Books on Greece
Area (sq km)
% of GDP
Update No: 101 - (27/09/05)
What's in a name?
It is extraordinary with what trivialities world statesmen are obliged to
concern themselves, the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
being one of them. At NATO, the European Union and United Nations, Macedonia is
known as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." Greece has a
province called Macedonia on the frontier with FYROM, as it insists it should be
It is where Philip of Macedon and his son, Alexander the Great, came from, of
whom the Greeks are inordinately proud, despite the fact that the two together
conquered Ancient Greece and brought its great days to an end. But the Hellenic
period that ensued did convey its marvellous culture to a far wider sphere,
indeed set up the way for Rome and the modern West. Hence the pride and jealousy
in not having the great name purloined by a mere remnant of Yugoslavia.
"Macedonia's path towards EU membership cannot continue unless the name
issue is resolved," said Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis during a
visit to Prague, Czech Republic.
Indeed, on November 9th, the European Commission will present its opinion on
Macedonia's EU perspective, which will be discussed within the Union a week
later. This is a massively important moment for the Macedonians.
They would be well-advised to play along with the Greeks for the while, get into
the EU and then after a decent interval raise the matter again, not in Brussels,
but the UN. Time is on their side in this dispute. 'FYROM' is too cumbersome a
name too survive. Everyone but the Greeks will be calling the country
'Macedonia' sooner or later - except for the Greeks and Brussels bureaucrats,
who will be made to look very silly.
Rapprochement with Turkey
A vastly more important issue is Greece's relationship with Turkey. This has
been vexed for years.
Furthermore, during his visit in Prague, the Greek PM said that Greece supports
Turkey's EU hopes. However, he stressed that the declaration Turkey issued after
signing the protocol extending its customs union with the EU to the ten new
members, including Greek Cyprus, poses a series of problems, which must be
resolved. Mr. Karamanlis was pressing for Turkish recognition of Greek Cyprus
when he met with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan on September
Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, appeared to address a similar demand
made by President Chirac that Turkey needed to clarify its position on Cyprus.
Mr Gul said in an interview with the Turkish Daily News that his country is
ready "to establish relations with the new partnership state that will
emerge following a comprehensive settlement on Cyprus." Cyprus has been
divided into a Turkish-occupied north and a Greek Cypriot south since a 1974
Turkish invasion in response to a failed coup by supporters of enosis or union
The Turkish government and Turkish Cypriots backed a referendum to approve a
United Nations brokered settlement for the island in April 2004, but it was
voted down by Greek Cypriots, much to the embarrassment of the EU, which had
hoped to reunite the island before it was allowed to join the political and
economic union on May 1st.
Athens is naturally very concerned about the matter, being the patron of one
party to the dispute.
Karamanlis says jobs-for-life policy to end
Prime Minister Karamanlis, who only came to power last year, has plenty of
more mundane problems on his plate at home. Pushing through reforms that twenty
years of socialist rule neglected is a number one priority.
He said that a policy of jobs-for-life will end for new hires at
state-controlled companies to make them more competitive and boost the country's
economy. New workers will be employed under general labour law applying to
private enterprise, Karamanlis said in a keynote economic policy speech in
Thessaloniki, northern Greece. He didn't say when the measure will take effect.
''Changes and reforms continue,'' Karamanlis said in the speech. ''The country
needs many more.''
Karamanlis is changing labour rules that hamper profit growth at
state-controlled companies as he moves to sell stakes to raise cash and reduce
the country's debt. Greece raised 835 million euros selling 10 per cent of
Hellenic Telecommunications Organization SA after stock in the country's biggest
phone operator rose to a three-year high following similar labour changes.
Total revenue from state asset sales has topped 2 billion euros (US$2.5 billion)
this year, above a previous target of 1.6 billion. Greece may sell stakes in
port operators next year as part of a new state asset sale plan, Karamanlis said
in the speech.
Karamanlis's 18-month-old government has reduced business taxes and extended
shopping hours to encourage private investment to keep the economy growing. The
government expects the economy to expand 3.6 percent this year, the slowest rate
since 1999, as the economy struggles to sustain momentum from last year's Athens
Olympics, which fuelled state-funded investment.
A May agreement between management and unions at Hellenic Telecom that allows
the company to hire new workers under private- sector contracts is a ''model''
and a ''significant beginning,'' Karamanlis said in his speech.
Police estimated about 10,000 people demonstrated on the same day on the streets
of Thessaloniki against the government's economic policies. We won't accept any
changes,'' Nikos Pilalidis, labour union leader at state-controlled Public Power
Corp., Greece's biggest electricity producer, said in a telephone interview.
Firings at the company require union agreement, he said. Pilalidis said that
''deals like that at Hellenic Telecom won't pass at our company,'' making it
clear who are the true conservatives these days.
