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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-03-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Five largest Greek banks invested more than 2 billion euros in SE Europe
  • [02] PASOK leader attacks government
  • [03] Foreign ministry says 'History will be the strict judge' of Milosevic
  • [04] Proposal for common EU strategy on bird flu
  • [05] Opinion poll on social insurance reforms

  • [01] Five largest Greek banks invested more than 2 billion euros in SE Europe

    The five largest Greek banks have made overall investments of more than two billion euros in SE Europe, establishing a network of approximately 950 branches that employ 16,000 people, and commanding more than 16 percent of the banking market share in the region, according to figures released on Sunday by the Union of Greek Banks (EET).

    Alpha Bank managing director Dimitris Mantzounis, in an article in the latest EET informational bulletin, said that although these investments have not yet yielded the anticipated results, the profits of the Greek banks from activities in the region nearly doubled to 130 million euros in 2004 from 70 million euros in the preceding year (2003), marking an 86 percent increase.

    The operational plans of the major Greek banks predict even greater expansion over the next few years, aimed at profits from activities in the wider region of SE Europe accounting, by 2007, for up to 20 percent of their overall profits, from below 10 percent currently.

    Foreign banks control two-thirds of the assets of the banking system in the countries of SE Europe, with Austria controlling 25 percent, followed by Greece and Italy with 13 percent each. The highest percentages of penetration of foreign banks are recorded in Albania and Bulgaria (above 90 percent), followed by Romania (60 percent) in which privatisations are continuing.

    The growth margins of the banking sector in the Balkan countries is comparatively high, given that the overall assets of all the banks barely exceeds 36 billion euros, while in Greece the overall assets of the banking system exceed 260 billion euros, according to the EET bulletin. Financing in the Balkan countries, as a proportion of GDP, is just 25 percent, compared with 77 percent in Greece and 114 percent in the eurozone.

    In the coming years, financing to private entities and business concerns in the 5 Balkan countries is estimated to continue to increase at an annual average rate of more than 25 percent. Financing to private entitites shows even greater margins for growth, given that it barely exceeds 12 percentage points of GDO, compared with 33 percent in Greece and 56 percent in the eurozone, resulting in large growth margins for banking activities in the region.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [02] PASOK leader attacks government

    PASOK leader attacks government

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Sunday launched a scathing attack on the government and on prime minister Costas Karamanlis, and charged that the fiscal audit had been a "big fraud" on the part of the government, which boomeranged against the country, prompting a retort from national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis that the PASOK leader remained "glued to the past of the fiscal deficits and debts, virtual reality, the Stockmarket crime, the 50 new taxes, the increase in unemployment, and the exacerbation of high prices after the introduction of the euro".

    Addressing an event on "Active consumers at the centre of developments" organised by the PASOK development, competitiveness and consumer policy division, Papandreou described the fiscal audit as a "big fraud" that "worked at the country's expense".

    "There was no need for Greece to come under the supervision of the European Union, but the ND government, with its arrogant attitude, conveyed its opposition fury to Brussels, and defrauded the citizens," Papandreou said, adding that Karamanlis bore the exclusive responsibility for the fiscal audit. he further called on the prime minister "to come to parliament himself and give account for the harm he did to Greece and the Greek citizens", adding that what the prime minister succeeded with the fiscal audit was in the European Union calling the Greeks swindlers.

    "This accusation is for Karamanlis, and not the Greeks," Papandreou said, at the same time accusing the government of disdaining the accomplishments of the preceding PASOK government for petty political reasons, with the aim of not fulfilling his pre-electoral pledges.

    "You wasted the money and the prestige of the Greek people, the country's prospects. You defrauded the citizens, and even refused to give the heating subsidy," the PASOK leader said, addressing himself to the government.

    Papandreou continued that the Greek people would give their reply to the government in the next elections, stressing that "soon, the Greek people will put an end to this neo-right period and they (the government) will return to the opposition desks".

    The PASOK leader outlined his party's policies on combatting high prices and excessive borrowing, agricultural policy, policy on youth and consumers. "We will not promise everything to everyone and then not do anything the following day," he said, adding that PASOK would proceed, through deliverations, to more initiatives, and called on the government to contain the DEKO (public utilities) rates and not introduce new taxes.

    Commenting later on Papandreou's address, Alogoskoufis said that the PASOK leader "remains glued to the past of the fiscal deficits and debts, virtual reality, the Stockmarket crime, the 50 new taxes, the increase in unemployment, and the exacerbation of high prices after the introduction of the euro".

    "Once again, Mr. Papandreou is attempting to turn white to black. In order to cover up his political impasses, he is attemtping to create confusion, by using black propaganda.The problem for the economy was the immense fiscal deficits and debts that the PASOK governments left in their wake. It was not the fiscal audit that revealed them," he said, adding that "the problem for the European Union is that the PASOK governments lied to the European services, to our European partners, and to the Greek people. The problem was not the New Democracy government, which spoke the truth".

