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Costas Stephanopolous

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Greece achieved its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, it gradually added neighbouring islands and territories with Greek-speaking populations. Following the defeat of communist rebels in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. A military dictatorship, which in 1967 suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country, lasted seven years. Democratic elections in 1974 and a referendum created a parliamentary republic and abolished the monarchy; Greece joined the European Community or EC in 1981 (which became the EU in 1992). 

Update No: 065 - (26/09/02)

The Greeks are a very different people from the Northern Europeans, with their reserve and decorum. For the Greeks express their feelings with little restraint and believe in acting them out in deeds.
This has given them a turbulent and volatile history, with civil war and strife not far from the surface in the mid-twentieth century. They are also adventurers and entrepreneurial, with a record of throwing up oil tycoons and a wily traders, spread out across the ex-Turkish empire in the Balkans and Asia Minor, as well as the wider world, where for a long time they dominated international shipping.
The most recent occasion of their waywardness has come with protests by consumers at price rises, following the introduction of the Euro. Throughout Euroland prices have been rising, as sellers hoist them as much as they dare. A switch of currencies is usually an invitation to inflation. In early September shops were empty as prices rose by up to 200% on some items. 
It does not help that the official price index fails to register a lot of them. For it maintains that inflation of consumer prices just inched up to 3.5% in August on an annual basis from 3.3% in July. The population are convinced that this is nonsense.
The government is determined to make a success of Greece's membership of Euroland. The chances of it doing so depend heavily on the decisions made by the European Central Bank in coming months.

Success against terrorism
One bright spot is that the terrorists in 'November 17,' an organisation of the far left dedicated to killing US and UK personnel and Greek businessmen has been largely and probably fatally broken. Their Athens headquarters has been raided and 16 operatives apprehended and charged.
It is speculated that November 17 may have had 'protection' from certain high-ups in the Socialist party PASOK, ruling Greece for most of the last twenty years. The new mood post-9:11 was fit for a successful prosecution of the campaign against them. The last thing Greeks would want is to be thought as soft on terrorists at this time when they are to host the next Olympic Games.

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Autohellas to import Korean navigation system

Geographical information solution developer, Thinkware System, has announced it will begin shipping navigation software worth US$1.2m annually to Greek car audio maker, Autohellas. The navigation system automatically guides drivers to their destination with the assistance of an input city map that recognises major buildings and streets. The contract gives further proof of Korea's technology ability in the geographical information system (GIS), an official of the geographical solution firm stated, quoted by The Korea Herald.

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Bank of Athens eyeing expansion

The strength of Greek parent, National Bank of Greece, has enabled South African Bank of Athens to survive the crisis in the small banking sector. Now, the bank is planning expansion in the small business market.
Alongside Mercantile Lisbon Bank, also in retail banking, the Bank of Athens, which has traditionally targeted South Africa's Hellenic community, is now one of the only small retail banks left in the country.
International ratings agency, Fitch, recently assigned the bank a national short-term rating of F1 plus and long-term rating of double A minus. The short-term rating was on a par with that of South Africa's large banks. This is the first time Fitch has rated the Bank of Athens, which has posted losses over the past three years. The agency said the new ratings reflected the bank's reliance on support from its Greek parent. Fitch explained that performance by the Bank of Athens had been "under strain due to a lack of focus, poor risk management and management inefficiency."
This has resulted in high levels of non-performing loans, a high cost structure and low operating profits, Hoover's reported. However, the parent bank has given full support for a move to restructure under new management.

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Greek firms to finance Macedonia-Kosovo pipeline

Construction of a pipeline to connect the capital of Macedonia, Skopje, to the Kosovo city of Uroshevac, is to be financed by Greek companies. Quoting the Greek daily 'Imersia,' Focus reported that the length of the pipeline will extend some 60 kilometres and will be used for the transportation of petrol and diesel fuel. The value of the project amounts to some US$30m, while construction works are slated to last about two years.
Greek firm Elenika Petrelea, owner of Skopje's OKTA refinery, intends to lengthen the pipeline by 40 kilometres to Pristina and construct another 50 kilometre pipeline to Yugoslavia's Nis city.

