Books on Greece
Area (sq km)
% of GDP
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: 086 - (30/06/04)
The Greeks are desperate right now. They need to complete the works for the Olympic Games by the beginning of August, ahead of the opening of the Games on August 13th. It is a frantic business, with people working throughout the night.
They will surely succeed. There is simply too much dependent on them not to.
The first post 9:11 Olympic Games
There is an appropriate irony in the fact that the Greeks are the hosts in the first post-9:11 Olympic Games. The original Olympics, started way back in 776 BC, had a geopolitical rationale in promoting peace. A truce was declared for the duration of the Games, which gave diplomats the chance to negotiate peace treaties between combatants, represented at the Games.
The modern Greeks, a very different ethnic affair than the Ancient Greeks, are naturally adamantly opposed to the liberation of Iraq from Saddam's tyranny. They would much prefer the tyrant to still be in charge. They knew where they stood with him, on the right side of the moral ledger. Who knows what the liberation of the Iraqi people is going to produce?
Making a success of the Olympics has become the overriding priority for the centre-right New Democracy government that took power after the March 7 general election.
Under a drive to make up for the lost time, Costas Karamanlis, the new prime minister - the nephew and namesake of the old political campaigner - took the helm of the culture ministry responsible for building sports venues and media facilities.
The popularity of Mr Karamanlis's government was confirmed in resounding fashion at the European parliament elections. New Democracy finished ahead of the Socialists by as much as 8.6 percentage points, almost double the margin of victory in March.
Yet Mr Karamanlis has been careful to avoid sounding triumphalist. He has resisted the temptation to confront the Socialists over the cost of the Games. To keep the public sector trade unions on board, all discussion of economic reform is on hold until the Games are over.
With his low-key demeanour and comfortable command of English, Mr Karamanlis is better equipped than many Greek politicians to survive this most testing of summers.
In the run-up to August 13, Mr Karamanlis' hardest tasks will be to manage intermittent tension with Washington over issues of Olympic security and to deflect public criticism of Greece's preparedness for the Games from an increasingly anxious IOC.
Construction of Turkish-Greek gas pipeline to begin this year
Construction of natural gas pipeline between Turkey and Greece is expected to start at the end of this year. Issuing a statement on June 10th, the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources said that Turkish Pipeline Transportation Corp (Botas) Director-General, Mehmet Bilgic, and Greek Public Gas Corporation SA (DEPA) Executive Board Chairman, Raphael Moissis, met in Istanbul recently and reviewed preparations for Turkey-Greece natural gas pipeline construction and estimated trade volume, Anatolia News Agency reported.
The statement said the sides had agreed to use pipes of 36 inches in diameter, setting out the starting date of construction. It said that studies in the Turkish and Greek territories would start simultaneously and advance through the west in Greece and through the east in Turkey. EU donation financed the 50 per cent cost of the feasibility and engineering etudes of the Turkey-Greece Natural Gas Pipeline Project which was initiated under interconnection of natural gas networks between Turkey and Greece and realization of first phase of Southern Europe Gas Ring. Regarding the project, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister, Hilmi Guler, and Greek Development Minister, Dhimitrios Sioufas, signed natural gas trade agreement in Ankara on 23rd February 2003. Under the project, the pipeline will be 300 kilometres in total length - 209 km part of it will be on Turkish border - is planned to be finalized in 2006. Under the agreement, transfer will start at 750m cubic meters gas.
DEH Q1 profits exceed forecasts
Greece's dominant energy producer Public Power Corporation (DEH) announced recently that its first-quarter net profit rose 11%, exceeding market expectations. Net profit was 115.6m compared with 104.6m. A Dow Jones consensus of analysts forecasted a 6% rise in net profit to 111m. DEH said there was a slowdown in the rate of consumption growth in the first quarter owing to a milder winter in Greece compared with the first quarter last year.
However, the company said it improved its earnings, despite the slowdown, by increasing exports and raising operating efficiency levels as well as cutting costs. Revenue rose to 1.04bn, from 953.2m, with revenue from energy exports alone rising over 9%. Analysts had predicted a 7% rise in overall revenue.
