Books on Greece
Area (sq km)
% of GDP
Update No: 105 - (30/01/06)
Latest poll in Greece shows continued ruling party lead over main
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
"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
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.
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
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
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
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."