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Simitis confident of topping 3.8% growth target set for 2002

Greek Prime Minister, Costas Simitis, in a speech marking the Annual Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, said he saw growth overtaking a target of 3.8% for this year, accelerating to more than 4% in the coming years.
"Despite a difficult set of circumstances globally, it seems that not only will Greece attain an anticipated growth rate of 3.8%, but will also exceed the target this year," Athens News Agency quoted the premier as saying. "And in the years to come, growth will move above 4%," he added.
Factors that would maintain and accelerate existing high growth are viewed as national development and investment plans together with European Union funds and projects for the Olympic Games to be hosted by the capital in 2004.
Furthermore, private capital from both Greece and abroad will act to boost investments under the government's privatisation plan and its deregulation of markets. The latter measure includes energy and telecoms.
In addition, domestic industries are undergoing extensive restructuring-another fact that will help boost growth. "Guaranteed growth rates of the Greek economy have rendered the climate more favourable for new investments and further business activity, while continuing structural changes in the private and public sectors are contributing to an improvement in competitiveness, also boosting employment," Simitis said.

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Coca-Cola HBC exceeds target with remarkable H1 results

Coca-Cola Hellinic Bottling Company SA (CCHBC) has exceeded performance expectations in first half earnings. The world's second largest bottler of the Coca-Cola Company enjoyed a strong boost in developing and emerging markets despite poor weather conditions at the peak of summer - a traditional key selling period. In addition, profits are up thanks to lower-than-expected financial costs following the firm's debt refinancing in April this year.
The company is confident of attaining full-year targets of 14-16% earnings before interest, depreciation, tax and amortisation (EBIDTA) growth and 6-8% sales volume growth. "There will obviously be some impact on sales in the third quarter from this summer's poor weather, but we maintain our full-year targets for 2002," Managing Director, Irian Finan stated.
The shares of CCHBC, which serves a population of more than 500 million across 26 countries, are listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, with secondary listings on the London and Sydney Stock Exchanges. Finan, in his review, noted: "I an pleased to report that the group has achieved strong performance in each of the first two quarters, with results in the second quarter continuing to build on progress made in the first quarter. We continue to see balanced volume growth across our segments and more importantly a significant increase in the profitability of our business."
CCHBC reported a rise in net profit to 16.9m Euro from 200,000 Euro, outdoing market predictions that previously forecast a rise to 10m Euro. Finan's comments are supported by evidence of strong sales growth in both emerging and developing markets pushing EBITDA up 17% to 291.1m Euro from 248.7m Euro. The bottler attributes the positive results to increased production, distribution of existing products, and the addition of new products.
In the six months ended June 2002, group volume totalled 613 million unit cases, up 18% on a reported basis and up 7% on a constant territory basis. Russia, CCHBC's biggest emerging market, welcomed 19% higher sales over the review period to 67 million cases .
"Growth for the first half was driven by the successful focus on our portfolio of CSD, juice and water brands. Volume in the second quarter was 144 million cases, ahead of 2001 by 3%," the top executive stated, adding, "We continue to believe our developing markets will deliver volume growth in line with our long-term objectives."

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Bouygues works out tube financing problems

French Ambassador to Athens, Jean-Maurice Ripert, said France's Bouygues company, contractor for the Thessaloniki Tube, informed him that the majority of problems surrounding the projects financing have been resolved. Minister of Macedonian Thrace, Giorgos Paschalidis, attended the press conference where he stressed the government's continuing will to construct the tube.
In the mean time, seven companies have noted interest within the deadline for the first phase in the section of the tender for the "Research, Construction, Financing, Maintenance and Utilisation of the Thessaloniki Underwater Artery."
According to MPA, the project, with a total budget of 322m Euros, will be completed with a transfer contract, while the Greek public sector will contribute 58m Euros and another 14m Euros.

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