• Work on the Bulgarian-Serbian Interconnector Is Accelerated

    Sofia, January 19 (BTA) – Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova and Serbia’s Minister of Energy and Mining Aleksandar Antic signed a memorandum of understanding on the project for the construction of the Bulgaria-Serbia interconnector.Thereby, the two sides agree to pay maximum efforts in order to begin the construction of the interconnector by May 2019 at the latest, so that it could be set into operation by the end of 2020. More…


  • Three Romanian nationals in hotel hit by avalanche in Italy, rescue ops underway

    Romania’s Embassy in Rome, has received information according to which three Romanian nationals – one adult, two persons under age – could be in the hotel that has been hit by an avalanche in Farindola, the Abruzzo region of Italy, on Thursday informs in a release, at the request of AGERPRES, the Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE).

    Romania’s Embassy in Rome has urgently contacted the local authorities to get additional information.

    At the same time, the Romanian Embassy in Italy and the General Consulate of Romania in Bologna monitor the situation, keeping permanently in touch with the local authorities, being prepared to grant consular assistance if necessary, the MAE adds.

    According to the source, the rescue operations are underway, but hampered by the severe weather conditions and the damage caused by the avalanche upon the building.

    The MAE reminds that the Romanian citizens affected could ask for consular assistance by dialing the following numbers of the Romanian Embassy in Rome: (0039) 06 835 233 58, (0039) 06 835 233 56, (0039) 06 835 233 52; (0039) 06 835 233 44 and of the General Consulate of Romania in Bologna: (0039) 051 5872120, (0039) 051 5872209, their appeals being redirected to the Support and Contact Centre of the Romanian citizens Abroad (CCSCRS) and taken over by the call centres’ operators on a permanent basis or could dial the diplomatic mission’s emergency number: (0039) 3451473935 or the consular office’s: (0039) 349 1178220. More…

  • President-elect Rumen Radev Takes Oath of Office in Parliament

    Sofia, January 19 (BTA) – Bulgaria’s newly elected President and Vice President, Rumen Radev and Iliana Iotova, took the oath of office in the National Assembly on Thursday. Radev said: “EU and NATO membership is a strategic choice which must not be questioned.” He stressed that effective membership requires an awareness and consistent protection of the national interest in both families. Bulgaria’s foreign policy should be formulated inside the country and defended abroad, not vice versa; it should be open to the world and win friends and partners, not enemies, he said. More…1901

  • Prosecutor General on pardon: We encourage citizens’ correct conduct, but someone comes and shifts direction

    Romania’s Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar told AGERPRES on Thursday that there is a concern feeling among prosecutors in respect to the pardon draft, and in the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) the general idea on this topics is negative.

    “There is a concern feeling, because since we joined the European Union we have been preparing to consolidate the rule of law through a correct public conduct, encouraging a correct conduct of the citizens, and now someone comes, who, surprisingly, shifts the direction and would want us to adopt another position, of clemency,” Augustin Lazar said.

    He said that in the Superior Council of Magistrates the general idea was negative in respect to the pardon draft.

    “I couldn’t tell you right now what kind of opinion there will be, there is a debate in the CSM, however the general idea was negative in respect to this draft, which isn’t meant to encourage Justice and magistrates nor a correct public conduct in Romania. Our position has been blunt, of rejection. We don’t need clemency acts, we need acts of consolidating the Romanian institutions fighting against crime, corruption, conflict of interest. Unfortunately, we see that the text of the law incriminating the conflict of interest has also been modified. It is practically a decriminalization. We will no longer be able to prove that someone has been in a conflict of interest situation if the text remains as it is now. (…) In a few days’ time, we shall have a new point of view and we shall explain that it is wrong to place a private interest of a group of persons, interested in benefiting from this draft, above the public interest,” Augustin Lazar explained.

    The Prosecutor General also said that at the meeting he has recently had with Justice Minister Florin Iordache the latter didn’t tell him about the pardon draft or the modifications to the Criminal Code. More…

  • Bank of Cyprus shares commence trading on the London Stock Exchange

    The shares of Bank of Cyprus Holdings Public Limited Company commenced trading on the Main Market for listed securities of the London Stock Exchange (“LSE”) and trading on the Main Market of the Cyprus Stock Exchange (“CSE”) on Thursday.

    According to an announcement, issued by the BoC, trading commenced on the CSE and the LSE at 10:30am (Cyprus time) and 8:00am (London time), respectively.

    The announcement notes that the listing on the LSE is expected to improve the liquidity of the Group’s stock, which will enhance the Group’s visibility and lead to a broader base of investors capable of supporting the Group in the long-term. This will further enhance the confidence of all stakeholders in the Group.