    The economy minister said that the fiscal deficits were now being contained without new taxes being imposed, while the growth rate of the Greek economy was among the highest in the eurozone, and unemployment was declining. "With the policy of reforms, we are consolidating a new prospect for all the Greeks. Mr. Papandreou's PASOK is identified with the PASOK of Mr. Simitis. It remains stuck to the past, to the policy that was condemned by the Greek people and that the people will condemn anew at the first opportunity," Alogoskoufis said.

    Also commening on Papandreou's speech, government spokesman and state minister Theodoros Roussopoulos said that the terror of the decline PASOK was on, two years after the last general elections, "has also taken hold of its leader, and is leading him to the infamous populistic PASOK".

    He said that Papandreou has never given account for the consecutive frauds of the plasmatic budgets, the hidden debts, thehidden deficits, the hidden unemployment, the stockmarket scandal, the systematic defrauding of the people and the irresponsible waste of their toil, "although he bears a heavy personal responsibility, as a member of all the PASOK governments for years".

    Roussopoulos said that Papandreou had exceeded every limit of audacity in casting blame "on those who revealed the reality, bringing to light the irregularities of the PASOK system, on those who, shouldering the burdens of the past, are today building strong foundations for a better prospect for all, and on those whose non-negotiable principle is to speak only the truth and the entire truth to the Greek people".

    He said that Papandreou, as a genuine representative of PASOK's policy, has opted to invest in "bubbles" of the past: in lies, black propaganda, exacerbation and polarisation.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [03] Foreign ministry says 'History will be the strict judge' of Milosevic

    The Greek Foreign Ministry in an announcement on Sunday evening, regarding the death the previous day of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, said that "the death of Slobodan Milosevic sealed a tragic era of tensions, crises and wars which plagued the Balkans for almost a decade," noting that "during this era, Milosevic held a central position and responsibility."

    The annoucement added:"The Court (of Justice at the Hague) will not finally judge him. History, as a strict judge, will judge him."

    The foreign ministry announcement went on to say:"The major matter today in the Balkans is not sticking to assessments of the past. It is capitalising on every possibility for the building of a European future of peaceful co-existence, stability and development for all."

    KKE calls Milosevic death 'cold, calculated murder'

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Saturday called the death of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic a "cold, calculated murder", adding that it was "another work of the US and the EU, which are responsible both for the break-up of, and war on, Yugoslavia".

    "The masterminds and executioners of the abduction, imprisonment and trial of Milosevic at The hage, instead of leading the parody trial to an end, opted to lead Milosevic himself to death. they refused to take measures to protect his life, despite the large wave of protext against his incarceration, and despite the fact that the deterioration of his health was serious".

    The KKE, in an announcement, said that regardless of one's opinion on Milosevic's policy, "our people must condemn the imperialistic forces that led a president to prison and annihilation, only because he resisted their plans, which were at his country's expense".

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [04] Proposal for common EU strategy on bird flu

    State minister and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos has sent a letter to European Commission vice-president Margot Wallstrom, who holds the portfolio for Institutional Relations and Communications Strategy, regarding the briefing of the European citizens on avian influenza (bird flu), it was made known on Sunday.

    The letter refers to the need for the undertaking of a common communications strategy that would not suffice only in prevention guidelines and the protection of public health, but should also extend to the dynamic support -- through specialised informational campaigns for the producer classes and the related industries immediately affected, with adverse consequences on the economy of each member state and also the European economy as a whole.

    Agricultural development minister Evangelos Bassiakos will also speak about the proposal for a common communications strategy aimed at seeking common actions, at a meeting of the EU farm ministers in Brussels on March 20.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [05] Opinion poll on social insurance reforms

    The Greek people believe that the social insurance system is not viable, according to an opinion poll conducted by ALCO appearing in the Sunday edition of Ethnos newspaper.

    According to a phone poll on a sampling of 800 individuals in Athens and Thessaloniki, 76.5 percent of the respondents consider that the social insurance system as it stands today is not viable, against 18.1 percent who believe it is viable. Of interest is the fact that the largest proportion of those who believe the system is not viable declared themselves to be PASOK voters, 78.7 percent of which said the system is not viable, against 55.2 percent of New Democracy voters who said the system is not viable.

    Despite acknowledgement of the problem, only 47.8 percent felt that the issue should be opened at this time, while 42.1 percent felt the issue should not be opened up, and 10.1 percent did not state an opinion.

    To a question on whether they had confidence in the government for the handling of the social insurance issue, 71.7 percent of the respondents said no -- 32.7 percent said the had no confidence at all, while 39 percent said they had "little" confidence -- whereas 22.7 percent said they did have confidence -- 19 percent said they had sufficient confidence, while 3.7 percent said they had 'much' confidence -- and 5.6 percent did not express an opinion.

    The majority of the respondents also opposed any change to the retirement levels, and on any changes made affecting all the working people. More specifically, 57.1 percent stated opposition to an increase in the retirement ages, while 37.9 percent agreed to changing the age and 5 percent took no position. Also 53.7 percent felt that any changes should affect only newcomers on the job market, while 36.4 percent said the changes should affect all workers, and 9.9 percent did not take a position.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

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