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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-12-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Tsipras: 'We will actively support our islands and those guarding...Europe's eastern borders"
  • [02] European institutions 'surprised' by IMF blog on Greek programme, ESM spokesman says
  • [03] Piraeus Bank opens first fully automated e-branch in Greece

  • [01] PM Tsipras: 'We will actively support our islands and those guarding...Europe's eastern borders"

    Greece is an island country and would actively show support for its islands, as well as those guarding "Thermopylae" and the eastern borders of Europe, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday, in an address on the island of Nisyros. The first prime minister ever to visit the small and remote island, Tsipras announced a series of measures designed to support island populations throughout Greece, following a ceremony where he was named an honorary citizen of the island.

    "We will stick to the programme to the last detail but for the money that is in surplus, we will not ask anyone's permission to give it to those that have the greatest need," he said.

    Tsipras noted that the islands on the front line of the refugee crisis have to carry the burden of all Europe, so that a minimum compensation to the islanders shouldering this burden was a moral obligation.

    "I did not imagine that there could be political forces in the country that protested that we would vex our partners by providing some small assistance to those that need it," the prime minister said.

    He announced that the islands of the front line that carried the highest burden from the refugee crisis, from Samothrace to Kastellorizo, will be exempt from an increase in VAT.

    Greece will not lower the standard of support for social cohesion, Tsipras said, announcing the immediate activation of the Council of Island Policy and saying the government's aim was to convert islandness to an opportunity for growth. "Islandness is a foundation of EU treaties but also an article in the Greek Constitution," he pointed out.

    Tsipras said the conditions were now ripe to fully redesign the ferry transport network in order to better serve islands, noting that this would be done in consultation with island communities.

    A government priority will be to provide island inhabitants and especially the elderly by improving island health services, building hospitals and health centres, hiring additional staff and ensuring that there was no inhabited island that did not have a doctor, he said.

    He also outlined the government's plans for measures to support island economies, both by diversifying their tourism product but also by developing island agriculture, supporting SMEs, environmental measures and ensuring an adequate supply of water for all islands through a network of desalination plants for dry islands.

    The prime minister was accompanied by Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, Shipping and Island Policy Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis, Deputy Shipping and Island Policy Minister Nektarios Santorinios and MPs from the Dodecanese and Cyclades islands.

    [02] European institutions 'surprised' by IMF blog on Greek programme, ESM spokesman says

    BRUSSELS (ANA/ M. Aroni) European institutions were surprised by the opinions expressed by International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials Maurice Obstfeld and Poul M. Thomsen in the IMF blog on Monday, a European Stability Mechanism (ESM) spokesman said on Tuesday.

    "We support the European Commission's position on the views expressed by IMF officials," the spokesman said, saying the blog's publication was surprising at a time when a new round of talks was beginning in Athens to conclude the second review of the Greek programme, referring to the negotiations that were underway.

    "We hope to be able to return to the practice of conducting negotiations with the Greek government on the programme in private," the spokesman added.

    [03] Piraeus Bank opens first fully automated e-branch in Greece

    Piraeus Bank on Tuesday presented Greece's first fully automated bank e-branch, which opened a few days ago on the corner of Alexandras Avenue and Kifissias Avenue in Athens.

    Another two e-branches are scheduled to open in the Athens suburb of Halandri and at the McArthur Glen designer outlet centre in Spata in the near future, while Piraeus Bank intends to gradually open more such branches at selected locations nationwide.

    Presenting the new branch, Piraeus Bank spokesperson Eftychia Kaselaki said the new branches will have extended opening hours, including Saturdays, and staff on hand to help customers use the automated tellers and other digital services to carry out their transactions. Among these services are the "remote teller" service that allows customers to carry out 90 pct of traditional bank transactions with an experienced human teller using video calls.

    In addition to withdrawals and deposits of all kinds, customers will also be able to obtain prepaid gift cards, update bank books, remote registration for internet banking and familiarise themselves with the bank's e-services (Digital Zone).


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