EBEA looks forward to challenge of Turkish EU entry Turkey’s entry into the European Union would unavoidably have a serious influence on Greece’s economic interests and «we must tap the advantages we have as a neighboring country,» said Drakoulis Fountoukakos, chairman of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA). He stressed that exports are the most crucial tool of Greece’s growth policy and warned the country’s advantage of closer ties with Europe will not be guaranteed in future. Other EBEA officials said the two countries have found a framework for cooperation and drastically lessened the danger of armed confrontation. Azeris reaffirm interest in supplying natural gas Azerbaijan’s state-run natural gas company SOCAR reaffirmed its interest in supplying Greece through Turkey after three days of talks with the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) in Athens. «Initially, we intend to supply Greece with 500 million cubic meters as of 2006, and later supply the European market with 10 billion cubic meters annually through Greece. We need DEPA’s close cooperation for this purpose,» said SOCAR’s chairman, Natig Aliyev. Buses The Athens Bus Company (ETHEL) plans to buy 600 more buses by 2006 and extend the network of bus lanes, aiming to raise the percentage of commuters much higher than the present 50 percent of those journeying in the greater city area, officials said during events yesterday marking the 50th anniversary of the launching of the company’s original forerunner. Transport Minister Christos Verelis said the Athens bus fleet, a sizable part of which runs on natural gas, will hopefully become one of the best in Europe in the next two years. ETHEL today operates 1,845 buses in 321 lines, carrying 1.2 million passengers daily in 15,000 journeys. An exhibition of six buses, representative of various periods in the city’s postwar bus transportation system, and of accompanying photographs, is open at Village Entertainment Park, Rendi. Bank deal fails through Commercial Bank may not go ahead with a deal agreed earlier this year to buy 80 percent of Yugoslavia’s Kapital Banka as terms of the deal had not been met, a bank source said yesterday. «Commercial Bank is seriously considering the possibility of not proceeding with the acquisition of Kapital Banka, because until now the terms of the agreement have not been met,» a senior Commercial Bank source, responsible for the bank’s international operations, told Reuters. The source said Commercial Bank has not paid the agreed 23.5 million euros for the 80 percent stake as the terms of the deal had not been adhered to. (Reuters) Ferries Ferry operator ANEK Lines intends to appeal to the Sea Transport Regulation Authority against the Merchant Marine Ministry’s granting of an application by competitor Blue Star Ferries (BSF) to postpone the deployment of its Blue Star II on the Piraeus-Hania route from January 1 to March 4, sources said. ANEK claims the decision suggests favoritism, enabling Blue Star to skip its obligation to deploy the vessel for a minimum of 10 months a year, particularly in January and February when business is lowest. BSF said the change had been necessary to enable other vessels of the company to dock for maintenance and that Blue Star II will only dock for 20 days next year.