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Dignitaries arrive for official assumption of Greek EU presidency

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras welcomes EU Commission President Juan Manuel Barroso at Zappeion Hall on Wednesday.

Top European Union officials arrived in Athens on Wednesday to attend a series of events marking Greeces assumption of the EUs rotating presidency. An official ceremony was expected to take place at the Athens Concert Hall on Wednesday evening.

EU Commission President Juan Manuel Barroso and Olli Rehn, Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Economic and Monetary Affairs, were among foreign dignitaries who arrived at Athens International Airport on Wednesday in view of the festivities.

Also attending the ceremony at the Athens Concert Hall was Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians.

Greek main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras was not expected to attend the official ceremony.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Barroso were expected to give a joint press conference at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said that he believed Athens would reach an agreement with its international lenders on two pivotal issues during the country's EU presidency on how to cover a funding gap for the next two years, estimated at about 14 billion euros as well as the nature of the debt relief that the country has been lobbying for.

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday Jan 8, 2014 (13:49)  
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