    This is another significant milestone in the execution of the Group’s strategy to become a stronger, safer and more focused institution capable of delivering appropriate shareholder returns over the medium term. It follows the Group’s successful return to the debt capital markets and the full repayment of Emergency Liquidity Assistance funding since the start of 2017.

    The announcement adds that HSBC Bank plc acted as adviser to the London listing and Cyprus Investment and Securities Corporation Limited (“CISCO”) as the lead manager in relation to the listing in Cyprus. Sidley Austin acted as English and US legal advisers, and Chryssafinis & Polyviou LLC acted as Cypriot legal advisors, to the Group.

    Chairman of BOC Holdings Dr. Josef Ackermann said that is a tremendous achievement. “We expect this listing, on one of the world’s leading international markets, to facilitate greater profile, liquidity and market access”.

    He added that “the listing of BOC Holdings on the LSE enables us to fulfil a long-standing commitment to shareholders.” It also constitutes an additional major milestone in the transformation of the Group and its strategy to enhance its financial strength, he noted.

    “We welcome the increased engagement with market participants and meeting the highest standards in corporate governance and transparency,” he added.

    “The Group will act as a flag carrier for Cyprus on international markets raising the country’s profile as a destination for foreign investment. We are grateful to our shareholders for their overwhelming support for the London listing and look forward to their continued support, as well as to welcoming new shareholders to BOC Holdings,” he concluded


  • Cyprus delegation in Mont Pelerin meets with Greek, British deputies

    The delegation of the Republic of Cyprus, at the level of deputies, met bilaterally on Wednesday with the British and Greek delegations in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland, prior to a working group meeting set to address the issue of security and guarantees, Government Spokesman Nikos Christodoulides said here today.

    According to Christodoulides, the aim of the meeting, which the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot delegations are also attending, is to draft a working document that will allow for the continuation of the Conference on Cyprus on a political level, with positive prospects for a conclusion.

    The UN hosted a Conference on Cyprus last week, as part of continuing efforts to solve the Cyprus problem and reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. The meeting decided to establish a working group on the level of deputies, to start work on January 18 and then the conference will continue on a political level.

    Speaking in Nicosia after a cabinet meeting, on Wednesday, Christodoulides said contacts at Mont Pelerin were expected to conclude this Friday, January 20.

    “We are in absolute coordination with the Greek government, both on procedural matters and even more so on issues of substance,” the Spokesman said. He added that the discussion will try to provide answers on very concrete questions in relation to the chapter of security and guarantees in general. Moreover, he said he hoped that the conference will continue at a political level thereafter, with positive prospects.

    Invited to comment on statements from the Turkish side, Christodoulides responded that “we are at the negotiating table” and while statements made publicly may help or harm efforts with the ongoing dialogue, they do not determine the outcome.

    “The fact that we are now sitting at the same table, facing the Turkish delegation, to talk about the outcome of this discussion is what will largely determine the way the process may go further,” the Government Spokesman underlined.

    The discussion on the level of deputies is significant, but “important decisions will have to be taken on a political level” he went on. According to Christodoulides, the working group will not be taking any decisions concerning the future process or the substance of the discussion.

    Asked about a possible date of the next political meeting, he said there was no date as of yet and added that “we expect to see the results” and decide accordingly.

    The discussion of other chapters, pertaining to the internal aspects of the Cyprus issue, will be continued on the island after the conclusion of discussions in Geneva, Christodoulides also said.

    The Government Spokesman had earlier on Wednesday a meeting with the US Ambassador in Cyprus and said that they discussed both Geneva as well as the incoming US administration.

    He also said that the President is expected to hold a telephone conversation with US Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday afternoon, as well as with other European officials by the end of this week.

    During the next two weeks, he went on, the President of Cyprus will address PACE plenary in Strasbourg, where he will inform members of the Assembly and of the Council of Europe about Cyprus talks, and later on he will attend a summit of Mediterranean EU countries, in Portugal.

    On Thursday, President Anastasiades will meet with his Greek counterpart, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who is paying a visit in Cyprus at the invitation of Archbishop Chrysostomos.


  • At End-of-Term News Conference, Outgoing President Calls for More Justice in Bulgaria

    Sofia, January 18 (BTA) – Outgoing President Rosen Plevneliev and Vice President Margarita Popova gave a joint news conference on Wednesday towards the end of their five-year term in office.

    Plevneliev said that urgent action is necessary to ensure more justice in Bulgaria. According to him, justice is the main issue nowadays. He said: “We are all indebted to our people. We are all responsible for the low confidence which the citizens place in the courts, the prosecution service, the institutions. We need solutions and results.” More…


  • Grindeanu: Does Constitution allow pardon and amnesty? Yes, therefore they don’t contradict law

    Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu on Wednesday said that in the Government meeting “the things communicated in due time” were discussed, pointing out that, according to the Constitution, “we are allowed to grant pardon and amnesty,” therefore these things “aren’t against the law.”

