Books on Greece
Area (sq km)
% of GDP
Update No: 098 - (01/07/05)
The fountainhead of democracy; Athens to Washington
Greek Prime Minister, Costas Karamanlis, recently visited the United States, a
visit that included a meeting with US President George W Bush at the White House
- the second such meeting in a year. If Athens was the origin of democracy and
of its forcible promotion to other states in Ancient Greece, as it was, why
should it not back its avatars today in the shape of the neo-cons in Washington?
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos noted that the premier first briefed
the president of the republic over results of his talks with US leadership,
followed by briefings of the country's political leaders. Roussopoulos
accompanied Karamanlis on his US visit.
During his regular press briefing, the spokesman highlighted Bush's comment of a
"strategic partnership" with Greece, as well as the latter's praise
for the two countries' bilateral cooperation. "We hadn't been accustomed
(in the past) to seeing such gestures, quite the opposite, I would say,"
ANA quoted Roussopoulos as saying.
Queried about closer ties with Washington vis-à-vis the fight against
international terrorism by Islamist groups, Roussopoulos said: "An
international effort has existed since the end of the 1980s to expand democracy.
Our country, which gave birth to democracy, has played a significant role in
this effort, both in the Balkans and in the wider Middle East region… Greece
considers that this effort should not be restricted only to the greater Middle
East, but should be of a longer duration and involve a greater geo-political
He added, "This initiative is developing in numerous ways, and it's a happy
coincidence that Greece has just concluded its successful chairmanship of the
Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation (BSEC) while at the same time
assuming the rotating presidency of the South East Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP).
Roussopoulos also stressed Athens' continuous efforts at ending the Balkan
peninsula's unfavourable portrayal as "Europe's powder keg."
Finally, Roussopoulos again emphasised Athens' disagreement with Washington's
abrupt recognition last November of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
as simply "Macedonia," a name sternly opposed by Athens and the only
remaining thorn in otherwise excellent Greek-Macedonian relations. "We
trust that the United States will buttress the United Nations' effort at finding
a solution (to the name issue)," he added. It is however most unlikely that
the US will do an 'about-turn' on this, to them, trivial issue, which Greece
alone is obsessed by.
Cabinet approves farm bill to spur growth
Greek Prime Minister, Costas Karamanlis, and his cabinet recently approved a
farm bill that aims to spur growth in the sector and align with the European
Union's new common agricultural policy. The wide-ranging legislation is destined
for parliament in the near future. "It will support young farmers, reduce
bureaucracy and deal with farmers' day-to-day problems," ANA quoted the
architect of the bill, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister, Evangelos
Basiakos, as saying. "A series of moves contained in the ruling New
Democracy party's manifesto will be implemented that target growth of the
agricultural economy," Basiakos told a news conference.
Among innovations in the bill are short-term, interest-free loans to aid
operational spending for young farmers in mountain and deprived regions of the
country, and medium-term lending in the same categories for the acquisition of
key equipment and machinery. Interest-free loans will also be awarded for the
purchase of farmland. In other categories, a loan-subsidy of 70% is to be
In addition, the bill will legally sanction the creation of agricultural
development centres around the country that the government has begun to set up
in line with EU policy from 2007. Each prefecture will open one centre,
employing a nationwide total of 325 farming specialists. Falling under the
jurisdiction of central regional authorities, the centres will provide
scientific, professional, technical and technological support for farmers, the
minister said. Services will also help farmers to keep up to date on European
sector programmes and adapt crop cultivation. One of many aids on offer are data
provision on the type, variety and quality of crops available to farmers.
Greece to host Eurovision in 2006
Greece will host Eurovision in 2006, since Helena Paparizou won the song
contest held on May 21st in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev with her song "My
Number One." Tourism minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said the song-fest,
watched by TV viewers in 39 countries, would help to promote Greece's image.
Athens did not profit as much as expected last year when it was in the world's
spotlight as the host of the 2004 Olympic Games, he added. For the Eurovision
song contest, Greece's public television did not skimp on supporting the
country's candidate, spending 500,000 Euro to cover the contest.
City of Athens to set up tourism agency
The Greeks naturally enough wish to promote tourism. Greece is a magnificent
country after all, with a legendary past and a fabulous future, so it hopes.
Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis recently submitted a proposal before the City
Council to establish a non-profit tourism development agency in collaboration
with the private sector, as part of efforts to raise the Greek capital's profile
as a year-round tourist destination.
According to a statement, the non-profit Athens Tourism and Economic Development
Agency will comprise City of Athens, Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
Hellenic Hoteliers Chamber, Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises, Hellenic
Association of Tourist and Travel agencies, and Hellenic Retailers Association.
Bakoyannis has presented the plans which account for the state of tourism in
Athens, the policies and achievements of other European cities and Olympic host
cities, as well as international tourism trends. The agency, which is in its
formative stages, will act as a platform of cooperation between all relevant
agencies and organisations in the Attica region, whose aims will be jointly
promoted. Of a total 350,000 Euro in start-up capital, the municipality has
contributed 300,000 Euro.
"The Olympic Games brought Athens to the forefront of international
attention, offering the city a unique promotional opportunity and the potential
to boost development. The city's new infrastructure and its successful hosting
of the games conveyed to the world the impression that Athens is a capital of
world-class standards," Bakoyannis said.
Airport passenger traffic up 13% during Easter period
The Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos recently reported a 13%
increase in passenger traffic during the Easter holiday period (from April 22nd
to May 8th) compared with the corresponding period last year. The airport said a
total of 772,292 passengers used the airport with regular and charter flights.
