ECONOMY

In Brief

Greece says economics will improve politics with Turkey Greece yesterday renewed a pledge to promote Turkey’s closer ties with Europe and expand bilateral economic relations. «We shall do everything we can to facilitate Turkey’s European orientation… For us, deepening relations with our friends, the Turks, is a clear political choice, it is a historical imperative. We believe the best way for the two peoples to understand each other is economic cooperation, and in this we have recorded great progress in recent years,» said Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis after meeting visiting Turkey’s State Minister for External Trade Kursad Tuzmen. Tuzmen noted that the volume of bilateral trade has more than doubled since 1999 and said the target of $2 billion in 2004 is feasible. «There are 74 Greek companies active in Turkey and four Turkish companies in Greece – we are targeting a big increase in this number,» he added. The volume of bilateral Greek-Turkish trade rose 47.1 percent to a record $1.3 billion in 2003, with Turkey’s exports accounting for $902.64 million of that sum and Greece’s trade deficit rising 71.7 percent to $477.19 million. Gov’t unblocks delayed renewable-energy projects New Deputy Development Minister Giorgos Salagoudis yesterday approved licenses for wind parks, small hydroelectric and biomass projects in power production totaling a capacity of 199 megawatts. Approval for the licenses had been pending for periods of between two and 11 months after being cleared by the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE). Salagoudis has pledged that such unjustifiable delays will not be repeated and said yesterday that the ministry is working to reform the legal framework for renewable-energy projects, which will be subjected to broad dialogue with interested parties before being adopted. The reform, for which he has asked RAE to submit its proposals, will include setting objective assessment criteria and greatly simplifying the licensing procedure. Salagoudis has already held contacts with representatives of renewable-energy producing firms. Tellas Telecoms operator Tellas said it will scrap monthly fees for its pay-per-use broadband Internet service in a bid to get more people to sign up. «As of April 22, Internet users can have free access to ADSL services with no monthly fees,» the company said in a statement. Users will only pay for the time they stay connected to the Internet, Tellas added. Subscribers signing up before July 1 will not be charged the 25-euro activation fee. ADSL, or asymmetric digital subscriber line, services allow faster downloading of data over traditional phone lines. (Reuters) Plaisio Computers and office equipment retailer Plaisio posted a 19.4 percent rise in first-quarter pretax profit to 2.2 million euros. Plaisio said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 20.8 percent to 3.4 million euros. Sales came in at 57.6 million euros, up 34.3 percent on the same period last year. (Reuters)