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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 173,000 132,834 117,200 27
GNI per capita
 US $ 13,720 11,660 11,430 45
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Greece


Area (sq km)





Private sector 
% of GDP
over 60%

Update No: 105 - (30/01/06)

Latest poll in Greece shows continued ruling party lead over main opposition
The new government is doing well in Greece, in the opinion of those who most matter, the people. Greek ruling New Democracy (ND) fielded a 2.5-point lead over main opposition PASOK, 42% to 39.5%, in the latest opinion poll unveiled on January 12th, the Greek ANA agency reported.
This is a considerable achievement for a party that has been in power for more than eighteen months now. In terms of smaller parties, 8% of respondents in the poll picked the Communist Party of Greece (KKE); 3.5% opted for the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) and 4.5% for the out-of-Parliament LA.OS party.
Regarding the question of who is more capable to govern, 49% of respondents chose Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis; 24% picked PASOK leader and former foreign minister George Papandreou, whereas 19% said neither. Again a very good rating for the incumbent.
On the question of which of the two major parties can best deal with the country's problems, ND was chosen by 33% of the respondents to 15% for PASOK. A majority, 38%, said neither. 
The agency comments that two other questions queried respondents on whether the ND government is keeping its pre-election promises and on whether the main opposition party is undergoing renewal.
Regarding the first one, 51% of the respondents said the government is "probably not" meeting its pre-election pledges; 26% it "probably is"; and 17% gave a mixed answer.
Finally, the disillusion with the socialists, who were in power for more than twenty years previously (bar the odd year or two), is clear. 53% of the respondents said they did not believe PASOK was undergoing a renewal; 27% said it was, and 6% gave a mixed answer. 

KKE leader holds talks with PM
The great trauma for Greece was the civil war of 1944-47, between the monarchists and the communists, the forerunners of the socialists. The former won. Queen Fredericka of Greece came to London in 1945 and persuaded Churchill to back the Greek monarchist cause. That was decisive.
This is the poignant fact behind the latest developments. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on January 11th called on Prime Minister Karamanlis, with whom she discussed the planned revision of the Constitution and the anti-communist memorandum currently before the Council of Europe.
After the one-hour meeting, Papariga said she asked the prime minister that the ruling New Democracy party's (ND) delegation at the Council of Europe vote against the "fascist memorandum", noting that the ND delegation had already voted against the memorandum at the Council of Europe's Political Committee. 
She further said that all political parties should reject the memorandum regardless of their ideological convictions and their own positions with respect to communist parties.
The KKE secretary general said that at stake was whether the people will have the right to struggle and pursue, and whether the communist parties will have the right to act and struggle for the rights of the people.
Papariga said that there were "powers that wish to put the people in a cast" with the draft resolution that was before the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.
She also expressed the KKE's opposition to the revision of the Constitution proposed by the government, explaining that her party opposed the revision "not because a revision is not necessary, but because the reactionary measures will be increased with the revision." She added, however, that when the proper time came, the KKE would state its position formally.
Regarding the Constitutional revision per se, the question was what direction it would take, Papariga said.
She said there existed reactionary laws which needed to be abolished, and referring to the issue of the alleged abduction and interrogation of Pakistanis, said "they were carried out under agreements that had been signed by the preceding (PASOK) government, which gave the right to the Americans and the British to act in our country."
Papariga said the KKE did not agree with observance of legality given that reactionary laws were being passed every day, stressing her party's position on the need for abolition of the reactionary laws.
There was no legality when the collective, but also the individual, rights of the citizens are violated, she said.

