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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-11-27
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM meets Christofias; praise for EU planPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis praised the plan unveiled by the European Commission for tackling the global financial crisis on Thursday, in statements shortly after his meeting with visiting Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.
Describing the plan as "positive", the Greek premier stressed the need for coordinated efforts within the framework of the EU and said that Greece would exhaust the margins for flexibility in fiscal discipline under the Stability Plan in order to assist lower income groups.
Referring to Greek banks and their participation in the government's plan to support liquidity, Karamanlis stressed that this was oriented to supporting the real economy and especially those needing mortgages. Participation in the scheme by banks was voluntary but all of them had an obligation to do their part, while there would be strict rules and state supervision of how the money was used by banks, he added.
Karamanlis, Christofias in full agreement over Cyprus issue
His meeting with Cyprus's president had revealed full agreement between Athens and Nicosia regarding the effort to solve the Cyprus issue, Karamanlis said in statements afterwards. The Greek premier stressed that negotiations must continue until agreement was reached on a solution that was compatible with and based on the resolutions of the United Nations, the precepts of international law and the principles of the European Union.
Karamanlis stressed that such a solution should take the form of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, as outlined in UN resolutions, and make provision for a state having a single sovereignty, one nationality and one international identity.
He also warned Turkey that departure from these values was counter to UN resolutions and preceding agreements, stressing that there was no deadline for the negotiations and that any solution agreed upon would then have to be ratified by separate referendum in the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. Finally, the Greek premier pointed out that the negotiations and solving the Cyprus issue were issues that also concerned the European Union, and that any exceptions to European rules should be limited and temporary.
Turning to Turkey's stance and recent controversy sparked in the Aegean Sea and in Cyprus, Karamanlis noted that such incidents did not assist efforts to build a productive relationship but instead gave rise to serious concerns. He said that Greece's policy concerning the solution of the Cyprus problem was "known and strong, being based on powerful weapons: international law, the European 'acquis' and the resolutions of the Security Council."
In response to questions, meanwhile, the Greek premier said that the joint defence dogma with Cyprus still existed and was strong, as was cooperation between Greece and Cyprus.
Christofias also emphasised the absolutely identical views of the two governments on solving the Cyprus problem and thanked Greece for its support. He underlined that a solution must be found by Cypriots and be in line with UN resolutions.
"When we say that [Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat] is not self-directed but guided by Turkey, our answer must be and is the cooperation of two independent sovereign states of Cyprus and of Greece, and we want to stress this independence," Christofias said.
Cyprus' president repeated that the solution should be based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation along the lines of UN resolutions, while he condemned provocative action by Turkey in Cyprus and the Aegean.
Accusing Turkey of trying to drive Cyprus from the negotiating table, Christofias stressed that Nicosia would not allow this but would insist on dialogue.
Christofias meets Parliament president
In a related development, Christofias also met with Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, with both men citing their devotion to a common target for a viable and just solution to the Cyprus issue and the demolition of the last wall separating a city in Europe.
Sioufas assured Christofias that the Greek Parliament will continue to support the people and the state of Cyprus with the same determination as in the past. He also expressed Greece's support for the dialogue between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to reach a fair and viable solution within the framework of UN resolutions and the European acquis.
"We know that you have begun a dialogue with the Turkish Cypriot leader in September, and that you steadfastly insist on talks in order for a solution to be reached," Sioufas said, adding: "Cyprus' economic success and its accession to the euro zone in 2008 is another fact that indicates the Cypriot people's assertiveness in the face of a difficult global economic juncture."
Christofias said he will do his best to persuade Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat that "only we, the Cypriots, share common interests and we will be called on at the end of the day to govern our country, removed from foreign interventions, occupation and illegal settlements."
Caption: Cyprus President Demetris Christofias (left) was received by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (right) on the steps of Maximos Mansion on Thursday, prior to holding talks that focused on the course of negotiations to solve the Cyprus issue. ANA-MPA - Symela Pantzartzi.
 Vivartia revises business plan, in talks with group of investorsVivartia's board on Thursday announced the revision of its existing business plan, saying the revision was necessary since a provision to securitise part of the Group's fixed assets, up to 400 million euros, did not seem feasible for the time being due to the international financial crisis.
