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GREECE


 

 

In-depth Business Intelligence

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
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

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq km)
131,940

Population 
10,647,529

Capital 
Athens

Currency 
Euro

President 
Costas 
Stephanopoulos

Private sector 
% of GDP
over 60%



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 titled.
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 14th-16th.
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 with Greece.
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.

Private Investment 
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 socialism.

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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. 

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

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.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

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.

 

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