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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-02-04
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Market watchdog fines Hellenic Telecoms with 2.0 mln eurosGreek telecoms market watchdog on Wednesday imposed a 2.0 million euros fine on Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation for breaching telecommunications regulations. In a statement, the National Commission for Telecommunications and Post said the fine was imposed because Hellenic Telecoms failed to offer financial data as part of a pricing control for the year 2008.
 National Bank announces share buy-back programNational Bank plans a share buy-back program of 20 million shares at a price range between 5 and 60 euros per share in the period from February 9 to May 24, 2009. The share buy-back plan was approved by the bank's regular general shareholders' meeting held in April 17, 2008, covering up to 10 pct of its outstanding equity. The bank, in a statement, noted that share buy-back programs were optional and that their implementation was not to be discounted.
 DM briefs PASOK representativesDefence minister Evangelos Meimarakis met on Wednesday with the main opposition PASOK party policy representatives in the sectors of national defence and foreign affairs, Vasso Papandreou and Andreas Loverdos respectively, and PASOK's foreign policy and defence division member Michalis Karchimakis.
The meeting, which was also attended by deputy defence ministers Constantine Tassoulas and Yiannis Plakiotakis and chief of the National Defence General Staff (GEETHA) Gen. Dimitris Grapsis, was held to brief the PASOK representatives on defence ministry issues, according to a ministry announcement.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Loverdos noted that, during the December 18 and 20 meetings of parliamentary standing committee on foreign affairs and defence, he had requested briefings by the foreign and defence ministries on the tension in the Aegean, anticipating that the tension would be aggravated by the Turkish side in 2009.
Loverdos added that the defence minister had complied with this request, adding that the briefing was useful for PASOK's assessment of Greece's foreign policy
 FM addresses GPSG conf'Foreign 蘨nister Dora Bakoyannis outlined the factors that impact a country's international image, in an opening address to a two-day "Greek Politics Specialist Group" (GPSG) international conference in Athens on the theme "Images of Nations: Strategic Communication, Soft Power and the Media", reflecting on the images of nations in an internationalized environment with the focus on possibilities and prospects for Greece.
Bakoyannis referred to the case of Athens, comparing the city's international image during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games with that presented during last December's incidents.
"I remember very well - I was Mayor of Athens at the time - the endless efforts we made for 2004. Twenty-four interviews in a single day in the US, presenting a clean, safe, beautiful and hospitable Athens. As a result of the public image of the Olympic Games, tourism to Athens rose. For the first time, tourists were going not only to the islands, but also to Athens. Athens for Christmas. Athens, the city that was presented with and had the image that we desired, the result positive. December 2008. An Athens in flames, which had a problem, the banner on the Acropolis. I had said in parliament at the time that the people who raised the banner on the Acropolis should have thought of the magnitude of the damage they were causing to the country. No matter how much one invests in and fights for the country's public image, such a banner can destroy you entire effort," Bakoyannis noted, and rejected conspiracy theories that "certain circles" wanted to damage a country's image.
"There are no journalists who live and work for damaging the international image of a country. In Greece, we have full democracy, with institutions that function, which allow freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and we have the fortune of capitalizing on the efforts and struggles of the many people who fought before us," the foreign minister said.
Greece, she continued, was an equal member of NATO and the European Union, "but its public image has gone through good and bad moments".
"Who created the good and bad moments? We did. We, alone. We are the ones who must back our country, who must promote our country internationally. It is we who must protect our country from pictures that do an injustice to the essence because, indeed, those 20 days in December are not characteristic of Athens. Athens is not like that every day. There was a specific period during which we faced a problem. But it will require time to change that image that was created internationally, while the financial cost is being paid by Athens today. Perhaps, in realizing how important our country's image is, we may better protect it," Bakoyannis said.
Turning to the mass media, the foreign minister noted that the rapid technological developments of the past two centuries have "drastically changed the mode of communication and information and have brought new, advanced means into our daily lives that have managed to be less resistant to the speed of thought, enabling speedy and immediate externalization of our ideas. With the advent of the Internet, we entered the era of individual information," she said.
She further added that, since the end of the Cold War "the political world as well as the communication environment have changed dramatically, while in the area of international relations, the old certainties have been replaced by the new uncertainties".
"New conflict lead to new balances and new alliances of balances. Under those conditions, the mass media are considered to play an important role in the foreign policy of the member nations of the international community and substantially impact the image the world has of a foreign country, since most people cannot have a personal experience or direct contact with the countries. The image of a country is the result of its geographical position, its history, its culture, its famous personalities, but chiefly of its formal positions and views that it systematically expresses and maintains in its relations with the other countries and other agencies," Bakoyannis explained. She noted as an example the coverage of the election of the new US president, Barack Obama, which se said had proved the power of the image in our age. "The image promoted by the international mass media in all the countries of the world was so powerful that it was able, albeit during that specific period of time, to alter the way in which many societies perceived and approached the US," she noted.
Bakoyannis clarified, however, that a country's image was not an instantaneous result. "It is not a measurable index that can be easily changed from one day to the next. The image of a country has both duration and continuity. The countries accrue an aggregate of specific qualities, advantages and disadvantages that, when they become entrenched in the collective memory, are difficult to change," the foreign minister concluded.
The Greek Politics Specialist Group (GPSG) of the UK's Political Studies Association >http://www.psa.ac.uk< (PSA), founded in 2004, is an international, non-profit network of leading experts on Greek politics.
The issues to be examined at the Conference, which is being held under the aegis of the Greek foreign ministry, include:
路 Internet as a tool of public diplomacy and foreign policy
路 The image of nations as projected in TV news casts and in newspapers
路 Soft power as a part of the high-level strategy of states
路 The role of strategic communication in managing the image of a nation, with emphasis on approaches to international relations, public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy and nation branding
路 Institutional dimensions of shaping policies regarding a state's image
Caption: Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis address at a two-day "Greek Politics Specialist Group" (GPSG) international conference in Athens on Wednesday 4 February 2009. ANA-MPA/ALEXANDROS BELTES
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