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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


Update No: 126 - (26/11/07)

Greece and Turkey open gas pipeline
Greece and Turkey are edgy neighbours, who have, nevertheless, been getting on better of late. 
As a symbol of good intentions as well as for more mundane reasons, they opened a $300 million pipeline on November 18, creating an energy corridor that connects the rich natural gas fields in the Caspian Sea region to Europe, bypassing Russia and the volatile Middle East. The 300-kilometre pipeline brings natural gas from Azerbaijan to Greece and will be extended to Italy and the rest of Western Europe. 

The 178-mile pipeline solidifies improved ties between Greece and Turkey, linking the long-time Aegean rivals through a project that will give Caspian gas its first direct Western outlet and help ease Russia's energy dominance as oil and gas prices soar. The two leaders have sought to use an often-cited good personal bond to improve relations between their two countries, which have been strained over decades of territorial disputes in the Aegean Sea - and centuries of shared history within the Ottoman Empire, and later. Karamanlis also shares a personal bond with Erdogan after serving as a witness at his daughter's marriage in 2004.

"This project will bring significant benefits both for Greece and Turkey," said Kostas Karamanlis, the Greek prime minister, who inaugurated the project with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It shows "we can live in harmony and both gain from it," Mr. Karamanlis said, shaking hands with Mr. Erdogan in a symbolic meeting on a bridge over the Evros River, which divides the countries. 

The pipeline, which will use natural gas pumped into Turkey from the Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan, will initially carry 250 million cubic meters of gas a year to Komotini, in north-eastern Greece, from Karacabey, in western Turkey. Its capacity is expected to triple by 2012, when Poseidon, a 132-mile undersea Greece-Italy pipeline begins operation, forming the Southern Europe Gas Ring project.

"The project is extremely significant - and fundamentally political," said Julian Lee, a senior analyst with the Center for Global Energy Studies, a London-based research group. "It offers diversified supplies of energy to Europe without going through Russia - an objective encouraged by the United States."

Signaling Washington's support, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman attended the inauguration ceremony near the Greek-Turkish border. President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan also attended.
Russia, the world's biggest gas and oil producer, accounts for more than 25 percent of EU gas imports, and Western officials have been scrambling for years to forge a viable energy strategy that could ease Russia's hold on European energy supplies.

Greece and Turkey, meanwhile, have been trying to promote themselves as emerging energy hubs and regional power brokers with a string of energy deals. "This pipeline will boost prosperity in the region," Mr. Erdogan said. "The Silk Route will also become an energy route linking East and West through Turkey."

Historic visit by Greek premier to come in 2008
Karamanlis will make an official visit to Turkey early next year, a trip originally slated for 2005 that would be the first of its kind in nearly 50 years, his office said on November 18.

The announcement came after the one-to-one meeting between Karamanlis and Erdogan in the Greek-Turkish border region of Evros, on the sidelines of the inauguration of the shared gas pipeline bringing gas from the Caucasus region to Europe. 

"The visit will be carried out early in 2008," a source in Karamanlis' office told the Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity. "The exact details will be worked out during a visit to Athens by Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan" on December 3, he added. 

The last Greek prime minister to officially visit Turkey was Karamanlis' uncle, Constantine, in 1959. 
The current Greek prime minister was supposed to visit Turkey in 2005, but the trip did not materialise as Turkey's relations with the European Union began to sour over the slow progress of its negotiations to join the bloc. Erdogan had officially invited Karamanlis to visit in July 2005 when they were last together in Evros to launch work for the pipeline just inaugurated. 

The relationship between the two neighbours, once bitter enemies, first began to improve in 1999 after two devastating earthquakes struck Turkey, spawning major offers of help from Athens. 

Greek economy slows down
Greece has itself been buffeted by environmental shocks of late. The summer brought a spate of forest fires, common throughout the Mediterranean at that time of year, but accentuated this year by exceptionally hot weather. Its economy was rather put out of kilter.

The economy expanded at a slower-than-expected pace in the third quarter, but continued to outperform the euro zone average with economists expecting robust growth for the rest of the year.
Based on a flash estimate by the country's statistics service (NSS), Greece's 200 billion euro economy grew at an annual 3.6 percent clip in the third quarter, slower than the 3.8 percent pace economists were forecasting.

It was the slowest rate since the first quarter of 2005 with the statistics service pointing to expensive oil and softer construction activity. Economic growth in the previous quarter was 4.1 percent.
"The slowdown to below expectations was due to a higher than expected increase in imports as oil prices remained at high levels," said economist Dimitris Maroulis at Alpha Bank. "For the full year we expect GDP growth of 4.0 percent."

NSS did not provide further details. Additional data on the pace of investments, consumption and net exports will be made available in December, NSS said.
The government's 2008 draft budget projects economic growth will average 3.8 percent this year and 4.0 percent next year.

Growth in the 13 countries using the euro rebounded more strongly than expected in the third quarter -- 2.6 percent in annual terms from 2.5 in the previous three-month period. .

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