• TIFF opens on Friday evening with record number of spectators

    Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF) opened on Friday evening with a record number of spectators, being the gala with the most tickets sold of all the 14 editions – 2,500, according to the organisers.

    The screening of “Wild Tales” film, which opened the festival, was preceded by a short speech delivered by the festival chairman, Tudor Giurgiu, who thanked the people of Cluj for the support so far.

    Giurgiu even talked about two things that occurred before the opening of the festival. Upon entering a barber’s shop on Friday, a man from Cluj told him how proud he was that very many people knew Cluj due to the festival and how much this event contributed to increasing the culture level of the city. Giurgiu also met by chance a young local politician, who asked him for an invitation to the gala, although he had never asked him about the festival or its organisation during the entire year. The chairman of the jury said he found it sad to discover this kind of behaviour in a young man.

    In the same speech, Tudor Giurgiu made a call on the people living in Cluj and on the authorities to help him prevent the takeover the Film Warehouse, a deserted space of the RomaniaFilm Film Distribution and Exploitation Public Corporation (RADEF), which was discovered two-three years ago jammed with discarded reel of film and then cleaned within a TIFF campaign. The warehouse is now used for screenings and as an event centre for children, but the Interior Ministry, through the voice of a local representative, demanded this space. More…

  • Bank of Cyprus announced €29 million net profit in Q1

    Bank of Cyprus Group announced €29 million after tax profit attributable to the owners for the quarter ending 31 March 2015, compared to a loss of €337 mn in the fourth quarter 2014.

    The Common Equity Tier 1 capital (CET 1) ratio (transitional basis) stood at 13,9% at 31 March 2015, compared to 14,0% at 31 December 2014, while the fully loaded CET 1 ratio remained unchanged at 13,4%.

    On 31 March 2015, gross loans and customer deposits totalled €24,1 bn and €13,6 bn respectively, with the L/D ratio improving to 138%, compared to 141% at 31 December 2014.

    Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) has been further reduced by €500 mn during 1Q2015 to €6,9 bn at 31 March 2015. Post quarter end, ELA was further reduced by €500 mn to €6,4 bn. ELA has been reduced by €5,0 bn since its peak of €11,4 bn in April 2013.

    Loans in arrears for more than 90 days (90+ DPD) for the Group totalled €12.789 mn on 31 March 2015 and accounted for 53% of gross loans (90+ DPD ratio).

    The Bank remains appropriately capitalised, with CET1 ratio (transitional basis) at 13,9% at 31 March 2015 (compared to 14,0% at 31 December 2014). Adjusting for Deferred Tax Assets, the CET1 ratio on a fully-loaded basis totalled 13,4% on 31 March 2015.

    Net Interest income (NII) for 1Q2015 totalled €225 mn in line with the previous quarter.

    Total expenses for 1Q2015 were €102 mn, showing an 11% decrease from €114 mn for 4Q2014, mainly due to increased non-recurring other operating expenses during 4Q2014. Hence the cost to income ratio improved to 38% for 1Q2015 from 41% for 4Q2014.

    Profit before provisions and impairments, restructuring costs and discontinued operations for 1Q2015 was €170 mn, compared to €167 mn for 4Q2014.

    Provisions for impairment of customer loans (continuing operations) for 1Q2015 amounted to €148 mn , compared to the elevated provisions of €248 mn for 4Q2014, which is related to the completion of the review of the Asset Quality Review (AQR) results.

    Profit after tax from continuing operations (profit after tax excluding restructuring costs, discontinued operations and net loss on disposal of non-core assets) for 1Q2015 totalled €57 mn, compared to a loss of €107 mn for 4Q2014.

    Group customer deposits totalled €13.611 mn on 31 March 2015, compared to €13.169 mn on 31 December 2014. Group gross loans totalled €24,1 bn , compared to €23,8 bn on 31 December 2014. The L/D ratio improved to 138% on 31 March 2015, compared to 141% on 31 December 2014 and a high of 151% on 31 March 2014.

    In a written statement the Bank`s CEO John Patrick Hourican noted that the Bank against its strategic objectives during the first quarter, reduce ELA by €500 mn and continues to stabilise its deposit base while maintaining its capital position.

    “The loan to deposits ratio improved to 138%, partly because of the continuation of positive customer flows, which is evidence of the increasing trust and confidence of our customers. Furthermore, the improvement in the Bank’s core results continued, with profit after tax from continuing operations totalling €57 mn, compared to a loss of €107 mn for 4Q2014” he said.

    He added that the bank`s significantly strengthened capital position and overall improvement in its financial position enhance its funding options and will facilitate access to the capital markets, especially following the recent successful debt raising by the Republic of Cyprus. As he said, depending on market conditions and investor appetite, the Bank will assess the possibility of raising wholesale funding, with the proceeds of such funding used to reduce ELA.