Almost 60 per cent of Greeks say employees at state companies should have the
same work rules as those in the private sector, according to a June poll. This
sentiment helps explain why the socialists lost last year. People are fed up
with the mollycoddling of the bloated state sector after two decades of
FOOD & DRINK
Coca-Cola HBC posts strong gains in H1
Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCH BC) recently reported strong results
for the first half of 2005. In a statement, the company said the solid growth
was due to strong organic volume growth, supply chain efficiencies partly
offsetting higher raw material costs and a positive currency impact.
CCHBC said that volume excluding the impact of its recent acquisitions in
Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia was up by around nine percent in the reported period
and 10 per cent on a like-for-like selling day basis (excluding the impact of
two less shipping days in the first quarter of 2005). Including acquisitions,
volume rose 11 per cent in the first half of the year (12 per cent on a
like-for-like selling day basis). In the second quarter of 2005, volume grew 13
per cent excluding acquisitions and 16 per cent as reported.
Positive volume growth was achieved in all product categories during both
periods under review, the company said in the statement. In particular, during
the second quarter of the year, CSD volume grew by high single digits while
water and other non-CSDs delivered strong double-digit volume growth.
"In addition, our intensified marketing efforts in Light/Diet CSDs,
resulted in low double digit volume growth in this category," the statement
read. "In line with our innovation plans for the summer of 2005, we
launched new products supported by exciting promotional campaigns. Some of the
new products launched during the second quarter were Fanta Free in Italy,
Coca-Cola Light with Lime in Ireland, new Bonaqua water flavours in the Czech
Republic, Valser water flavours in Switzerland, new Amita juice flavours as well
as Avra Bloom for kids in Greece," CCHBC said.
"In addition to launching new products, we also engaged in several seasonal
promotional activities. In CSDs, the Fanta Bambootcha game and campaign which
targets a youthful and fun audience ran in a number of countries such as the
Baltics, the Czech Republic and Hungary," it explained. "The
'Coca-Cola Soundwave' and 'Coke & Music' campaigns targeting the youth
market, continued building brand association with music - Poland, Greece and
Switzerland all successfully ran integrated campaigns and local
competitions," it added.
"Additionally, Coca-Cola Light continues to be a key brand for CCHBC and
our continued effort to promote this brand include sampling in Poland with
special graphics on Coca-Cola Light 330ml cans and the successful completion of
the Coca-Cola Light Man competition in Austria."
Net sales revenue in both periods under review benefited from strong volume
growth and a favourable currency impact. "Our aggressive cooler rollout
strategy and market execution focus resulted in a positive impact from packaging
mix due to strong double digit growth of half-litre PET and single serve
returnable glass bottle in the second quarter," the statement read.
Underlying EBIT for the group increased 7 per cent in the first half of the year
and underlying EPS rose 15 per cent. Underlying EBIT margins for the first six
months remained stable compared with the first half of 2004 primarily due to
supply chain efficiencies mitigating the negative impact of higher raw material
costs, planned investment in sales and marketing, and limited pricing
flexibility in the developing EU accession markets, the company said.
Karamanlis pays official visit to the Czech Republic
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis paid an official visit to the Czech
capital recently, New Europe reported.
Karamanlis had a meeting with Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, and shortly
afterwards he held talks with Czech Prime Minister, Jiri Paroubek. On the agenda
of the talks were bilateral relations, mainly issues of trade transactions and
tourism cooperation between Greece and Czech Republic. Furthermore, the leaders
of the two countries discussed issues regarding the European Union and mainly
the EU's fiscal prospects for the years 2007-2013, as well as the enlargement of
the EU with the issue of Turkey. Accompanying Karamanlis on his visit were
Minister of State, Theodoros Roussopoulos, Deputy Foreign Minister, Yiannis
Valinakis, and Deputy National Economy and Finance Minister, Christos Folias.
Greece, China discuss defence, bilateral ties
The will of the political leaderships of Greece and China for strengthening and
supporting the bilateral relations in a broad spectrum of sectors, was
reiterated by Greek national defence minister and his Chinese counterpart during
a meeting they had in Beijing recently, New Europe reported.
The two defence ministers agreed that the United Nations constitutes the supreme
forum for securing world peace and security. The Greek side briefed the Chinese
side on the situation in Kosovo, the Balkans and on Greece's participation in
peace missions under the auspices of the UN, while it thanked the Chinese
government for its stance in the Cyprus issue, within the framework of the
United Nations. The Chinese side referred to the problems with Japan and Taiwan,
to the issue of the European Union embargo, for the lifting of which a decision
of the "25" is pending following the adoption of the "Code of
Conduct," as well as the joint military exercises with Russia. On the issue
of the security of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Greek side reiterated its
willingness to offer its experience to the relevant Chinese authorities.
Ericsson wins Vivodi contract
Sweden's Ericsson, a leading telecoms solutions provider, announced recently
that it secured a deal with Vivodi Telecom, a Greek wireline operator, to
deliver 10,000 ADSL 2+ lines using Ericsson's Ethernet DSL Access solution. The
deal gives the operator the chance to deliver triple-play services of data,
voice and video over one common infrastructure, M2 Communications reported.