    However, the added that these topics weren’t discussed “regardless of President Iohannis’ presence,” as they weren’t on the meeting agenda.

    “According to the Constitution, are we allowed to grant pardon and amnesty? Does the Constitution say we are allowed (…) to do this? yes. Therefore they aren’t against the law. (…) I believe that it is as constitutional as President Klaus Iohannis came to chair the Government meeting, it is as constitutional, with the observance of the law, to issue an emergency ordinance in all the areas the law allows us to. As it wasn’t on the agenda communicated from time to you (…) which we had yesterday in the working folder, we couldn’t adopt matters on additional points,” the PM told journalists.

    He pointed out that neither the conflict of interest nor the abuse of office will be decriminalized, but “these things will be clarified from the perspective of the Justice Ministry, in accordance with the Constitutional Court decisions.”

    “Any decision of the Constitutional Court is mandatory. We cannot pretend we don’t have it. This clarification which the Justice Ministry is making now and sending to public debate is the Justice Ministry’s perspective,” Grindeanu said.

    The PM explained that it concerns two proposals of the Justice Ministry — one regarding pardon, “which doesn’t include corruption offenses and violence or organised crime offenses,” and the other one — the transposition of a European directive on the citizens’ rights to a fair trial.

    The Prime Minister maintained that the discussion he had with Klaus Iohannis wasn’t related to pardon and the modification of the criminal codes, but that it was only a question of the head of state referring this topic.

    “The discussion [with Klaus Iohannis] wasn’t regarding what you are saying. It was a question of the President if these drafts are on the agenda. I assured him that these drafts are not on the agenda and that all things I have mentioned earlier will be covered, namely (…) these proposals of the Justice Ministry were sent this morning to the Superior Council of Magistrates and all the other institutions,” the PM told journalists.

    Referring to pardon and the amendment of the codes, he pointed out that these things can be done either by emergency ordinance or in Parliament. More…

  • Cyprus President Anastasiades underlines positions of principles remain intact

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades said positions of principle and decisions that concern the procedure of the talks on Cyprus are two separate issues.

    In a speech on Tuesday in Nicosia during the IMH-IN Business Awards, President Anastasiades said he wants to assure everyone that no one should be worried as regards the positions of principles in the negotiations.

    He appealed to all during these critical hours to be united to achieve the common goal which is to rid the country of the occupation and reunite it, creating conditions of peaceful coexistence with Turkish Cypriots.

    For the first time, he said, since 1964, during the talks we are discussing the abolition of guarantees and the withdrawal of the occupation army.

    “I would like to make it clear. That decisions that concern the procedure are one thing and positions of principle that need to be maintained in the negotiations are another. I want to assure everyone that no one should be worried as regards the positions of principle”, the President said.

    We are making efforts to show the determination of the Greek Cypriot side to achieve, at last, a solution that will correspond to the expectations not only of the Greek Cypriots but to all of the people”.

    He said that he will be in Portugal to attend a meeting with the seven leaders of Mediterranean countries and in Strasbourg to address the Council of Europe. He will also attend the European Council in Malta.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have been engaged in UN-led talks since May 2015 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.

    Participants in the Conference on Cyprus held on January 12, in Geneva, decided to establish a working group at the level of deputies, with the task to identify specific questions and the instruments needed to address them, a statement issued from the Conference on Cyprus said.

    According to the statement issued, the group will commence its work on 18 January and the Conference will continue at political level immediately thereafter to review the outcome of the working group’s discussions. In parallel, the negotiations on outstanding issues in the other chapters will continue between the two sides in Cyprus.


  • Iohannis at Gov’t meeting: I discussed with the PM; I am pleased with how you do your job

    President Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday he had, before the Government meeting, a “very applied” discussion with Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, and the head of state told the Government members that he is very pleased with how they do their job.

    “We have a first today. It is the first time I participate in a Government meeting. I have decided this morning to pay a visit to Mr Prime Minister. We had a very applied, serious talk, with consensual conclusions, after which Mr Prime Minister invited me to participate and preside this Government meeting,” Iohannis said in the beginning of the Government meeting.

    He said that it is “a pleasure and an honour” to be in the meeting together with the Government members.

    “Allow me to tell you I am very pleased with the manner in which you all do your job and to me it is not only a pleasure, but also an honour to be here with you. In respect to the conclusions of the discussion I had with Mr Prime Minister earlier, I would like to let him detail these things,” the head of state added. More…

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