The economy is doing well
The secret of the success of the new government is that the economy is performing well, GDP growing along at nearly 4% per annum. 
Moreover, Greece will increase efforts to boost exports in 2006 amid the sector's increasing contribution to gross domestic product growth, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, said on January 12th. "The growth rate of exports in the first 10 months of 2005 rose faster than the nominal GDP growth, lifting the contribution of exports to GDP," Alogoskoufis said. "This constitutes a basic condition for the progress and development of the (Greek) economy," he added. 
Greek exports grew nearly 13% in the January-to-October period compared with the year-earlier period. 
Greece's 2005 budget estimated GDP growth at 3.6%, while the 2006 budget predicts a growth rate for this year of 3.8%. In 2006, Greece will participate in 81 international exhibitions and send 31 trade missions abroad, up from 38 and 16 respectively in 2005. 
Greece will also encourage Greek companies who aren't currently exporting to participate in trade missions that will promote products and services from all sectors, not just food and drink. The country will concentrate its efforts on key target markets including Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, Saudia Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US 
An olive oil export promotion programme is currently being developed for the Chinese market for the 2006 to 2010 period, ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and the 2010 Expo in Shanghai.

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OA expects increase in traffic

Olympic Airline's chairman, Petros Papageorgiou, recently expressed his confidence over the company's performance over the next few months. Speaking to reporters, Papageorgiou said he was fully confident that Olympic Airlines (OA) in its present form, would win the bet despite negative predictions made by its opponents, and would continue flying until a new company was established in 2006, New Europe reported.
OA's chief recently completed a tour in European countries and in the US to meet with foreign tour operators. Papageorgiou said the climate of his meetings was very positive. Olympic Airlines reported a 13 per cent increase in its international passenger traffic, while domestic passenger traffic rose by 1-1.5 per cent last year, compared with 2004.
Papageorgiou said OA's good performance in 2005 was achieved despite the fact that the Greek national airline operated with less aircraft compared with the previous year. He sounded optimistic over a new company to succeed Olympic Airlines - currently under formation - since "it will not carry with it sins of the past."
The Greek government has hired Sambre to draft a number of business plans for the new airline company with the aim that the new company is to be profitable. OA's chief executive, Odysseas Vlamis, expressed his optimism that the government would find the necessary private capital to create the new company. Vlamis said Olympic airlines would present its summer flight programme by the end of January.
Olympic Airlines is one of the safest airlines in the world, operating under very high standards. It is not just an airline company, but a national symbol that has to be safeguarded to continue operating. OA's chairman urged everyone to help in efforts to preserve the national carrier. 

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Sioufas on new ELPE electricity plant

Development Minister, Dimitris Sioufas, recently expressed his conviction that the first three days of operation of the electricity production plant of Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, showed "the good side of competition and the opening of the market with rules." At the same time, the minister stressed that ELPE's electricity production plant, "the first private one in the country, is very significant and reinforces stability and the safety of the system of the production of electricity energy in Greece." The development minister said that the situation in the deregulation of the electricity energy market will smooth out. The electricity production plant in Thessaloniki was expected to be officially inaugurated by Prime Minister, Costas Karamanlis. Meanwhile, Sioufas briefed Karamanlis on the tender which is expected to take place for another three new private electricity production plants of 900 MW. Sioufas said "the tender will be given for public consultation, in order for there to be complete transparency, but also for the safeguarding of public interest." Greece's first privately-owned power plant started operation on December 24th in Echedoros, Thessaloniki. The 390MW power plant, which produces electricity with the use of natural gas, is located in the Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) industrial complex in Echedoros municipality, Thessaloniki, and is the first private investments in electricity production in Greece following the deregulation of the electricity and natural gas market. The 250 million Euro plant, built by ELPE subsidiary 'Energiaki Thessalonikis S.A.', is considered one of the most important investments in the energy sector, and its operation is expected to contribute to rendering Thessaloniki an energy hub for SE Europe, and the region's linking with the trans-European energy networks. Sioufas hailed the opening of the plant as "a historic moment for the Greek energy market," adding that "the new plant provides new possibilities and prospects for the safety and stability of the system." He also said that the deregulation of the electricity and natural gas markets according to rules will create a new reality that will bring new investments, increase employment and provide businesses, industry and domestic consumers with alternative options when choosing their supplier of power, stressing that this was a major conquest, New Europe reported.