    Hourican also pointed out that the adoption of the foreclosure legislation and insolvency framework is a significant step in enabling the Bank to tackle its delinquent loans and improve asset quality.

    “Through specific, deliberate and well-timed actions we are delivering a stronger, more focused institution capable of supporting the recovery of the Cypriot economy”, he said.

    He added that as the leading financial institution in Cyprus, the Bank’s financial performance is highly correlated to the economic and operating conditions in Cyprus and will benefit significantly from the economic recovery.


  • Bulgarian Politicians Strongly Object to EC’s Immigrants Relocation Proposal

    Sofia/Brussels, May 29 (BTA) – Representatives of the Patriotic Front and the Reformist Bloc on Friday expressed strong objections against a proposal made by the European Commission on Thursday about the relocation of illegal immigrants in the EU member states, according to which Bulgaria is supposed to receive an additional 788 immigrants, including 572 from Italy and Greece. Some politicians even suspected lobbying on the part of European Commissioners Federica Mogherini and Dimitris Avramopoulos. More…

  • Romania, Kazakhstan eyeing joint energy, industry, travel projects

    Romania and Kazakhstan want to develop joint projects in the areas of energy, industry, tourism, transportation, IT, agriculture, research and education, according to talks at the 11th session of the Romanian-Kazakh Inter-governmental Committee on Economic and Technical and Scientific Cooperation.

    At the meeting in Bucharest, State Secretary with Romania’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Tourism Bogdan Pandelica and Kazakhstan’s Deputy Minister of Energy Magzum Maratovich Mirzagaliev underscored the importance of high-level bilateral talks, while voicing a shared wish for development and diversification of the economic and commercial ties between the two countries, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Tourism (MECT) informs on Friday.

    The two officials appreciated the rising trends in the bilateral trade, pointing to a 60-per-cent surge in Romanian exports to Kazakhstan in 2014. Identifying solutions to shrink the existing bilateral trade deficit was an important element in the conversation between the two officials. The need to boost the business communities of the two countries through mutual visits was also highlighted. More…

  • President Iohannis is receiving Prince Charles on Sunday

    President Klaus Iohannis is going to receive Prince Charles this Sunday, at the Cotroceni Palace, the Presidential Administration informs.

    According to the source, the meeting is scheduled to take place at 17:30 (local time). More…

  • EU operation on metal theft takes place in Cyprus

    A joint European operation on metal theft took place last Wednesday in Cyprus, with the participation of 16 of the 27 EU member states of the EMPACT MOCG action.

    According to a press release issued Friday by the Cyprus police, Europol headquarters had the coordination of the operation which was attended by Police members, officials from the Department of Environment, Customs Department, Ministry of Labour and the SBA Police.

    The aim was to identify stealing of metals (copper, aluminum, iron, etc.), identification of means of transport used by the criminals and the identification of the place of sale and disposal of stolen goods as well as the investigation of other offenses.


  • Nicosia Mayor asks for President’s support in opening of crossing points

    Nicosia Mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis has submitted a letter to the Cypriot President in which he asks for the President`s support as regards the opening of crossing points for pedestrians in the within the walls Nicosia and one more crossing point for vehicles.

    According to a press release by the Nicosia Municipality, the letter was handed over last Saturday during President Anastasiades` and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci`s a stroll at Ledras Street in old Nicosia, across the divide.

    The same letter was handed over to the Turkish Cypriot leader by the so called mayor of occupied Nicosia, Mehmet Harmanci.

    The Mayor of Nicosia has asked President Anastasiades for his support for the opening of all crossing points for pedestrians in Nicosia – within the walls – and one more crossing point for vehicles in the eastern side of the city.

    In the letter it is noted that in the past ten months “we had the chance with Mr Harmanci to discuss various priorities for Nicosia and come up with a common agenda”, adding that “we believe that the opening of all crossing points can have a positive contribution in the cooperation between the people and can strengthen our joint efforts for economic, social and cultural revival of our town”.

    “High on the agenda is the opening of the Pafos Gate. The particular area where five religious communities of Cyprus coexist is very special and important”, it is pointed out, noting that if it is developed in the right way, it can constitute an example for multiculturalism and coexistence of religions.

    Furthermore, the letter notes that “we consider as very important the fact that in our effort we have the support of the five religious leaders of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, Mufti Talip Atalay, Armenian Archbishop Nareg Alemezian, Maronite Archbishop Joseph Soueif and Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Cyprus George Kraj”.

    Concluding, it is said that the Municipality of Nicosia believes that Nicosia can serve as an example of the realisation of the common vision for the peaceful coexistence, cooperation and respect of human rights in Cyprus.

    37% of the Republic of Cyprus` territory is occupied by Turkish troops since the Turkish invasion in 1974. UN led talks aiming at reunifying the island under a federal solution resumed this month.

    Cyprus is a full EU member state since 2004. Nicosia is the only divided capital in Europe.


