jump to navigation

Santorini wines are gaining abroad June 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.
comments closed

Santorini wines are gaining their place on dinner tables abroad > Efforts to promote Santorini wines abroad are starting to pay off as wineries from the Greek island make inroads into foreign markets.

A series of initiatives have been launched in a bid to introduce the wine to foreign palates, including promotional events at last month’s World Sommeliers Competition held in Rhodes, an event which attracted wine experts from about 47 countries around the world.

Konstantina Chryssou Hatzidaki, owner of Hatzidakis winery, said that her 70,000 bottles-per-year winery is looking into expanding into the Netherlands and Belgium after penetrating the difficult French market. “We are looking at Belgium. A market which is next to France where we have built a good reputation,” said Hatzidaki.

The winery has been exporting to France since 2004. The business, which began operating in 1997, exports around 40 percent of its output to countries including the US, England and Germany. The figure is expected to rise over the next few years, particularly in the US. “The English market has warmed to our product. Our wines show the good side of the Assyrtiko grape of Santorini,” she added.

Greek-product centers in four big cities abroad June 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
comments closed

The government is going ahead with plans to create four centers abroad for the promotion of Greek products and investments, in a joint initiative involving the Economy and Foreign Ministries and the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (OPE).

The centers will operate in New York, Moscow, London and Hong Kong through public-private partnerships. At the official opening of the National Exports Council conference yesterday, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said the creation of the centers will start in the second half of the year.

Other initiatives set out for the second half of the year are the strategy to promote the sale of construction materials and services in selected target markets, which Alogoskoufis will officially announce today at noon at the Athinais Center in Athens, two business missions to Russia and Brazil, and a special program to promote Greek services and products in China, in the context of the two countries’ Olympic and cultural cooperation.

A 10 million euros advertising campaign is planned abroad to promote Greek products, along with a domestic drive to motivate local firms to take part in OPE’s outward-looking activity.

Alogoskoufis stressed that the measures taken to date had helped exports grow, increasing by 8 percent in 2005 year-on-year, by 8.8 percent in 2006 and by 10 percent in the first four months of 2007. The resolving of export-related problems had also helped, he added. These include the return of value-added tax, the completion of the electronic register of exporters, the creation of a database to facilitate market access and the upgrading of services offered by OPE.

Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said the rise in GDP revenue from exports totaled 8.8 percent in 2006, up from 7.1 percent in 2004, and this year’s target is 9.8 percent.

Cypriot banks grow June 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
comments closed

Commercial banks extended further in May their share in the Cyprus loans market at the expense of cooperative societies, Cyprus’ Central Bank figures showed yesterday.

Analysts say increased commercial bank market share reflects a preference for euro-denominated loans as the island is poised to join the eurozone on January 1, 2008.

Commercial banks increased their share to 76 percent of the 17.1 billion Cyprus pounds credit market (29.6 billion) compared to 74 percent in May 2006, following a 24.9 percent year-on-year increase in bank credit. Loans by cooperative societies increased by 12.5 percent year-on-year.

“Co-ops have a limited capacity for loans in foreign currency,” said Sophronis Eteocleous, Manager of Economic Planning and Research at Marfin Popular Bank. “They have less flexibility in pricing and promotion of their products,” he added.

Michalis Florentiades, Head of Economic Analysis and Research of Hellenic Bank, said commercial bank credit should also factor in an increased share of the market from local councils. “Some municipalities have turned their backs on co-ops. Otherwise, the increase of banks’ market share would have been lower,” he said.

Acknowledging that co-ops had lost some Municipality business, Cyprus’s largest cooperative said it would not offer euro-denominated loans until the changeover. “We are not profit-oriented. If we see our profits surging we can afford to lower rates,” said Nearchos Ioannou, General Manager of the Limassol Cooperative Savings Bank.

Cooperatives, once the mortgage borrower of choice for many Cypriots, have embarked on a major consolidation drive to become more competitive. Ioannou says the bank is pushing consumer loans, deviating slightly from its traditional role.

Watchdog investigates Cyprus power provider June 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy.
comments closed

Cyprus’ Competition Regulator said yesterday it has opened an inquiry into business practices of electricity operator EAC after power cuts on Wednesday triggered by a strike.

Workers at EAC, the sole electricity provider, held a work stoppage on Wednesday in a dispute with the government over supply methods for the introduction of liquefied natural gas to the market. Regulators said the move was essentially a denial of service and needed further investigation.

The EAC is the dominant energy supplier on the east Mediterranean island. The scheduled strike, in the midst of a heat wave that has killed four people since Sunday, caused sporadic power cuts. “The Competition Commission cannot remain indifferent to this situation, particularly when there is no alternative provider,” the commission’s chairman, George Christofides, told Reuters.

