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: 087 - (27/07/04)
The Cup and the Games
The Greeks are quite spectacularly happy. They have won the European Cup for Football, beating Portugal in the final 1:0. This was not on the cards, at least not without a miracle.
The miracle duly happened. Their team had a brilliant German coach with the Christian name of Otto. As it so happens the first king of Greece after independence in 1831, was a Nordic, a certain Otto, crowned in 1833
The next item on their agenda is nothing less than the Olympic Games. There has been a terrific to-do about making sure that everything is ready. It just about is. A triumph of improvisation over planning.
The real triumph
Whatever happens in the Games, Greece has without a doubt added to its stature. Everybody knows about, and is curious about, Greece. One can expect a tourist boom, although there is great concern at the slow rate of sale of Olympic event tickets. But what is the country they are coming to?
Pasok loses the elections
In elections on March 7th to parliament, the outcome brought an end to over twenty years of dominance by the Socialists of Pasok, who ruled for all but three years since 1981. As with all regimes that go on for so long cronyism and corruption become endemic. That certainly happened to Pasok. The Greeks wanted a change.
Under the new electoral law the New Democracy Party of Costas Karamanlis got 165 seats in the 300-seat chamber to Pasok's 117, with a number of fringe parties barely scraping through the 3% threshold for representation in parliament. Karamanlis is the nephew of a former premier, Konstantin Karamanlis. The leadership of Pasok was changed earlier this year from Costas Smitis to George Papandreou, himself the son of the founder of Pasok and a premier himself.
The Socialists knew they needed to offer something new, but in the end it was somebody representing something old that was on offer, and proved more acceptable. Papandreou was born in the US and educated in the UK. He speaks Greek only as a second language. The pro-Americanism of the Pasok leadership was another obstacle for them, due to an inveterate distrust of Washington in Greece, inherited from the days of Greek Civil War in 1944-47, which was greatly reinforced by US support for the military junta in 1967-74, the intervention in Kosovo, and the invasion of Iraq.
Greek-Slovenian gas pipeline
The European Union's Energy Ministers Council recently approved for priority funding the construction of a natural gas pipeline running from Greece to Slovenia through the western Balkans, and downgraded a proposal for a pipeline from Italy to Bulgaria, New Europe reported.
It also expressed funding interest in two liquefied gas terminals on Crete and mainland Greece. Further, it referred to a Greek proposal to ECOFIN for a temporary cut in the special fuel consumption tax during the August Olympics.
Greece attracts German investment
Greek Deputy Development Minister George Salagoudis urged foreign companies to invest in the country's windpower sector and stressed that the government was implementing a new policy aimed at abolishing all barriers and simplifying licensing procedures in the sector, ANA News Agency reported recently.
Addressing a conference on "Windpower energy investments in Greece" in Hannover, Germany - organised by the German Union of Windpower Energy - Salagoudis said that Public Power Corp (DEH), in cooperation with DESNIE SA, is working to ensure the necessary expansion of the electricity grid in the country. "Our aim is to create a stable environment for the development of renewable energy sources that will attract foreign investments in Greece," Salagoudis said.
FOOD & DRINK
CCHBC pays €0.20 per share
Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company SA announced recently that according to the decision of the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, the dividend for the fiscal year 2003 is €0.20 per share. The record date for the dividend payment was June 11th, 2004. From June 14th 2004, shares started trading on the Athens Exchange ex-dividend. Dividend payments began recently through submission of the relevant Central Securities Depository certificates by shareholders or their brokers or financial institutions. The dividend payments will take place through the Alpha Bank branch network, the bottling company said, New Europe reported.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Athens boosts trade prospects with Baku
Bilateral relations will be further facilitated between Athens and Baku. During Greek President, Kostis Stephanopoulos', visit to Azerbaijan three agreements were signed aimed at producing further development of relations between the two countries in the sectors of business and commerce. The first accord concerns the promotion and mutual protection of investments, while a second agreement concerns matters of international road transports, and the third accord concerns mutual assistance on customs issues, ANA News Agency reported.
During his meeting with his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev, Stephanopoulos discussed bilateral economic and business cooperation, as well as international and regional problems. He said the reinforcement of Greece's presence in the region "reinforces the targets of Greek foreign policy", adding that "if we show consistence and continuity in this effort, the benefits will be great."
Stephanopoulos expressed Greece's political will to reinforce bilateral cooperation in all sectors, given that Azerbaijan was a constantly developing country and was of great importance due to its petrol and natural gas production. Energy issues topped the meeting agenda.
Accompanying the president, Public Gas Corporation Chairman Raphael Moissis met Fuel and Energy Minister Medjid Kerimov and the chairman of the country's hydrocarbons corporation, Natig Aliyev.
The officials held extensive talks on further cooperation in the energy market. Currently, both sides are discussing a plan for Azerbaijan's natural gas to be transported in pipelines to European Union countries through Greece.
Other agreements reached concerned the sectors of electronics, marble and wine within the framework of the Greece-Azerbaijan Business Forum held recently.
Sunny days ahead for ITT industry, IOBE report shows
Greece's information technology (IT) market is heading for better days, latest data has shown. The country's Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) released a study recently on information technology and telecommunications (ITT) companies, according to which the market is optimistic about their future. These firms however remained cautious in their expectations and as noted in the study, a key factor for the sectors is an improvement in the overall economic environment. "Projects subsidised through the Community Support Framework - especially via the Information Society Operational Programme - must materialise faster," the study noted.
Citing the IOBE study, the Kathimerini local daily reported recently that the ITT industry faced a steady deterioration of financial results after 2000, due to decreased demand, and the "ups and downs" of share prices of companies trading on the Athens Stock Exchange. The boom period of 1999-2000 supported profits, but these turned into losses when the stock market began to fall, Kathimerini reported.
Greece's telecoms sector owes its better outlook mainly to the booming mobile telephony market, IOBE asserted. Indeed, financial results of 109 telecommunications companies show a steady improvement in their turnover during the period 1998-2002, despite a small decline in profits in 2002.
An improvement in demand, concerning products and services of the two sectors, is projected for the Greek market, according to IOBE. Private investment in the ITT sector is expected to rise, due to the modernisation needs of Greek companies.
At the same time, the younger generations utilise more ITT applications.
Public investment leading to the availability of services online creates not only direct demand, but secondary as well, with multiple benefits. It is thus that the development of the industry is expected tobe long-term, with constantly rising demand.
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