Domestic passenger traffic was up 6% (265,715), while international traffic
jumped 17% to 506,577 passengers. The airport said this year's figures were even
more spectacular, as both the Eastern and Western Churches celebrated Easter at
the same time in 2004.
Turkey's EU bid depends on good neighbourly relations
Greece said Turkey's bid to join the European Union depended on it showing good
neighbourly relations, Prime Minister, Costas Karamanlis said recently, New
"Turkey's course toward European Union accession largely depends on its
actions. It is bound to develop good neighbourly relations and adopt peaceful
provisions in its foreign policy," Karamanlis said. He called for Ankara to
"make efforts to solve the Cyprus problem."
Cyprus has been divided into a Greek Cypriot controlled south and Turkish
Cypriot north since 1974, when Turkey invaded the northern third of the island
in response to a coup inspired by the junta then ruling Greece.
Greece has supported Turkey's bid to join the EU although it says the final
decision must take into account Turkey's behaviour toward its neighbours.
Karamanlis said other necessary reforms included the reopening of the Orthodox
theological school on an island off Istanbul. Turkish authorities closed it in
Speaking before parliament, Foreign Minister, Petros Molyviatis said Greece's
good diplomatic relations needed to be followed through on a military level.
George Papandreou, main opposition leader and a former foreign minister, accused
the government of supporting Turkey's bid without getting anything in return.
"It's no accident that we are seeing airspace violations during this
period," he said.
NATO allies Greece and Turkey have nearly come close to war three times since
1974, and remain at odds over territorial rights in the Aegean, with Greece
saying its national airspace extends 10 miles (16 kilometres) and Turkey
recognising only 6 miles (10 kilometres).
President meets foreign leaders during Moscow visit
Greek President of the Republic, Karolos Papoulias, had brief discussions with
foreign leaders at the Kremlin recently, during an official dinner held by
Russian President Vladimir Putin for the heads of state and government attending
celebrations marking the 60th anniversary since the end of World War II in
Among those meeting Papoulias were United States President, George Bush, Cyprus
President, Tassos Papadopoulos, Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
and United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Anna. Present at each of these
meetings was Deputy Foreign Minister, Panagoitis Skandalakis.
The Greek president described his contacts in Moscow as "interesting,"
while noting that it was his duty as head of state to promote the country's
interests whenever the opportunity arose. Papoulias also referred to the medal
awarded to him by Putin for his resistance action during WWII. "Today was a
great day, not just for Europe but for the entire world, for all those who stood
up against the tyranny and barbarity of the Nazis and Fascists. The honour done
to me was an honour for the entire Greek resistance, for those who fought in the
mountains and the towns, for the heroic people of Athens and the resistance
fighters, regardless of their political alignments. For the universal Greek
resistance, which was among the most heroic in Europe. For this reason, as
president of the Republic, I feel proud and moved," he said, ANA reported.
Avramopoulos visits Egypt
Greek Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos recently completed an official
visit to Egypt by meeting with the country's President, Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo.
The 45-minute meeting reaffirmed the very good level of relations between the
two countries. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Avramopoulos said both
countries agreed to further promote bilateral relations in all sectors,
particularly in tourism, and stressed that the "two peoples can cooperate
in tourism, and economy."
ANA News Agency quoted the Greek minister as saying further cooperation would be
discussed during his Egyptian counterpart's visit to Athens. He noted the common
comparative advantages both countries have in tourism, advantages that could
bring Greece and Egypt up to a leading position in the world tourism market.
Avramopoulos also met with representatives of the Greek community living in
Cairo and Alexandria and stressed the clear will of the Greek state to support
Greeks living in the Nile country. "For all of us, the Greek community in
Egypt, the community of Cairo and Alexandria, is known for its cultural and
spiritual activity dating back to 200 years," the Greek minister said.
Souflias outlines timetable for Egnatia
Ionnina, in northwestern Greece, will become an international road hub in the
coming years as two new cross-country highways, the Egnatia Way and the Ionia
Way, will cross each other in the area, it was reported recently. The Egnatia
Way motorway, the most complex road-building project to be undertaken in Greece
to date, is a modern closed motorway 680 kilometres long and 24.5 metres wide
over the greatest part of its length, running northeast to northwest across
Epirus and Northern Greece, from Igoumenitsa to Evros.
The project, which was tendered in 1999, is due to be completed in 2008, while
construction of the north-south Ionia Way motorway running along the country's
west will begin in April 2006, with completion slated approximately six years
after the commencement of work on the highway, Environment, Town Planning and
Public Works Minister, George Souflias announced recently, speaking in Ionnina.
Souflias conferred with the Epirus region authorities, accompanied by his Deputy
Minister, Stavros Kaloyannis and Ministry Secretary General, George Tryfonidis.
ANA quoted Souflias as saying that apart from the stretches of Egnatia Way
currently under construction, the tendering procedures for the remaining works
on the motorway, budgeted at 250m Euro, would be completed by September this
year. As for the Ionia Way, the companies that will undertake its construction
under the system of self-financing, would set up shop between late March to
early April 2006, the minister said. He explained that all the interested
consortia had been provided in May with the studies and draft contract, so as to
submit their tenders by September. The evaluation process would take place in
December to select the companies that would construct the Ionia Way from
Antirrio in western Greece to the Engnatia hub in Ionnina.