Europe ... Linked with Turkey‚s prospects for accession to the EU is its continued occupation of Cyprus. A just, lasting, and functional solution for the reunification of the island after 35 years of Turkish occupation is long overdue.
"In 2008 we welcomed the beginning of a new effort, within the UN framework, with direct talks between the two sides. We hope that this new effort will achieve an agreed settlement, which will at last reunify the island and allow the two communities to live side by side and prosper."
Caption: Greek FM Dora Bakoyannis speaks at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Feb. 23, 2009. ANA-MPA / DIMITRIS PANAGOS
 Greek stocks end 0.23% lowerGreek stocks ended slightly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The composite index of the market eased 0.23 pct to end at 1,545.40 points, with turnover a low 94.3 million euros, of which 4.1 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Financial Services (6.07 pct), Insurance (2.58 pct) and Media (2.19 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Personal/Home Products (1.99 pct), Oil (1.70 pct) and Industrial Products (1.67 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index eased 0.03 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.26 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index fell 0.93 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 136 to 66 with another 50 issues unchanged.
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