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NEWS ARCHIVE - August 2014

Aug 31, 2014

Greece and Turkey - eKathimerini

"Turkey, for example, faces the serious threat of seeing some its territory being lost to the emerging Kurdish state, the founding of which is being encouraged by certain international elements. Of course Turkey cannot avert such a development on its own, but recently elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be eager to ensure that his personal triumph is not allowed to become a national failure. This is especially the case given that his long tenure as prime minister became identified with visions of neo-Ottoman hegemony over the Islamic world.

Isolated from powerful alliances and thrust into the direction of Erdogan’s sultanic ambitions, Turkey may well end up venting its hegemonic urges on the Balkans and the Mediterranean region. Ankara’s growing intransigence in talks for a solution to the Cyprus issue is but one indication and Greece must be prepared for such an eventuality.

Of course this is just mere supposition, but Greece is crippled financially and cannot under any circumstances afford to suffer another crisis, be it diplomatic or otherwise.

All the country’s political forces need to be vigilant and to keep a close eye on developments on the other side of the Aegean as well as the wider Mediterranean region. "

Aug 22, 2014

Greek - American military cooperation to continue - Greek Reporter

The one word missing from the entire article is "Turkey"

"We had the opportunity, along with my American counterpart, to confirm once again the really excellent level of the Greek-American defense cooperation. Today, we essentially proceeded to the finalization of critical issues referring to the road map of the American defense cooperation with our country and give solutions to outstanding issues,” Avramopoulos stressed after the meeting.

Avramopoulos said that they discussed “the burning geopolitical issues of our region, the geostrategic role of Greece as a country of stability and security in the wider region, as well as the role Greece can undertake in the name of international law."

Greece leads the world in heavy children - NY Times

"According to the OECD data, Greece has the highest rate of overweight and obese children (aged 5-17) in the world, followed by Italy, U.S. and Mexico."

Vodafone purchasing 72% of Hellas Online - TWST

"Vodafone today announces that Vodafone Greece has agreed to acquire 72.7% of the share capital of Hellas Online SA ("HOL") from the Intracom Group ("Intracom") and World Equities Investments Holdings SA"

Greece pitching products to China - WBSTV

Video report online - follow the link.

Aug 20, 2014

Greece may post positive GDP in 3rd quarter - EU Corner

"A fragile, uneven and weak recovery is gradually manifesting itself in the real economy of Greece. The recent data published by ELSTAT for the first two quarters of GDP performance in 2014 suggests that Greece is on course to register its first quarterly GDP level in positive territory in the third quarter this year.

...reinvigoration of the Greek economy will hardly gain traction if a shortage of financial resources to fund it persists. The case of neighbouring Italy is a warning sign for Greece. We learnt last week that the Italian economy yet again slipped back into recession in the second quarter of 2014. If such a scenario is to be avoided in Greece, there are important lessons to be learned and applied in the short-term for Athens.

Funding the recovery in Greece will need more than record tourism numbers for this year and even more emphasis being put on the narrative of this recovery. Scraping together new funding resources and instruments remains the order of the day for the authorities in Athens."

Aug 19, 2014

Greece and USA continue joint NATO airpower training -

"As a fighter pilot myself, I am keenly aware of the importance of these kinds of exercises," said Hellenic air force Col. Ioannis Gerolimos, the 115th Combat Wing commander. "My aim is to make sure that the 115th CW is ready to deal with any operational situation in any environment. Also, this training exercise -- with the participation of the 480th (Fighter Squadron) -- gives us both the essential means in maintaining and enhancing the ability of our involving personnel to work together, which will be increasingly important to meet future challenges as allied air forces."

Flexible airpower derives from the ability to successfully plan, integrate, and provide command and control for a large number of tactical air assets, and each NATO partner nation may achieve their desired combat potential through rigorous peacetime training."

Greece up in sea food production - Undercurrents

"...Greece, the world’s largest farmer of seabass and seabream, was the only significant European producer to experience any growth, driven by a 16% hike in seabass output (see charts below).

