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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-01-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou attacks gov't
  • [02] FM hails EU pact with Serbia
  • [03] Full SEPA services by late '09

  • [01] Papandreou attacks gov't

    [02] FM hails EU pact with Serbia

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis hailed Monday's political agreement, reached by the European Union on relations with Serbia.

    Specifically, responding to questions by Serbian journalists shortly after the close of Monday's EU Foreign Ministers Council meeting, she underlined that "today is an important day for the European Union and for Serbia" and that "the agreement that the EU reached shows that United Europe wishes to see at some moment Serbia in its ranks."

    The foreign minister said that Serbia is a European country and expressed her particular satisfaction over the fact that the Council adopted the five points of cooperation between the EU and Serbia, which the Greek government had proposed.

    Bakoyannis underlined the particular importance which the economic and commercial aspect of the agreement has, as well as the procedure for the liberisation of the visa for Serbians, which will go into effect in the coming months.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of FM Dora Bakoyannis.

    [03] Full SEPA services by late '09

    The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) was officially launched in the European Union on Monday, with commercial banks already offering certain applications to consumers, while a full implementation of the system was expected by 2011.

    SEPA aims to create a unified market in the euro payment services sector with no discriminations between cross-border and domestic payments, a goal which will be achieved with the abolition of all technical, legal and commercial barriers between national markets and with the introduction of single standards and procedures.

    Bank of Greece Vice-governor P. Thomopoulos, addressing an event organised by the central bank in Athens, said SEPA was another step towards the consolidation of financial markets, strengthening competition in the retail payments market and leading to more efficiency, lower costs and lower bank commissions. Thomopoulos said the Eurosystem, the European Commission and the European Council were firm supporters of SEPA and underlined that the launch of a Single Euro Payments Area, covering bank credit transfers, was just the beginning of a demanding procedure of changes.

    Christos Gortsos, secretary-general of the Hellenic Bank Union, referred to benefits to each user group (consumers, traders, enterprises, public sector enterprises, the public sector) from the introduction of the single payments area, and said Greek banks were preparing their systems to offer all SEPA services by the end of 2009.

    Caption: A file photo dated 13 January 2005 shows the euro sculpture by artist Otmar Hoerl in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt Main, Germany. ANA-MPA/ EPA/ARNE DEDERT

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