The EAC has locked horns with the Commerce Ministry over delivery methods for the introduction of liquefied natural gas to the market by 2009.

The government plans to open tenders later this year for the creation of storage units offshore, but the EAC has criticized those plans as a waste of money. The operator says onshore units are a better option.

Onshore units, the government responds, will take longer to create with the potential of overshooting Cyprus’s commitment to the EU to switch to cleaner forms of energy by 2009.

The EAC now runs the island’s fuel-fired power stations and has said it wants to maintain a key role in the LNG market too. Authorities have issued generation licenses to six other companies, but none have commenced operations.

Altec Telecoms’ new ADSL solution June 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web, Telecoms.
comments closed

Altec Telecoms yesterday presented two new integrated telecommunications solutions for broadband Internet users.

They are i-Call Easy Box, including wireless broadband access, and i-Call Unlimited, for wireless Internet and unlimited telephone calls to fixed numbers in Greece and in most countries abroad.

Related Links > http://www.altectelecoms.gr/home.asp?lang=2

Vueling Airlines starts flights to Athens June 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in News Flights.
comments closed

Low-cost Spanish carrier Vueling is starting flights to Greece, linking Athens with Barcelona and Madrid, Athens International Airport said yesterday.

Vueling, founded in 2004 and one of the smallest listed airlines in Europe, launched the Athens-Barcelona service on Wednesday with flights three times a week. It will add three more weekly flights from July 10. The carrier, with a fleet of 21 Airbus A-320 jets, is also flying to Madrid three times a week as of yesterday, it said.

“Our clients will now have the opportunity to fly at one-fourth of the cost. Up until recently, flying to Athens for 50 euros seemed like a dream,” Vueling Marketing Manager Alfons Claver said in a statement.

Related Links > http://www.vueling.com/EN/index.php

Hamza Bey Mosque revealed June 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
comments closed

The 15th century structure in the heart of Thessaloniki is in the process of complete restoration

hamza_bey.jpg  A view of the exterior and the spaces that housed the shops > The removal of layers of plaster revealed the Byzantine-style construction of the walls. Columns and Early Christian capitals, 5th-6th century, had been incorporated into modern structures.

For four centuries, the faithful thronged beneath the grand dome of Hamza Bey Mosque at the junction of Venizelou and Egnatia Streets, the two roads that linked the port with the northern gate of the walled city of Thessaloniki. For the past 80 years it was concealed behind the windows of stores, mainly shoe stores, which had distorted its architecture.

Hamza Bey, also known as Alkazar after the cinema in its pillared courtyard, was one of the first mosques built in Thessaloniki after the fall of Constantinople, and one of the few examples of early Ottoman architecture in the Balkans.

Inaccessible to the architectural authorities, the mosque had been crumbling for years. When the Red Cross, which owned the building, handed it over to the Culture Ministry in 2006, the Ninth Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities got the go-ahead to restore it. After lengthy legal procedures, the stores were removed and the monument was opened up, revealing the extent of human intervention.

As ephorate officials explained, the building had survived earthquakes large and small, as well as a fire worse than the one in 1917, but it had been made unrecognizable inside and outside by modern interventions. The spaces on the perimeter of the mosque had been divided by walls and partitions to make stores. Marble columns and Early Christian capitals were embedded in walls or painted over, while the floor was raised for the cinema. Sections of the 1.5-meter thick external wall were demolished to make larger windows, and arched arcades were built, making the pillared courtyard disappear. Owners had built basements.

“The additional structures and illuminated signs made it impossible to discern the architecture of the building.” archaeologist F. Vachtsevanou said. Archaeologists and architects expect it to start looking more like a mosque by the end of the year, but say it will be a long time before the edifice acquires its original form.

The original building of the Hamza Bey Mosque was built in the second half of the 15th century. The cinema was built in the atrium of the mosque, closing off the pillared courtyard. As work progresses, the arcade is emerging from behind the screen and the walls of the cinema.

The original mosque was built by Hafsa, the daughter of Turkish official Hamza Bey, in the second half of the 15th century, during the reign of Murat II. It is thought that there had been a convent on the site, a tradition that the Ottomans respected after the fall of Constantinople by building a mosque founded by a woman.

It was built along the lines of the holy city of Mecca. A square room with a 17-meter dome is illuminated by eight arched windows and a circular skylight. Twenty-two marble columns with 15 Early Christian capitals, 5th-6th century, support the arcades that surround the atrium.

The building stopped being used as a mosque after the liberation of Thessaloniki (1912). It was listed for preservation in 1926 as part of the exchange of properties of the mufti of Thessaloniki. In 1927, it became the property of the National Bank, which sold it at auction to a private owner, who donated it to the Red Cross after the fall of the colonels’ junta in Greece in 1974.