The FEAP 2014 report, available in full here, shows that European countries harvested 2.187 million metric tons of finfish in 2013. That represents a 3% or 68,000t drop from the previous year’s 2.255m tons.

Norway had the biggest drop, with volumes dropping by 55,000t from 1.325m to 1.27m tons."

Aug 16, 2014

Mykonos tourism boosted by celebrities - Guardian UK

"The playground of the 1960s jetset is back in fashion as the country's tourist hotspots give the economy a boost

...mega-yachts moored in its harbour, magnums of champagne sold on its beaches and dawn-to-dusk parties at its open-air clubs, Mykonos has reclaimed some of the glamour that made it a bacchanalian paradise for artists and the gay community half a century ago. "You bump into Conchita Wurst [winner of this year's European song contest] and think nothing of it," said one visitor, part of a crowd of six well-heeled gay men from the US who spent a week on the island during a cruise of the Aegean earlier this summer. "You definitely don't think 'crisis' when you are there."

For a country so dependent on tourism, the endorsements could not come at a better time. Against all the odds, Greece has attracted record numbers this year to become the hottest tourist destination on the continent of Europe. Despite a precipitous drop in tourists from Russia and Ukraine – an estimated 300,000 have cancelled holidays following the insurrection and drop in value of the rouble – the Mediterranean country is well on track to surpassing its target of 19 million visitors (21.5 million if cruise-ship visitors are taken into account), almost double the Greek population."

Aug 14, 2014

Greece in deflation - Telegraph UK

"It's official. Portugal, Greece and Spain are in deflation - while Italy isn't far behind. Prices in the three eurozone nations fell in July, while overall inflation in the currency bloc was confirmed at just 0.4pc, down from 0.5pc in June. This represents the lowest level in almost five years.

Prices in Greece fell by an average of 0.8pc in July, according to Eurostat, while prices in Portugal and Spain fell by 0.7pc and 0.4pc respectively. In Italy, the inflation rate was zero."

Aug 14, 2014

Fruit rots as experts meet to mull Russian ban - Ansamed

"Some 12,000 tons of peaches and nectarines on Wednesday remained in refrigerators in Imathia - one of the seven Greece's prefectures affected by the Russian food embargo - with another 13,000 tons of fruit remaining unpicked due to a flood of canceled deliveries, as Kathimerini online reports.

With agricultural experts from the European Union's 28 member states set to gather in Bruxelles on Thursday to estimate the broader impact of Moscow's ban ahead of calculating the compensation that should go to the various affected countries, authorities in seven prefectures in northern and central Greece are scrambling to assess their losses.

According to the head of the main group of agricultural cooperatives in Imathia, Christos Giannakakis, most of the trucks that had been dispatched with fruit for Russia have returned to the capital Veria following the cancellation of deliveries. But, he said, some of the truck drivers are trying to sell the fruit on their way back."


Thassos Greece

Aug 13, 2014

Is recession coming to end? - Bloomberg

"Greece’s economy contracted at its slowest pace in almost six years, adding to signs that the country is set for a 2014 exit from its deepest recession in half a century as it emerges from its debt crisis.

Gross domestic product declined 0.2 percent in the three months through June from the same period last year, its 24th straight contraction, after dropping a revised 1.1 percent in the previous quarter, the Athens-based Hellenic Statistical Authority said in an e-mailed statement today. The contraction is the smallest since the third quarter of 2008 and beats the median estimate of a 0.5 percent drop in a Bloomberg survey.

“We’ve had a long-term positive trend,” said Christian Schulz, senior European economist at Berenberg Bank in London. “Whether the confidence can be strong enough to push Greece back into strong growth just yet is open to question. I think Greece will probably this year still have to rely on a positive tourist season.”

The Wall Street Journal take on the same news:

"Greece's latest round of tax hikes on real estate, which take effect next month, are already weighing heavily on sentiment in one of the economy's most crucial sectors and acts as a drag on a broader recovery.

"Expectations of a rationalization of property taxes in 2014 were not met, harming further the property market," said Alpha Bank ALPHA.AT +0.83% in a report. "The sector that is now delaying the economy's rebound is the real-estate market."

