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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] OTE says profits up 15.3% in '07
  • [02] Bryza touches on energy security
  • [03] Alavanos calls for referendum

  • [01] OTE says profits up 15.3% in '07

    Hellenic Telecoms (OTE) on Thursday reported a 7.3-pct-increase in 2007 turnover to 6.32 billion euros, noting that operating expenses rose 9.8 pct to 5.273 billion euros over the same year.

    Net profits jumped 15.3 pct to 662.6 million euros, while EBITDA rose 3.4 pct in 2007. Parent turnover totalled 2.657 billion euros, down 2.1 pct from the previous year, while operating expenses fell 2.3 pct and net profits rose 8.5 pct to 576.5 million euros.

    Cosmote Group reported a 28.5-pct increase in its turnover and 0.2 pct rise in net profits last year, while Romtelecom reported a 2.6-pct decline in turnover to 879.1 million euros, EBITDA fell 11.2 pct and the company reported a loss of 21.1 million euros in 2007.

    Hellenic Telecoms plans to pay a 0.75-euro per share dividend to shareholders.

    Govt, Deutsche Telekom discuss OTE equity stake

    In a related development, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Thursday met in Athens with Deutsche Telekom's vice chairman Karl-Gerhard Eick for talks over an agreement reached between the German telecoms giant and Athens-based Marfin Investment Group (MIG) for the purchase of around 20 pct equity stake in state-run Hellenic Telecoms (OTE).

    Caption: A file photo shows an exterior view of OTE's headquarters in northern Athens. ANA-MPA/ P. SAITAS.

    [02] Bryza touches on energy security

    Ensuring western Europe's, and by extension, Greece's "multiple options for buying natural gas" was the leitmotif expressed by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs Matthew J. Bryza on Tuesday, who spoke to local reporters via a tele-conference link from Washington D.C.

    "The goal is not to hurt Russia or Gazprom, it is to help the countries that either export the gas or buy the gas to position themselves to have more negotiating leverage by relying on the force of competition, so that over the course of time Gazprom becomes a more market-based competitor rather than a monopolistic competitor that uses its monopolistic power to influence gas prices to keep the price high ‚¶ that is not a criticism of Gazprom, that's a fact ‚¶" Bryza said during the course of a Q&A session at the US embassy in Athens.

    The top US diplomat on energy issues and policy also flatly dismissed any notion of "displeasure" by Washington with expanding Greek-Russian ties in the energy sector - i.e. the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline that bypasses the Bosporus.

    "That view does not reflect reality as I see it," he said, adding that other foreign policy matters are in no way linked to energy security policy. Along those lines, he said he was confident that Greece, just as other European countries, is keenly interested in achieving the best possible price for natgas imports, regardless of whatever historical relationship the two countries (Russia and Greece) may share.

    Regarding the capacity of Azerbaijan gas fields to supply TGI -- in light of Greek Development Minister Christos Folias' talks in Baku on Tuesday -- Bryza expressed a view that industry data and "our careful analysis" shows that "Azerbaijan has plenty of gas to realise the Turkey-Greece-Italy pipeline, and not just that, it has plenty of gas to launch the Nabucco pipeline after TGI, and probably has enough gas to fill Nabucco, but I said probably‚¶"

    Bryza said this was an official US administration position regarding the capacity of Azeri gas fields.

    He also stressed that both TGI and Nabucco enjoy a clear-cut commercial advantage over other current or proposed competitors.

    The US official also reiterated that Washington "does not seek to disrupt" Turkmenistan's long-standing contractual arrangements with Gazprom when asked about the possibility of funneling the land-locked ex-Soviet republic's gas production to western Europe. However, he said Russia was, in fact, looking to Turkmenistan gas to fill its proposed Southstream pipeline, which he characterised as a "vague notion" with no cost estimate.

    Twice during the briefing Bryza reiterated that Washington's goal was to assist its European allies in developing a mutually beneficial energy relationship with Russia.

    Finally, Bryza called on Turkey to join the SE Europe Energy Community initiative, while noting -- when queried on a recent eye-brow-raising Iran-Switzerland energy deal -- that "TGI and Nabucco will be realised without Iranian gas."

    Caption: US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza speaks during a news conference following his meeting with the Georgian premier in Tbilisi, 12 November 2007. ANA-MPA/EPA/ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE

    -hkt

    [03] Alavanos calls for referendum

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos called for a referendum on all-important social security reforms, a proposal that was later backed by main opposition PASOK and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party.

    Addressing Parliament on Thursday during a wide-ranging debate on the draftbill, Alavanos suggested that opposition parties should jointly activate Article 44 of the Constitution, providing for a referendum in the case of draft laws regulating major social issues.

    PASOK parliamentary spokesman Christos Papoutsis said the proposal as very important, adding that his party accepts its rationale. He also called on SYRIZA to accept PASOK leader George Papandreou's proposal for an immediate meeting of political parties represented in Parliament to press forward with specific proposals.

    A statement accepting the referendum proposal was later issued by LA.OS as well.

    Only one referendum has ever been held in Greece following the restoration of democracy in 1974, namely, whether or not a constitutional monarchy would be re-established. A referendum on the issue, held in December 1974, overwhelmingly opposed the reinstitution of a constitutional monarchy for the country.

    Accession to the European Union and the EMU were also ratified by Parliament, without a referendum.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo SYRIZA leader Alekos Alavano


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