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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 14-01-27

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greece praised during informal Justice and Home Affairs ministerial council
  • [02] Schools shut down in northern Greece due to weather conditions
  • [03] Greek banks plan to boost mortgage loan portfolios‏

  • [01] Greece praised during informal Justice and Home Affairs ministerial council

    ANA-MPA -- Greece's European partners praised the country on its organisation of the informal Justice and Home Affairs ministerial council, which began on Thursday at the Zappeion Megaron, the headquarters of the Greek EU presidency in central Athens, and was chaired by Greek Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou.

    European Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding said that the "Greek presidency will serve in the best way possible the 570 million European citizens, if it adheres to the schedule for processing legislation and especially a reform of laws on personal data."

    German Parliament State Secretary for Justice Christian Lange said he was "grateful that Greece was at the EU's helm," and added that the Greek presidency has put the right issues on the table.

    Finnish Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson and her Estonian counterpart Hanno Pevkur also praised Greece on the organisation of the meeting and the selection of topics on the day's agenda.

    Austrian Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetter said: "I feel impressed being here today. It was a very successful meeting, during which justice issues in the EU can progress."

    Luxembourg's Justice Minister Felix Braz pointed out that the Greek presidency "is doing a very good job", trying to get EU countries' to converge on very important issues.

    Spanish MEP and head of the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar said he was "moved by the fact that Greece's presidency would be the last presidency of the EuroParliament's current parliamentary term."

    It was very important, he added, that Greece was at the helm of the EU at a moment when the future direction of freedom, security and justice needs to be determined after the Stockholm Programme and when the problem of mass collection of personal information by foreign services needed to be tackled.

    "We should send a message that populism and extremism are not the solution for Europe," he said, adding that "Greece, in the midst of the worst crisis in the European history, is supporting European principles and values."

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    [02] Schools shut down in northern Greece due to weather conditions

    ANA-MPA/ Several schools in northern Greece will remain closed on Monday because of harsh weather conditions.

    Snow and ice forced the shutdown of schools from Orestiada and Soufli in the Evros prefecture, northeastern Greece, to the greater Florina area in western Macedonia.

    Furthermore, in some areas of western Macedonia, such as Amindeo, Serbia and Velvendo, the local authorities decided that schools will open an hour later.

    Icy conditions in the greater Serres area, northeast of Thessaloniki, called for the shutdown of schools in certain areas and created problems in rural roads, with affected municipalities salting roads to prevent accidents, Giorgos Karagiannidis, head of civil protection in Serres told ANA-MPA. He said traffic in the city of Serres was normal on Monday following a heavy snowfall overnight.

    According to Karagiannidis, traffic across the entire national road network of Serres prefecture continued normally on Monday without any problems.

    Long-distance KTEL buses, whose schedules were cancelled, have resumed their runs as of 11:00 am.

    [03] Greek banks plan to boost mortgage loan portfolios‏

    ANA-MPA/The Greek banking system will focus on housing credit in 2014 and the next year, banking officials said.

    Housing credit fell to a historic low, recording negative growth rates in the last few years, as a consequence of the crisis, after rising by more than 25 pct annually in the mid-2000.

    Banking officials said that new mortgage loans totaled around 150 million euros, or around 2,500 new loans, in 2013, almost a weekly figure during the "golden era" of bank credit. Greek banks plan to distribute more capital into housing credit this year.

    National Bank plans to boost its mortgage loans portfolio by more than 200 million euros, with other banks also planning similar projects.

    Greek banks have focused their attention, almost exclusively, in the last two years to renegotiate loans with debtors facing problems in loan repayment and have renegotiated more than 250,000 mortgage loans, worth 18 billion euros so far. Greek banks now aim to focus on the lending of households with healthy finances seeking to buy new homes.

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