Aug 13, 2014

2300 year old tomb found, apparently intact - CBS News

"Archaeologists excavating an ancient mound in northern Greece have uncovered what appears to be the entrance to an important tomb from about the end of the reign of warrior-king Alexander the Great, officials said Tuesday.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who visited the tightly-guarded site Tuesday, said the discovery "is clearly extremely important" and dates between 325-300 B.C.

Alexander, who started from the northern Greek region of Macedonia to build an empire stretching as far as India, died in 323 B.C. and was buried in Egypt. His fellow royals were traditionally interred in a cemetery near Vergina, far to the west, where the lavishly-furnished tomb of Alexander's father, Philip II, was discovered in the 1970s.

But archaeologists believe the apparently unlooted Amphipolis grave, which is surrounded by a surprisingly long and well-built wall with courses of marble decorations, may have belonged to a senior ancient official."

Aug 11, 2014

Russian ban could harm Greek agriculture - News Max

"Greece’s hopes of a 2014 exit from its deepest recession in a half-century may hit a stumbling block after Russia banned European Union food imports in retaliation for sanctions stemming from the insurgency in Ukraine.

“The estimated total cost of Russian counter-sanctions for the Greek economy may look tolerable, but the impact could be quite damaging for industries such as tourism and agriculture amid the fragility of a slowly recovering economy,” said Thanos Dokos, director-general of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, a Greek think-tank. “It also raises questions about energy security in the coming autumn and winter.”

Russia is Greece’s biggest trading partner, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The value of total trade between the two nations reached 9.3 billion euros ($12.5 billion) in 2013, surpassing trade flows between Greece and fellow EU-member German."

Aug 11, 2014

The new sultan: Erdogan’s triumph - Independent UK

"After yesterday’s first round, in which he won more than 50 per cent of the vote, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the all-powerful Prime Minister since 2002, is almost certainly heading for several more years in power under a new label, giving him time to complete the construction of what he calls the “new Turkey”. The polls put him well ahead of his two rivals, a septuagenarian ex-diplomat and a young ethnic Kurd, which is not surprising, as the public has not learnt much about either candidate. Figures for last month showed that while Mr Erdogan received 533 minutes of airtime on state television to make his pitch, his two rivals got three minutes and 45 seconds respectively.

That farcically lopsided allocation of media coverage is only one of many indications that Turkey is morphing into a Russian-style “shell” democracy, in which managed plebiscites mask the essentially autocratic character of a system containing few or no checks and balances.

Like Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s strongman specialises in the rhetoric of “us and them”; in his case, railing against a strange and unlikely combination of Jews and supporters of the US-based Sunni cleric Fethullah Gulen, who, he insists, are plotting to destroy him. Lest anyone dismiss this as hot air, it should be noted that Mr Erdogan has made good use of these alleged conspiracies to ram through key changes, purging institutions of his opponents, starting with the army and police.

When he began putting generals on trial, Western governments were inclined to applaud, seeing the Turkish armed forces as over-fond of politics and their own privileges. But the purges have continued to the point where the only serious resistance to Mr Erdogan’s whims now comes from the judges, who in April bravely struck down his attempt to ban the use of social networks."

Aug 4, 2014

Argentina should learn from Greece: Juncker - ABC News

"Greece's recent efforts to get its public finances into shape could have been the model for recently defaulted Argentina to follow.

That's the view of Jean-Claude Juncker, the man who is due to take over the European Union's executive branch in November.

After talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens, Juncker said the reforms carried about by the country over the past few years could have served as a model for Argentina, which last week defaulted on its debts for the second time since 2001.

"Greece could have been a good example for Argentina to avoid the problems it was not able to avoid," Juncker said. "So Greece is not Argentina."

In his first trip abroad since being elected to head the European Commission, Juncker praised Greek efforts to improve public finances, and insisted that he played a key role in keeping the country in the euro currency zone.

"I really fought like a lion, I would say," Juncker said. "There was a great battle to counter those who wanted to remove Greece from the euro."

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