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GREECE


 

 

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)

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Update No: 120 - (30/05/07)

The Greeks are apprehensive about developments in Turkey and how they will impact on Cyprus, always dear to their hearts. The situation is highly critical, but peace will probably prevail. There is no-one in power like the Greek colonels, who in 1974 attempted a coup de main against the Cyprus government, inciting a Turkish invasion and the present divided island. 

For an examination of the tense conjuncture and possibly explosive consequences, see our last issue, Greece May.

Cyprus solution elusive
Greek foreign minister says the chances for Cyprus resolution are declining. Expressing despondency over the possibility of reaching a comprehensive resolution to the decades-old Cyprus issue, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis has suggested that opportunities for a solution have gradually declined with young generations growing in the northern and southern parts of the divided island. 

"We've been imagining that all residents of the island, Greeks and Turks, will be in a situation that will allow them to benefit from the blessings of the European family when [Greek] Cyprus takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2012. However, as the years pass, the possibility of a resolution is moving away. The new generations do not have memories of the common life of Greek and Turkish Cypriots," Bakoyannis said, referring to the fact that the Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 and that the Greek Cypriot government has been officially representing the entire island in the EU since May 2004. 

The four-decade-old Cyprus problem erupted after the eastern Mediterranean island was granted independence from Britain in 1960 and an outbreak of inter-communal clashes in 1963. The Turkish military intervened in 1974 under the terms of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee since diplomacy had failed to end Turkish-Greek Cypriot fighting. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) unilaterally declared independence but has yet to gain international recognition.

Unremitting clash with corruption a 'matter of course' for ND gov't
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis sharply criticised all those who, as he charged, attempt to cast a shadow over the government's reforms, and "subjugate everything to their petty party expediencies", speaking in Parliament on May 3rd during an off-the-agenda discussion on agriculture policy initiated by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga. 

"I have made a commitment for governance of changes, reforms and social allocation for all citizens," Karamanlis said, stressing that "this vision cannot be undermined, either by those who oppose reforms, or by those who attempt to poison public life through irresponsible generalisations, distortions and falsification, insults and slander, or even populist shrieks." 

"Changes and reforms comprise a national strategy; are a universal demand of society and comprise the greatest challenge for the country in the coming years. They are a national goal," Karamanlis stressed, adding: "I am determined to ensure this target, which serves all Greeks, at any cost. Reforms are continuing; nothing can turn us back." 

Referring to the purchase of overpriced bonds by the board of the TEADY (civil servants supplementary pension fund), Karamanlis said that the incident neither determined the course of the country, nor justified "extreme danger-mongering, irresponsible claims, and provocative populism," which tend to "poison the public life." He said the causes of such a stance were based on an attempt by some "to cast a shadow on the country's progress in its economic and developmental policy." 

Underlining the fact that the government itself had "revealed the (bond purchase) affair" and placed reform of pension fund management as amongst its goals, Karamanlis stressed that the government's aspiration was that "not a single euro should be lost," contrary to "slogans" of "those who did not act accordingly" in the past. 

Commenting on the stance of the preceding PASOK government under Costas Simitis, Karamanlis said that "dilemmas, for us, did not exist and do not exist ... We will not tolerate any cover-up, as others did. We will never follow the example of those who remained apathetic and indifferent spectators to the looting of public money. We are absolute on the phenomenon of corruption," he said. 

The prime minister said the road to combating corruption is a long one, and results come "only if we reveal such phenomena." 

The citizens "know that the phenomena multiplied in the past years, within the full inertia of the previous government that tolerated them and concealed them almost as if they were a matter of course," he said. 

The ND government, on the other hand, as a matter of policy, is on a collision course with corruption. "This is the difference between the past and the present: Disclosure and not cover-up; a clash with everything that harms the Greek people, not compromise." 

Karamanlis said everyone had the right to disagree with decisions taken by the government, however, "no one can subjugate everything to his petty party expediencies. No one will cast a shadow over our reforms strategy," he said. 

The attempt at polarisation, an attempt at generalisations and disinformation, the attempt to undermine the public life, "are doomed to failure," Karamanlis warned, stressing that the ND government was continuing, at an increasing pace, with the changes and reforms in all the sectors. 

"We are all judged and will be judged" on their decisions and choices: "Some for their divisive words and their irresponsibility. We (the ND government) for the reform work we are advancing together with the citizens," the premier concluded.

Greece opens a door to Balkans 
One can conclude on a more positive note that there are great possibilities opening up for Greece, now that the Balkans is largely stabilised, albeit the Kosovo problem remains. Eyeing emerging markets in the Balkans and neighbouring nations, Greece is jockeying to become the development gateway to this vast, untapped market of over 146 million consumers. 

"With regard to Greece's strategic location, it is clear that it is a European country with political and economic stability that forms a gateway to the rapidly developing, emerging markets of the Balkans, the Black Sea, eastern Europe, eastern Mediterranean regions and Russia," Ioannis Tsoukalas, general secretary for research & technology, Ministry of Development (MOD) for the government of Greece noted in opening remarks on May 3rd at the International Electronics Forum in Anavyssos, Greece. 