  • President inaugurates ambitious project for storage and management of petroleum products

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades inaugurated Friday the VTT Vasilikos Ltd Terminal for the storage and management of petroleum products.

    “The VTT Vasilikos Ltd Terminal for the storage and management of petroleum products, which we are launching today, is in line with the VTTI B.V. Dutch company’s vision and also our own, to create a hub for trading petroleum products in the strategically important region of the Eastern Mediterranean,” said the President.

    The Terminal, he added, constitutes the springboard for development in the Vasilikos area and it is the largest private energy project ever constructed in the Republic of Cyprus until now.

    “It is a pioneering project since it is the first project of its kind, built in our region, aimed at transit trade,” the President pointed out.

    He explained that due to its strategic location, the Terminal connects the markets of Europe and the Black Sea with those of the Middle East and Asia, adding that its significance for the wider region becomes more salient due to the operation of large oil refineries in the Middle East and also the deliberations that are taking place for upgrading the Suez Canal so as to allow ships of larger capacity to pass by this strategic naval passage.

    The project has also helped the Government to overcome a longstanding problem in the city of Larnaka, with President Anastasiades saying that the oil facilities had been contributing, for decades, to the undermining of the city’s coastal front.

    Cyprus Organisation for Storage and Management of Oil Stocks concluded a three-year agreement with VTTV for the rental of storage space to maintain and manage the national oil stocks that are being kept at the Cyprus Petroleum Storage Company’s facilities.

    The President noted that the cost of storing the national stocks in that facilities will remain at the same level, while, at the same time, an opportunity has been created to repatriate the reserves Cyprus kept abroad, securing a strategic advantage in case of a sudden energy crisis.

    Furthermore, the President said, Vassilikos area can be utilized in the framework of the government`s energy policy in relation to natural gas reserves.

    “It is a project that will give impetus to our economy as we expect that, when all the designs are completed, it will provide opportunities for synergies, which will benefit all the companies that will be established in the area”, he said.

    He also noted that the neighbouring communities would also enjoy significant benefits from the stimulation of the local economy as well as from the creation of jobs, both in the construction phase of the projects as well as in the stage of their operation. He announced that the Council of Ministers approved a series of compensation measures for the benefit of the eight communities of the area, always in collaboration with the local leadership and in line with their demands.

    At the same time he said that the project, inaugurated Friday, constituted an economic achievement for Cyprus, as it has started in the middle of the economic crisis.

    “In periods of economic recession, projects of such magnitude are rarely if ever executed. But the VTTV company’s Terminal for the storage and management of petroleum products, a project of 300 million euros, is here and in operation, reminding everyone that Cyprus is not only standing on its feet but will move forward and reach the success it deserves”, he stressed.

    The Government he added, looks to the future with confidence, looking forward to economic growth soon.

    He said that the Ministry of Finance, in cooperation with the private sector, is processing and will soon announce adjustments which will further improve the tax framework, so as to provide facilities for the attraction of further investments from abroad.

    “We are determined to proceed to a substantial reform of the public sector, to the modernization of the state. We have a reform programme of our own, which includes a wide range of issues. Our goal is to ensure, through growth, thousands of new employment positions”, said the President.

    He added the Government`s reform programme entails the simplification of procedures for the licensing and operation of businesses, a new growth Legislation, which will include a process of accelerated licensing of strategic investments, a new regulatory and institutional framework for tourism and other vital sectors of the economy.

    He finally said that his aspiration was to be able to carry out soon the reform of the Cyprus economy, which will lead to a restart and growth.


  • PM Borissov Meets with Macedonian Opposition Leader Zaev

    Sofia, May 29 (BTA) – Speaking at a news conference following his meeting with Macedonian opposition leader Zoran Zaev here on Friday, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said: “We insist very much that the political crisis is resolved democratically and we are firmly against any talk about Macedonia’s federalization.”

    He added that Macedonia has Bulgaria’s support for joining the EU and NATO. The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov and Bulgarian Socialist Party deputy leader Yanaki Stoilov. More…zaev

  • Sinisa Dragin’s “The Forest” film presented in national premiere

    “The Forest” documentary, by Sinisa Dragin, is a film “about how art can influence politics,” said journalist and film critic Cristian Tudor Popescu on Thursday evening at Studio Cinema, where the first national screening of the production took place.

    “The Forest” Serbian-Romanian co-production starts from a real event: in 1947, Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito visited Romania for the first time. Its communist regime gave him, as a present, a painting from a great Romanian artist Ion Andeescu: “The Leafless Forest”.

    “It is a very good, very rare film,” Cristian Tudor Popescu said, adding that, in terms of style, in “The Forest” production there is “a combination that usually doesn’t work” — the journalistic demarche and the poetic dimension.

    He said that the story of “The Forest” is told in the manner of a reportage, “as it used to be done.” More…

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