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Greece commits to reaching deficit target in 2006

Greek Economy and Finance Minister, George Alogoskoufis, reiterated the government's commitment to reduce the country's fiscal deficit below three per cent of GDP this year, New Europe reported.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Luxembourg's Prime Minister and Eurogroup President, Jean-Claude Juncker, in Luxembourg, the Greek minister said: "We have very good cooperation with Eurogroup's head. We discussed all issues scheduled for Eurogroup's agenda in the next six months and mainly evaluation of reform programmes and stability and growth programmes by Eurozone member states."
"I analysed all initiatives taken by the Greek government to cut its deficit and reforms in the framework of a Lisbon Strategy and I reiterated our commitment that with our 2006 budget the deficit will fall below three percent of GDP this year, allowing Greece to move out of an excessive deficit procedure."
Alogoskoufis earlier said 2006 would be a year of implementing and yielding of economic reforms in the country. Presenting his ministry's priorities and goals for the new year, Alogoskoufis said the government was steadfast in its goal to reducing the country's fiscal deficit below three per cent of Gross Domestic Product and said he expected yields from reforms in: changes introduced in public sector enterprises; promotion of joint ventures between public and private sector enterprises; privatisations, focusing mainly in banks, with priorities the listing of Post Savings Bank in the stock market, selling a new stake in AgrotikiBank and a further privatisation of Emporiki Bank.
Alogoskoufis said the government would continue a dialogue on reforming the pension system, promoting a new law on reforming physical persons' taxation, establishing a new framework for a Fourth Community Support Framework Programme and persisting with combating tax evasion.
He also announced new legislative initiatives aimed to form a new agency for fiscal supervision, a new framework aimed to achieve a more efficient use of the public sector's real estate assets and supporting a National Export Council.
Alogoskoufis said a total of 1,100 applications for private investments, worth 2.3 billion Euro, have been submitted so far and that 526 of them have been approved by the government, worth 817 million Euro. These investments are expected to create 3,082 new jobs around the country. Fiscal restructuring and growth were the government's top priorities, Alogoskoufis said. Commenting on a recent rally of prices in the Athens Stock Exchange, the Greek minister said everyone should remember what happened in 1999 and 2000. Alogoskoufis said the government should seek to approve the highest possible increases in its incomes policy, in the context of the state budget. 

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PM Karamanlis in China

Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis, recently described his visit to Beijing as a "landmark in Greek-Chinese relations," after a meeting with Chinese President, Hu Jintao, which wound of his series of contacts in the Chinese capital, New Europe reported.
"You are an old friend of China, and place great importance on the development of bilateral relations. You see Chinese growth as an opportunity for Greece," Hu greeted Karamanlis upon arrival for their meeting, while the Greek prime minister responded that although the two countries differed greatly in size and population, their long histories and ancient civilisations were a common element.
Hu also lauded the outcome of Karamanlis' meeting recently with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, during which the two premiers signed a Joint Declaration calling for the establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Relationship between the two countries.
Karamanlis, accompanied buy Foreign Minister, Petros Molyviatis, Minister of State and government spokesman, Theodoros Roussopoulos, Deputy Foreign Minister, Evripides Stylianidis, and a large business delegation, arrived in Beijing on a three-day official visit considered important from both a political and economic viewpoint.
He met later with premier of China's state council Wen Jiabao, with whom he review the course of bilateral relations, after which they signed the Joint Declaration on establishing a Greece-China comprehensive Strategic Relationship, as well as several other memoranda in the economic and business sector.
After his talks with the Chinese President, Karamanlis said "we ascertained that the present excellent relations between our two countries are based on a strong foundation which we should utilise and on mutual deep respect for the history and civilisation of the two peoples."
He said that they reviewed bilateral relations, and noted the "prospects for further strengthening of our cooperation at all levels, and chiefly in the sectors of business, commerce, merchant shipping and tourism."



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