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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-10-19
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Karamanlis stresses closer cooperation between Greece, EIBAthens aims to develop new partnerships with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and to promote joint projects between public and private sectors in the fields of healthcare and education, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said here on Thursday.
Addressing the EIB's annual conference, held in the Greek capital for the first time ever, the Greek premier noted that the European Union could and must be more energetic in promoting reforms in southeastern Europe, in order to contribute to better stability, democracy and peace in the wider region, along with boosting economic growth to the benefit of countries and the entire region.
Addressing an audience of more than 600 delegates, Karamanlis said Greece was moving forward with reforms, while he stressed that first results were optimist for future. He also referred to initiatives undertaken by the country to create a single economic and energy area, underlining the significance of Bulgaria and Romania entering the EU, a development he said will all for a "geographical integration" between Greece and the rest of the EU.
The European Investment Bank approved loans worth 895 million euros for investments in Greece last year, particularly in the sectors of transport and energy. Loans so far this year total 245 million euros, while projects -- budgeted around 390 million euros -- are expected to be signed soon.
Caption: PM Karamanlis greets EIB President Philippe Maystadt outside the hotel in downtown Athens where the organisation's annual conference was held on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006. ANA-MPA photo / M. Marogianni.
 Athens, Rehn on Turkey's Euro processThe European Union's stepped up efforts to keep Turkey's recently bumpy accession process on course by steering clear of an possible "train crash" over Cyprus dominated a meeting here on Thursday between EU Commissioner Olli Rehn and Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.
Both sides, nevertheless, emphasised that Turkey must meet its commitments to the European Union, a leitmotif that refers directly to Ankara's obligation to open its ports and airports to Cyprus-flagged carriers, among others.
Rehn, in fact, told reporters after a working lunch with Bakoyannis that the Union's best approach is a "fair and firm" policy vis-?-vis increasingly touchy EU-Turkey relations, whereas a high-profile Finnish EU presidency formula for generating a breakthrough on Cyprus "is the only game in town".
The Finnish Commissioner said the "fair" component deals with the Union keeping its word to Ankara, "sticking to our commitment by providing an accession perspective for Turkey on the condition that Turkey fully meets all the conditions for accession to the letter ..."
"We expect that Turkey will re-launch its reforms process with full determination and resolution, including issues such as freedom of expression and religious freedoms, and that Turkey will meet its obligations as regards the Ankara protocol," Rehn said during a press conference at the Greek foreign ministry.
On her part, Bakoyannis first repeated Athens' standing support for Turkey's European orientation, while stressing that its accession is "inter-connected with its obligation to meet criteria, obligations and preconditions set forth by the European Union.
"...these commitments, with the foremost being the opening of Turkish ports and airports towards all EU member-states are not linked with other issues that concern the EU, such as the issue of a trade protocol with the Turkish Cypriot community. Regarding the latter, we support efforts being made by the Finnish presidency, while sharing the approach of the Republic of Cyprus," she underlined, expressing a hope that the ongoing Finnish initiative is successful.
Both sides, in fact, went out of their way to express praise for the Finnish EU presidency's initiative, with Rehn voicing the Commission's backing to "de-block the current stalemate" regarding trade between the Turkish Cypriot community and the 20 EU members.
Moreover, Rehn said he's grateful for Athens' support, saying that the Finnish formula may be "the last opportunity for quite some time in order to start a serious process for the reunification of Cyprus."
Specifically, in terms of press speculation regarding the Cypriot ghost town of Varosha -- the modern part of occupied Famagusta -- Bakoyannis replied to a press question by saying talks about the issue "are on the negotiating table".
"However, and I want to make this clear, there is no written text on which we can make observations; the Finnish presidency is discussing various ideas with all the interested parties."
"...it is in the hands of the Finnish presidency to negotiate on this particular formula, and I find it as a positive sign that this (plan) has not been leaked to the media; both communities and all parties involved in this issue have shown their constructive approach by keeping the contents, so far, to themselves and letting the Finnish presidency to prepare the ground for a constructive compromise to create a win-win situation for all the parties concerned," Rehn added about the Varosha issue.
Asked if alternative options were being considered in case Turkey does not implement the Ankara protocol, Rehn was quick to respond.
"First of all, there is still time for Turkey to meet its obligations, even though it would have been better if it had taken place yesterday or last year. At the same time we have to focus our efforts to support the Finnish formula, which would mean that we would make a serious breakthrough in the current stalemate situation on Cyprus. It is better we focus on that; the alternate to that is only a variety of bad options, and I don't allow myself the luxury of considering plan B, plan C or D. It's better to focus on the main goal..." he said.
In unrelated developments, Rehn said discussions also touched on wider enlargement policy in the region, as he called Greece the "heartland" of SE Europe, praising Athens for its close cooperation with the Union on issues related to the accession of Bulgaria and Romania in the Union.
Earlier, Bakoyannis received top Turkish EU negotiator Ali Babacan for talks.
Meeting with Papandreou
Meanwhile, Rehn later met with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, following the latter's earlier meeting with Babacan.
Papandreou, a former foreign minister in two successive Simitis governments, also stressed Turkey's obligations to both neighbouring Greece and to EU member-state Cyprus.
The PASOK leader will travel to Helsinki on Friday for talks with the Finnish EU presidency, following consultations he had with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Cypriot Foreign Minister Lillikas.
Caption: Bakoyannis and Rehn meet in Athens on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006. ANA-MPA photo / M. Kiaou.
 FinMin to head business delegation to ChinaEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis will head a large business delegation to China next week, specifically from Oct. 22 to Oct. 28.
The visit to Beijing and Shanghai is organised by the Hellenic Export Promotion Organisation.
The ministerās agenda includes meetings with Bank of China Governor Shou Xiaochuan, Finance Minister Jin Renging, Trade Minister Bo Xilai, the chairman of Shanghai Stock Exchange and the mayor of the major city.
 New hospital in Athens coastal districtThe Athens-based Ygeia healthcare group on Thursday announced the signing of an agreement with the Hellenic Red Cross to build a new general hospital in the upscale coastal district of Voula, southeast of downtown Athens.
Ygeia will build a 40,000-sq.m facility on a 10-hectare lot owned by the Hellenic Red Cross, thereby replacing the existing Asklipeion Voula Hospital.
Under the terms of the agreement, Ygeia will also build a private maternity clinic. The listed company expects the project to exceed 100 million euros.
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