Revenue growth helped boost earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), which rose over 12% to 375.1m, against 333.9m, thus beating analysts' forecasts of a 6% rise in EBITDA for the same period last year.
Upon presentation of the corporation's results, Deutsche Bank upgraded its rating on DEH's shares to buy from hold. "This relies on the assumption that we will not make any revision in estimates," Deutsche said in a research note, The Reporter newswire reported.
HP mulls Azeri oil investment
Hellenic Petroleum, Greece's leading oil group, is to hold high-level talks in Azerbaijan about investing in oil and gas production there, ANA cited officials as saying recently. According to the report, executives from the company, which is 58% owned by the Greek state, will travel to Azerbaijan together with Greece's President Costis Stephanopoulos, to carry out a state visit. "They will be talking about buying Azeri oil and also possible involvement in Azerbaijan (production) projects," Greece's Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mercourios Karafotias said at the annual Caspian Oil and Gas conference in the Azeri capital, ANA cited Kathimerini daily as reporting. The Greek president sent a message to the conference which said the forthcoming talks "will mark the beginning of a new era in Greek-Azeri energy cooperation."
FOOD & DRINK
Coca-Cola HBC boasts strong start in 2004
Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co (HBC) reported a strong start for the first three months of the year ending April 2nd, New Europe reported recently.
The leading bottling group in Greece reported significant improvement in its operating profit for the first quarter, to 15m, against 2m managed a year earlier. Earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were up 17% to 112m, against 2003.
Commenting on the results, Managing Director of Coca-Cola HBC, Doros Constantinou, said such a strong kick-off gives the group increasing confidence for the full-year and, with the continued momentum in the second quarter: "We expect our full-year performance to meet the upper half of our previously communicated guidance.
"The improvement in profitability during the first quarter is particularly satisfying, especially as it resulted from good volume growth across all segments, effective implementation of pricing initiatives and continuing progress in cost management."
Chief financial officer Bill Douglas has decided to withdraw from the group's management. "Mr Douglas, who has spent the last 13 years in various senior positions within the Coca-Cola system in Europe, will be leaving the company in July, having effected a smooth and efficient hand-over. Mr Douglas will be joining Coca-Cola Enterprises, the largest bottler of the Coca-Cola system," the statement said. Nik Jhangiani will replace Douglas as the company's CFO.
Commenting on the new appointment, Constantinou predicted that "Nik will prove to be as successful in the role as Bill has been."
MINERALS & METALS
Aluminium of Greece sales expand
Aluminium of Greece sales grew 5-6% in the first quarter of the year, while gross earnings increased 15-20%, sources in the company said recently. The company's management believes this trend will continue in the first-half 2004 results, The Reporter newswire reported.
Thessaloniki-Istanbul rail link on the cards
A new rail link will get under way in September to connect the cities of Thessanloniki (Greece) and Istanbul (Turkey). Greek Transport Minister, Nihalis Liapis, announced plans for the new rail link following a recent meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Binali Yildrim. Liapis said the new rail line, considered particularly important for Greece's railway network, will have trains equipped with sleepers and carriages for transporting cars.
Liapis informed Yildrim of the new developments being prepared by the Greek side and also discussed other issues concerning cooperation in transport, Athens News Agency reported.
The Greek minister attended the foundation ceremony for a new undersea rail tunnel that will link Europe with Asia starting in Istanbul. On the occasion of the ceremony, Liapis noted that Greece and Turkey had common interests regarding the development of road and rail links that will connect Europe with Asia.
Meanwhile, Athens Mayor, Dora Bakoyianni also attended the foundation ceremony for new undersea rail tunnel, as the guest of Istanbul metropolitan Mayor Kadir Topbas. Bakoyianni also had meetings with members of the Turkish government to discuss issues relating to preparations for the Olympics in Athens and cooperation between the City of Athens and the Istanbul metropolitan municipal authority.
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