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  GREECE

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq km)
130,800

Population
10,623,835

Capital
Athens

Currency
Drachma

President
Costas Stephanopolous

Private sector
% of GDP

over 60%

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Background:
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: 064 - (27/08/02)

The Greeks are at last making inroads against the terrorists in their midst. These are the November 17 group of far leftists, who have killed 23 people, prominent Greek politicians and businessmen and US and UK security and diplomatic personnel in over one hundred attacks since 1975 when the local CIA chief was shot down outside his house.
The success could not have come at a better time for the government. It is preparing for the major event of the 2004 Olympic Games to be held in Greece, including on Mount Olympus. They should be the most spectacular and well-publicised games of all, a months-long world-wide advertisement for Greece, including the big build-up to the event. Naturally security needs to be as tight as can be - and be seen to be so.
This is where the destruction of November 17 is so beneficial. The Greek police were having no success for years; and the complicity of members of Pasok, the socialist party in power for 17 of the last 20 years was widely suspected. Both November 17 and Pasok had fought the colonels' junta thirty years ago, forging links that may not have been broken by the two's respective militants. Nevertheless, one thing is extremely unlikely, that any Pasok figures will be incriminated.
The breaking of this vicious group came about by a leading member accidentally detonating a bomb which he was carrying, en-route to a planned atrocity. His survival and his identification led to a break-through.
The Athens headquarters of the terrorists has been busted and more than a dozen of them, including the leaders, arrested. Other terrorist groups may exist, and other cells of November 17. Time will tell. But at least something is being done and something dramatic and telling at that.

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ENERGY

Electricity linkage with Italy final


Greek Prime Minister, Costas Simitis, and his Italian counterpart, Silvio Berlusconi, inaugurated the electric power network linkage between Greece and Italy with satellite connections from their offices recently. The project, constituting Greece's first electric power linkage with the other European Union countries via Italy, concerns an underwater cable 163 kilometres long, submerged in the Ionian and Adriatic seas, and was the reason for the double celebration which took place simultaneously in Greece and Italy, ANA News Agency has reported.

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FINANCIAL NEWS

Greece feels the heat as Eruostat toughens stance


Greece is now dealing with the brunt of Eurostat's recent decision to toughen budget accounting rules. Gaining entry to the Eurozone over the past four years and balancing its budget mainly through the use of financial vehicles such as securitisation, the country was able to raise funds that did not show up as public debt due to the way they were structured.
Upon the EU's discovery of this loophole, Greece was left no choice but to add six billion Euros to its public debt figure. This had the effect of increasing it to a major 105 per cent of GDP for last year.
Revisions came at a sensitive time just as the country took over the Eurozone finance ministers group, known as Ecofin. Greece's Finance Minister, Nikos Christodoulakis, chairing the group's monthly meeting, now finds himself on the front line of Europe's budget battles.
The minister noted that "Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the stability pact provisions and their intention to achieve or maintain budgetary positions close to balance or in surplus over the economic cycle and to ensure that such medium-term objectives are respected by 2004 at the latest."
However, the Eurozone's newest member is now in jeopardy of violating those agreements according to AP. Although Greece has set its debt target at 97 per cent of GDP in 2002 from 105 per cent after the revision, it is unlikely the Adriatic state will make it in light of Eurostat's newest decision.

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MINERALS & METALS

Alumil, ASA Italia ink pact

Alumil SA, an aluminium extruder based in northern Greece, recently announced the signing of a commercial agreement with Italian automation manufacturer, ASA Italia Srl, which is a subsidiary of the French multinational SOMFY International. The agreement gives exclusive rights to the representation and sales of the ASA manufactured automations for Greece and the Balkans, while Aulmil also has the right to sell the products in other European markets along with its aluminium door, window and façade systems.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Communications Ministry signs up Schroder Salomon Smith Barney

A Communication and IT Ministry press release recently, revealed the signing of a contract for advisor services between the ministry and Schroder Salomon Smith Barney (SSSB) as advisor for completion of the privatisation process for Romtelecom, the Romanian fixed telephony operator.
Although the state still holds 65 per cent in the company, Greece's OTE, which bought some 35 per cent some years ago, still holds the power of decision for a 51 per cent stake by January 1st 2003. The advisor will analyse Romtelecom's situation and then draw up the strategy of further privatisation. SSSB was chosen against JP Morgan and SG Conseil Pays Emergents, on the basis of the technical and financial offer, Bluebull reported.
SSSB offered 1.65 per cent of the value attained by the ministry in the name of the Romanian State following the sale of shares directly and effectively, without a minimum amount.

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TOURISM

Greece eager over agrotourism deal

At the unveiling of an ambitious agro-tourism programme totalling 1.2bn Euros, Greek Prime Minister, Costas Simitis, stated: "We have the highest growth rate in the EU, but that's not enough for us." Following a meeting of the cabinet committee for the development of the countryside, Simitis informed reporters of the four axis government programme designed to promote agro-tourism in the country, Athens News Agency (ANA) reported.
These are: promoting tourist programmes in the five cities due to host Olympic Games events (Olympia, Thessaloniki, Volos, Patras, Hereclion); approving 125 integrated programmes envisaging tourist development in mountainous, island and underdeveloped regions of the country with emphasis given to Evors, Rodopi and Drama; implementing a certification programme for agricultural products; and, the immediate implementation of a LEADER+ programme to fund hotel infrastructure and other tourist events.

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