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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-07-23

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou on foreign policy issues
  • [02] Alpha Bank report on Bulgarian economy
  • [03] Saffron, the Gold of the Greek Earth

  • [01] Papandreou on foreign policy issues

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou expressed concern that a "hot incident" in the Aegean could transpire before the end of the summer, speaking on Thursday to his party's working group on foreign policy and defence.

    Moreover, he condemned violations of the Greek national airspace, the infringement of the Athens FIR and all other provocations committed by Turkey, while accusing the government of being unable to handle tough foreign policy and defence issues.

    Referring to Turkey's European course, the former foreign minister in repeated PASOK governments reiterated his party's support, underlining at the same time that the neighboring country has to fully meet its obligations undertaken when it became a candidate for EU accession. He pointed out that these are specific obligations toward Greece and the Republic of Cyprus as well as toward the European Union and all its member-states.

    On the continental shelf issue, Papandreou stated that the government has missed a historical chance, as he opined, provided by a strategy that envisions a resolution through the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

    He stated that the EU Summit meeting in December can be a milestone in the reviewing of Turkey's relations with the European Union, adding that Greece can redefine its relations with Turkey with determination and protect its interests in all issues directly affecting it such as, the illegal migration problem.

    "Greece should not consent in December without preconditions and tangible proofs on behalf of Turkey," he said, adding that "no one should consider Greece's stance in December as being a given."

    On the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) "name issue" and the recent visit of the UN envoy to Athens and Skopje, Papandreou stressed that the opposition has not been informed yet by the government on Matthew Nimetz's changes and reiterated that Greece should remain firm to its standing positions.

    Papandreou also reiterated his party's opposition to the reelection of Jose Manuel Barroso to the European Commission presidency.

    [02] Alpha Bank report on Bulgarian economy

    Bulgaria will have to convince international investors of its capability for a timely economic recovery although the country cannot implement its own monetary or foreign exchange policy, a report by Athens-based Alpha Bank stated on Thursday.

    Alpha Bank, in its weekly financial bulletin, said Bulgaria‚s current accounts deficit fell by 44.7 pct in the first five months of 2009 to 1.97 billion euros (or 5.8 pct of GDP), from 3.57 billion euros (10.5 pct of GDP) in the corresponding period last year, reflecting a 30.7-pct drop in exports and a 33.4-pct fall in imports over the same period.

    The report said a further cut in the deficit would face more hurdles because of a revaluation of both the nominal and trade weighed foreign exchange parity of the domestic currency as a result of a revaluation of the euro currency. The services‚ deficit, however, fell significantly to 16.9 million euros in the January-May period, from 245.5 million euros in the same period in 2008. Alpha Bank‚s analysts expect the country‚s current accounts deficit to remain below 12 pct of GDP this year, from 26 pct in 2008. Foreign direct investments recorded a 50 pct decline in net capita inflos (1.13 billion euros) in the five-month period, accounting for 57.5 pct of the current accounts balance.

    The Bulgarian economy fell 3.5 pct in the first quarter of 2009, while figures were expected to worsen in the second quarter after a 22.1-pct drop in industrial production in May and a rise in the unemployment rate to 7.3 pct of the workforce in June 2009, up from 5.97 pct in June 2008.

    The inflation rate was 3.7 pct in June, down from 3.9 pct in May and 4.8 pct in April 2008. Domestic demand is expected to be significantly dependent on a recovery of credit expansion, which slowed to 15.7 pct in May 2009, from 19.9 pct in April 2009.

    [03] Saffron, the Gold of the Greek Earth

    The Organic Red Saffron, produced by the renowned Kozani Saffron Cooperative, in Northern Greece, is a certified organic product that is distinguished for its excellent quality which places it in the Coupe Class, the top quality of Saffron in the world. Saffron, made from the dried stigmas of the crocus flower, is the worlds most expensive spice.

    Saffron cultivation is believed to date back to Prehistoric Greek times.

    The excavations in Knossos, Crete, brought to light some frescoes where saffron is depicted. The most famous of these frescoes is the "saffron gatherer", where it was depicted that there was a monkey amongst the yellow saffron flowers.

    Etymologically, the word crocus has its origin from the Greek word "croci" which means the weft, thread used for weaving on a loom.

    Mythologically, according to Ovid, the plant took its name from the youth Crocus, who after witnessing in despair the death of fair Smilax was transformed into this flower.

    Known since antiquity, saffron it was one of the most desired and expensive spices of ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans for its aroma, color and aphrodisiac properties.

    It was quite popular among the Phoenician traders, who carried it wherever they traveled. The ancient Assyrians used saffron for medical purposes.

    Hippocrates and other Greek doctors of his time, like Dioskourides and Galinos mention crocus as a drug or a therapeutical herb.

    From the writings of Homer, who calls dawn "crocus veil", Aeschylus, Pindar, and others, it is known that the crocus was considered a rare pharmaceutical plant of ancient Greece with unique properties. It is referred to throughout ancient history and in the course of many medical writings of the classical Greek and Roman times all the way to the Middle Ages.

    Another saffron use in ancient Greece was that of perfumery.

    The history of red saffron in modern Greece starts in the 17th century when traders from Kozani, Macedonia, brought the red saffron from Austria.

    For 300 years, Greek red saffron is systematically cultivated under the warmth of the Greek sun, in the rich soil of a unique area in Kozani, in western Macedonia.

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