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Athens News Agency: News in English, 12-03-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papademos: 'Greece changing, it's time to now look forward'
  • [02] Greek shipping fleet again tops world list
  • [03] FinMin, bankers discuss PSI process, banks recapitalisation
  • [04] Four companies eye hydrocarbon surveys
  • [05] Two migrant smugglers injured in shootout with police along Evros

  • [01] Papademos: 'Greece changing, it's time to now look forward'

    BRUSSELS (AMNA) -- "Greece is changing, it is time to look forward," Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said on Friday, in statements after the end of the EU summit in Brussels. He seemed confident that things in Greece can improve and said that the summit results had expressed Europe's support for the implementation of policies that will boost growth and create jobs.

    "Europe is giving us a vote of confidence. Let us not prove them wrong," the prime minister added, stressing that those who must be proved wrong were those predicting Greece's failure.

    "Greece can and will prove this," he emphasised. amna

    Papademos said he felt more optimistic after the decisions made at the European leaders' summit, as well as his talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and other European commissioners, which showed that growth was now Europe's top priority.

    He said the summit had taken decisions and discussed specific policies for promoting growth that were important for Greece and "opened a window of opportunity for emerging from the economic crisis".

    Papademos stressed that Greece must use this opportunity, since the summit's decision made it clear that fiscal austerity and reforms to reduce deficits could also be accompanied by measures to boost liquidity and finance the economy, providing support for investment activity and assisting in its recovery. He said these must also systematically target ways of reducing "unacceptably high" unemployment, especially among the young, to modernise public administration while promoting electronic governance and electronic trade.

    "We have a lot to do," the prime minister said, emphasising the need to make better use of National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds from the EU by transferring funds to projects and businesses that create jobs. amna

    Among such projects he listed major infrastructure works, such as construction of national highways, and he emphasised the need to secure funds from abroad to support investments and the restructuring of the domestic financial system.

    He also stressed the need to better organise policy for exports so as to preserve and strengthen their recovery in the last two years and to continue exploiting renewable energy sources, as well as the search for fuel reserves under the sea.

    Another area emphasised by the premier was that of reforming Greece' tax collection mechanisms, creating a stable, simple and social just taxation system.

    "With the solidarity and support of our partners, Greece is currently making a huge effort and wants to leave behind the practices that brought it to the verge of bankruptcy," Papademos said.

    He stressed, also, that the effort made was yielding results and that this was reflected in the latest report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which ranked Greece first for the rate of making structural changes.

    Quoting a recent opinion poll, the prime minister noted that 65 percent of Greeks backed the economic programme and were anxious for it to succeed, even though this would require great effort and short-term sacrifices. amna

    Lastly, he hailed the unanimous re-election of Herman Van Rompuy as European Council president, describing him as a leader dedicated to the European idea and a valuable friend of Greece.

    [02] Greek shipping fleet again tops world list

    AMNA / Greece's merchant shipping fleet remained number one on the world list in 2011 despite a decline in the number of vessels, a report by Alpha Bank said on Friday.

    The report, citing data by Clarkson, showed that Greek shipowners control 15 pct of the global ocean-going transport capability, while data by Allied Shipbroking showed that Greek shipowners topped the list in terms of purchases and sales of vessels in 2011. amna

    The capacity of merchant ships under the Greek flag rose to 43.397 million DWTs in December 2011, up from 43.364 DWTs in November and 27.328 million in December 2000, although the number of vessels flying the Greek flag fell significantly to 2,014 vessels in December, down from 2,096 in December 2010, reflecting a fleet renewal programme.

    In 2011 30 pct of ships flying the Greek flag had an average age of less than 10 years.

    [03] FinMin, bankers discuss PSI process, banks recapitalisation

    AMNA / Completion of a PSI process and the recapitalisation of Greek banks were discussed during a meeting between Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, the Bank of Greece’s governor, the leadership of Hellenic Bank Association as well as the managements of the six largest domestic banks on Friday.

    Under the plan examined by the ministry and the EC-ECB-IMF "troika", the recapitalisation of banks was expected to be completed in three tranches through a support package for the domestic credit system, which will total as much as 50 billion

    The first tranche (worth 23 billion euros) must be released after completion of the PSI programme and it is directly related with the losses suffered by banks in their bond portfolios. The domestic banking system also seeks to gradually restore liquidity in the system, one of the main preconditions for restarting economic growth in the country. amna

    Within this framework, domestic banks are seeking to attract the return of deposits withdrawn from the domestic system over the past two years, totaling roughly 70 billion euros.

    [04] Four companies eye hydrocarbon surveys

    AMNA--At least four companies from the US, Norway and France, all global providers of geophysical services, have submitted applications to the environment, energy and climate change ministry to conduct seismic studies for hydrocarbons (oil and natural gas) in the Ionian sea and in the sea area south of the island of Crete.

    Reliable sources told AMNA that the companies that have already submitted relevant dossiers to the ministry include ION Geophysical (US), TGS-NOPEC (Norway), CGG Veritas (France) and Dolphin Geophysical (Norway), all of which specialise in seismic data acquisition, processing and interpretation, while in the past the Norwegian PGS had also expressed interest and company officials have visited the ministry.amna

    The deadline for the submission of interest expires at 3 p.m. on Friday. amna

    [05] Two migrant smugglers injured in shootout with police along Evros

    AMNA / Two migrant smugglers, injured in a shootout with police at the Tychero site along the Evros River in extreme NE Greece, are being treated in an Alexandroupolis hospital, it was announced on Friday. Twenty-five illegal migrants, 19 Bangladeshis and six Pakistanis were also apprehended.

    The foreign nationals' condition was listed as not life-threatening. amna

    The incident took place on Thursday

    Police came under fire by the migrant smugglers evening when police officers and members of the EU border monitoring agency, Frontex, spotted a boat coming from the Turkish side of river loaded with illegal immigrants. , who were armed with a hand pistol. In the ensuing exchange of gunfire the two smugglers were injured while a third managed to escape, swimming back to the Turkish side of the river. A manhunt is underway for his arrest by Turkish authorities.

    The two arrested migrant smugglers, a 33-year-old Turkish national and a 23-year-old Pakistani, are alleged members of a migrant smuggling ring active in the Evros River region.

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