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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-08-28

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] FM on Caucasus crisis
  • [02] OTE: 8.3% hike in H1 profits
  • [03] Parliament com't OKs South Stream

  • [01] FM on Caucasus crisis

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday briefed Parliament's relevant defence and foreign affairs committee, where she emphasised that Athens will meet all of the commitments and agreements it has signed before last week's crisis in Georgia.

    "Agreements we had made before the outbreak of this very dangerous crisis are in force. Greece has never gone back on its word," Bakoyannis told MPs.

    She also defended Athens' criticism of a controversial decision by Moscow to recognise the independence of the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, saying that, among others, this was an EU position clearly expressed by a French EU presidency announcement.

    "We realistically recognised that this tense situation would have repercussions in NATO-Russia relations ... as an alliance we should have exploited all of the forces and channels of communication within the institutionalised NATO-Russia council," she added.

    Moreover, she said Greece belongs to the group of countries that have continued over the years to support such dialogue, as well as the NATO-Russia and EU-Russia partnership.

    "Our government developed particularly close economic and political relations with Russia. Of course, there are problems, but we must deal with them through dialogue."

    Bakoyannis underlined that there was also a condemnation of Georgia's move into South Ossetia, saying the action violated previous agreements.

    Referring to the Caucasus country's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, Bakoyannis said "he made several major mistakes and misread the situation, and we said this to the Georgians themselves."

    Conversely, she said the affected territory is in Georgia, therefore, the Russian side's excessive response caused reactions amongst the international community.

    The Greek FM also reminded that Athens bases its foreign policy on respect of international law, something consistently applied to a series of thorny issues, such as the Cyprus problem, Kosovo, Taiwan and others.

    "We are neither in a Cold War nor in a post-Cold War period. The international community is experiencing the fluidity of a transitional period, with new developments, ones that signify a gradual transition to new balances," she said.


    In reference to the nagging "name dispute" with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bakoyannis merely reiterated that Greece remains committed to the negotiations under UN mediator Matthew Nimetz.

    However, Bakoyannis did not mince her words when referring to a recent "surge in irredentism, arrogance and (verbal) acrobatics" by the leadership in Skopje, adding that most of those comments are served up for internal consumption by the country's public opinion, "which, however, is slowly but steadily starting to realise that the country's isolation cannot lead to a prospect of prosperity for this people."

    Finally, she emphasised that FYROM's Euro-Atlantic course is utterly linked with a resolution of the "name issue".

    "If the name issue is solved, then Greece has no problem with (FYROM's) entry into NATO and the EU, because this irredentism is connected with the name issue."

    Opposition parties

    Speaking for main opposition PASOK, former deputy foreign minister Andreas Loverdos said Georgia's attack on South Ossetia and Abkhazia was inspired by Washington, while he said the Greek government's support of the French EU presidency's decision to condemn Russia's "unilateral action" was correct.

    "We are a country that has experience from the Cyprus problem, and it is necessary that we come out against unilateral actions," Loverdos said.

    In terms of the "name issue", Loverdos said that Greece is obliged to re-evaluate its entire position "from the moment that Skopje's leadership does not wish to cooperate, but essentially ruins the talks by constantly piling on non-existent issues".

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Greek FM Dora Bakoyannis.

    [02] OTE: 8.3% hike in H1 profits

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) on Thursday reported improved first half results, with group turnover rising 2.2 pct to 3.128 billion euros, net profits rising 8.3 pct to 300.4 million euros and EBITDA margin rising by almost one point to 37.

    OTE attributed its improved results to a good performance in the second quarter of the year, with revenues up 2.5 pct, net profits up 16.6 pct and its EBITDA margin rising by 1.5 points.

    Parent turnover totaled 1.285 billion euros in the January-June period, down 3.5 pct from last year, while net profits jumped 10.8 pct to 341.9 million euros and EBITDA margin rose to 33.3 points.

    Cosmote Group said net new connections totaled 942,289 in the first six months of 2008, with its customer base totaling 17,428,633, up 33.2 percent from last year. Turnover totaled 1.541 billion euros, up 8.1 pct, operating earnings rose 10.3 pct to 321.2 million euros and EBITDA margin rose to 33.9 points.

    Cosmote attracted more than 392,000 customers in Greece in the second quarter of the year, accounting for 53 pct of new connections. Turnover rose 6.5 pct, operating earnings were up 9.5 pct and EBITDA margin rose to 42 points.

    In Albania, AMC attracted around 57,000 new connections, with its customer base totaling 1.3 million, up 17.3 pct from 2007. Turnover rose 11.9 pct to 91.4 million euros, operating earnings rose 20.5 pct to 46.1 million and EBITDA margin rose to 63.5 points.

    In Bulgaria, Globul reported a 9.9-pct increase in revenues to 210 million euros, a 15.2 pct rise in operating earnings to 39 million euros, and EBITDA margin rising to 40.8 points.

    In FYROM, Cosmofon reported a 3.0-pct rise in turnover to 30 million euros, although operating results and EBITDA margin moved lower.

    Cosmote Romania reported improved results in the second quarter of the year, with EBITDA totaling 5.0 million euros.

    Retailer chain Germanos reported a 13.8-pct increase in turnover and a 99.1 pct decline in profits to 100,000 euros.

    RomTelecom reported a 0.7-pct increase in revenues in the first six months of the year.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of OTE's headquarters in northern Athens.

    [03] Parliament com't OKs South Stream

    A relevant Parliamentary committee on Thursday ratified an agreement between Greece and the Russian Federation regarding cooperation in the construction and exploitation of a stretch of the South Stream natural gas pipeline which will pass through Greek territory.

    Voting in favour of the ratification were deputies of the ruling New Democracy party, main opposition PASOK and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party. Deputies of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voted present, whereas deputies of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) voted against.

    The South Stream pipeline is projected to carry Russian natural gas to Europe, beginning from Novorossisk and crossing under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and on to Greece.

    Development Minister Christos Folias termed the agreement as historic (it was signed in April 2008), saying it fulfils the government's objectives in terms of energy policy for the country's adequacy in energy supply.

    Folias stressed that relevant timetables are being honored at all levels and that the pipeline will be completed in about 2014.

    He clarified that this project is not in competition with other pipelines, such as the Turkish-Greek-Italian connection that will be completed in 2012. Instead, he stressed that South Stream will be a supplementary because demand for consumption in Greece and the European Union is constantly increasing.

    Caption: An image showing the installations of the main natural gas pipeline in the village of Boyarka, close to Kiev, Ukraine, on Monday 12 February 2008. ANA-MPA/EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

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