The main characteristics of the revised business plan were a dynamic growth of sales and profitability through organic growth and greater international activities. Meanwhile, Vivartia's board was informed that its main shareholder, Marfin Investment Group, and a group of investors led by Vivartia's chief executive, Spyros Theodoropoulos, and the Olayan Group, were in advanced talks to sign a cooperation agreement that could end in buying a larger minority stake in Vivartia.
Vivartia's new business plan envisages a turnover of 1.458 billion euros this year, rising to 1.731 billion in 2009, 1.909 billion euros in 2010, 2.136 billion in 2011, 2.403 billion in 2012 and 2.672 billion euros in 2013. EBITDA are expected to rise by 16.5 pct on average over the five-year period from 155 million euros this year to 332 million in 2013. Earnings per share are projected to rise from 0.08 euros per share in 2008 to 1.36 euros in 2013 for an average growth of 75 percent.
 Marfin Egnatia opts out of gov't plan to boost bank liquidityMarfin Egnatia Bank will not participate in a government plan to boost liquidity in the domestic banking system, Marfin Group executive vice-president Andreas Vgenopoulos said on Thursday.
Addressing a seminar by OTOE - the union representing bank employees in Greece - on the international financial crisis, the Greek banker stressed that Marfin Egnatia Bank enjoyed high liquidity and capital, while he noted that the government plan would not boost liquidity in the Greek economy but only the needs of certain banks to resolve their liquidity problems.
Vgenopoulos also criticised the government, saying it was unthinkable to present such a plan without consulting with the union first.
He said it was necessary to reach a consensus deal to resolve all problems arising from the international credit crisis. Vgenopoulos said this goal could be achieved if all interested parties agreed to contribute their best and stressed that under these preconditions Marfin Group intended to cut its profit margins to the benefit of society.
Responding to criticism over high profits announced by banks, Vgenopoulos said profits should be always measured according to the capital used by banks.
 Deputy FM briefed on Czech EU presidency prioritiesPRAGUE (ANA-MPA / N. Melissova) -- Deputy Foreign Minister Yannis Valinakis met here on Thursday with Czech Deputy PM for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra, with talks focusing on priorities of the Czech EU Presidency in the first half of 2009. As regards regional issues, Valinakis referred to the neighbouring former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) and its appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, stressing that this development shows that there is no intention on the part of the Skopje government for progress in negotiations aimed at reaching a mutually acceptable solution to the "name issue". He also stated that the same atmosphere is evident in UN negotiations. As regards Serbia, both men discussed the likelihood of the country receiving an EU candidate-country status within the year. Croatia's bid to complete the accession process in 2009 and the EULEX matter for Kosovo were also discussed. The Czech deputy PM referred to the Lisbon Treaty, stressing that the last remaining obstacles for its ratification will soon be lifted, while the likelihood of a new referendum on the issue is not ruled out in Ireland before the end of 2009. Later in the afternoon, Valinakis will meet with his counterpart Jan Kohout to discuss European and developmental issues. The deputy FM is expected in Athens on Friday.
 PPC reports losses in Jan-SepPublic Power Corp. (PPC), Greece's power utility, on Thursday reported a net loss of 244.6 million euros in the nine-month period from January to September, after profits of 60.2 million euros in the corresponding period last year as well as pre-tax losses of 258.3 million euros from pre-tax profits of 76.6 million euros in the nine-month periods, respectively.
Pre-tax, interest and amortisations earnings (EBITDA) fell by 54 pct to 280.8 million euros in the January-September period from 610.8 million euros last year, while revenues totaled 4.416 billion euros from 3.842 billion euros, for an increase of 15 percent. The power utility noted that 55 pct of total revenues were directly exposed to fuel prices and CO2 volatility.
Proceeds from the sale of electricity grew 15.1 pct to 4.132 billion euros in the nine-month period, reflecting mainly an 11.9-pct increase in electricity rates.
Commenting on the results, PPC chairman and chief executive P. Athanasopoulos said unprecedented increases in oil prices and electricity energy markets, along with the cost for CO2 emissions, had negatively affected the company's results, although he stressed that this negative conjecture had also revealed PPC's structural weaknesses.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo
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