"The size of these markets is highly promising," he noted, adding that within a radius of 500km there is a market of 35 million inhabitants spread over a major part of Greece, Bulgaria, FYROM, Albania and Serbia-Montenegro. Within a radius of 1000 km there are an additional 146 million people. 

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ENERGY

TNK-BP wants to use Bourgas-Alexandroupolis


Russian-British company TNK-BP plans to supply oil via the planned Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, Sergei Brezitskiy, the executive vice president for production, told the press on April 17. TNK-BP plans to use Bourgas-Alexandroupolis "regardless, of whether it is a shareholder in the project or not," Interfax News Agency quoted him as saying.
The company announced earlier that it was considering buying a share in the project (from the stake held by Greece and Bulgaria).
Meanwhile, Transneft President, Semyon Vainshtok, is confident in the competitiveness of the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project compared with the Constanta-Trieste project. Vainshtok made this statement at the Pipeline Transport 2007 international forum in Moscow on April 17th. "If oil companies have a choice, this is a competitive project," he said. Transneft aims to create the most appealing conditions for clients, he added. "I think we'll win in this competition," said Vainshtok.
Access for producers to the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline will not require a quota system, Nikolai Seregin, a department head at Gazprom Neft, said. 
Free access to any transport infrastructure is envisaged in the European Union, he said. The oil companies interested in this route are in no doubt that the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis project can be implemented quickly. "Final clarity on pumping tariffs has not yet been achieved, " he added.
There are quite strong differences in forecasts on the cost of oil transportation via Black Sea channels and the pipeline. "However, the general view on the economy of the project is clear - it will enable costs to be reduced when transporting oil in this direction," he said.
Overall losses faced by oil companies due to tankers standing idle in Black Sea channels are US$700 million - US$750 million per year. In the winter, the loss caused by an idle tanker is US$12-13 per tonne. Russian companies do not see the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis project as a "closed club, but an open company. We see Kazak companies as potential participants. The participation of TNK-BP and Chevron will also be discussed. Participation of companies (in a consortium) is not compulsory for the use of the pipeline system," Seregin said.

Edison-led group to build 400MW plant in central Greece

A consortium comprised of Edison, Hellenic Technodomiki, Intracom and Viohalco on April 26th said it will build a 400MW combined cycle power station in Thisvi, Viotia prefecture of central Greece, ANA reported. 
A consortium statement said Greece's energy regulatory authority has already approved the installation licence and noted that a decision on the investment was expected to be taken in the next few days by the boards of the companies in the consortium. Edison and Hellenic Technodomiki said they believed in the dynamism of the Greek energy market, which was growing at a pace faster than the EU average and noted they would seek to establish a steady and significant presence in the country.

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

Greece, Slovenia sign 3 agreements

Greek Prime Minister, Costas Karamanlis, on April 23rd received his visiting Slovenian counterpart, Janez Jansa, for talks focusing, expectedly, on Greek-Slovenian relations, as Athens and Ljubljana used the occasion to sign another three bilateral agreements -- a continuation of already excellent relations between the two "Eurozone" partners. The agreements deal with cooperation within the framework of a multinational coordination centre for strategic maritime transports, cooperation between the two countries' oceanography services and tourism cooperation. The Greek defence minister and the Slovenian foreign minister, Evangelos Meimarakis and Dimitrij Rupel, respectively, signed the first two agreements on behalf of the two governments. In talks, both side expressed volition to increase trade and economic ties. Jansa's official visit to Athens follows an invitation by Karamanlis, made during the latter's visit to Ljubljana last January for the ceremonies honouring Slovenia's much-coveted "Eurozone" accession.

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TOURSIM

Tourist season off to strong start

In a meeting with Prime Minister, Costas Karamanlis, on May 7th, Tourism Development Minister, Fani Palli-Petralia, reported that this year's tourist season had kicked off earlier and more strongly than in previous years, New Europe reported.
"This means we have to stay alert and mobilise the entire state mechanism, but the prospects are very good for this year also. I think that this will be the third consecutive year that we will have increased traffic during the summer - and not only then - but also increased foreign exchange from tourism," she underlined.
Pointing out that tourism contributed over one billion euros a month to the Greek economy, Petralia expressed certainty that this figure would be even greater in 2007.
She noted that her ministry's coordination with other ministries, with local authorities and tourism bodies over the past months had yielded the sought-after results, leading to a collective, cooperative approach by all involved in generating Greece's tourist product.
"Our message for this year's tourist season is: 'Safe, friendly, clean environment'. This means safety during one's stay, hospitality and quality services," ANA quoted Petralia as saying.
Asked to comment on Greece's anticipated exit from the excessive deficit procedure, the minister underlined that this was very important for the country and a great success for the government but not necessarily linked to early elections. "I would say that it inspires us to work even harder until the time of the elections," she added.

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