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Athens News Agency: News in English, 04-04-02
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Deputy FM says NATO enlargement seals end of an era02/04/2004 22:58:26
BRUSSELS (ANA/G. Zitouniati) - Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis, speaking at the informal meeting of the NATO alliance's foreign ministers here on Friday, said ''the enlargement of the alliance seals the end of an era, the end of divided Europe and a new starting point.''
Valynakis further said ''Greece welcomes seven new members in NATO today (Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), two of which are from our neighbourhood (Bulgaria and Romania).''
NATO's foreign ministers examined a series of additional measures against terrorism which will be finalised at the impending session in Istanbul, Turkey, in June, as well as upgrading cooperation with the European Union and other international organisations.
 Bush refers to Cyprus during Greek Independence Day ceremony at White House02/04/2004 22:56:12
WASHINGTON (ANA T. Ellis) US President George W. Bush honored Greek Independence Day at a special White House ceremony this past week in the presence of Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis, the ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus, Archbishop of America Demetrius and representatives of expatriate organisations in the United States.
Bush referred to the strong bonds that comprise Greek-US friendship, the upcoming visit here of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, the Cyprus issue as well as Olympic Games of Athens and the Greek-American communitys contributions.
He met separately before the ceremony with Skandalakis, with the latter saying that Cyprus came up repeatedly in the talks.
Moreover, the Greek Deputy FM reiterated that the US President noted that Washington wants to stand by and aid in the solution to the problem, without imposing a solution of its own. Skandalakis also mentioned that Bush said that it was up to the people of Cyprus decide what is in their best interests.
 Papandreou addresses PASOK National Council meeting, criticises ND02/04/2004 22:56:03
Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou launched a strong attack against ruling New Democracy (ND) party during the Movement's National Council meeting in Athens on Friday.
Papandreou expressed his concern on the manner with which ''the new government stands towards the responsibility which it has undertaken,'' particularly with regard to the Cyprus issue and the Olympic Games.
With regard the Cyprus problem, he said that the government maintained ''an embarrassing and almost neutral stance at the most critical and delicate moment of the final proposal and consequently of the negative developments on the Cyprus issue the day before yesterday.'' He added that this stance by the government ''is not the best omen'' on the national issue.
 Austria and Greece to cooperate on waste management issues02/04/2004 22:54:43
VIENNA (ANA/D.Dimitrakoudis) - Isabella Kossina, Executive City Councillor for the Environment of the Municipality of Vienna, Austria, heading a 10-member Austrian delegation, will participate in the second Greek-Austrian Environmental Symposium to be held in Athens on Tuesday, April 6.
Kossina will refer to Vienna's long tradition, excellent track record and advanced technology the city's municipality possesses in waste management as well as to the potential for cooperation between the two countries based on existing Greek-Austrian programs.
Vienna's waste management facilities are considered the most advanced in Europe and are able to manage waste without burdening the environment. The facility has been operating since the early 1960s.
Seventy experts from Austria and Greece will be attending the Symposium organised by the Municipality of Vienna, the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)in cooperation with the Greek financial newspaper Express and the Austrian publishing company Boehmann.
 Weather Forecast: Mostly sunny on Saturday02/04/2004 19:14:51
Mostly sunny weather is forecast in all parts of the country with some scattered cloud. Winds variable, light to very strong. Temperatures in Athens from 9C to 16C and in Thessaloniki between 5C and 14C.
 Foreign Exchange Rates: Monday02/04/2004 19:09:37
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank
U.S. dollar 1.241
Pound sterling 0.671
Danish kroner 7.505
Swedish kroner 9.296
Japanese yen 129.3
Swiss franc 1.576
Norwegian kroner 8.475
Cyprus pound 0.590
Canadian dollar 1.623
Australian dollar 1.622
 Parliament-Cyprus developments-Party leaders02/04/2004 18:18:18
Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou said Fridaythat his party would take a position on the fifth Annan plan ''with cool-headedness'', being fully aware that ''for the first time we are so close to a solution'', adding that ''in the framework of the EU, it is possible to expand the positive points of the plan''.
Papandreou also announced his acceptance of prime minister Costas Karamanlis'call for a meeting of the political party leaders chaired by President Costis Stephanopoulos to discuss the latest Cyprus developments.
The main opposition leader said he had no intention at this time to make any criticism on the government's handling of the Buergenstock negotiations, since ''it would be a mistake to create a climate of national defeatism...''. He did, however, point to his own contacts with the Irish presidency of the EU, with UN secretary general Kofi Annan, with EU enlargement commissioner Gunther Verheugen, EUHigh Representative for Security and Defence Policy Javier Solana, and Annan's special adviser on the Cyprus issue Alvaro de Soto, and defended the preceding PASOK governments' handlings, rejecting insinuations that the current Greek government had gone to Switzerland ''with its hands tied''.
Equally mistaken, Papandreou continued, was the credo that ''Cyprus decides, Greece supports'', calling it a ''convenient, no-cost policy'' that did not meet Greece's obligations to Cyprus.
''Naturally we respect the view of independent Cyprus and the Cypriot people and Hellenism, but we, too, have an opinion. It is our duty, as a country, to analyse the Annan plan and formulate our own, Greek, position, withing hiding behind convenient schemes,'' Papandreou said.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, in turn, described the Annan plan as ''unjust and dangerous'', adding that ''it is of no significance whether it will be viable''.
Papariga said that the Buergenstock process had not been anything new, but a procedure that sealked everything that had been taking place for many years, officially and unofficially.. She also said it did not constitute a ''negotiation'', adding that it was positive that the process had ended without a signature forthcoming from the Greek government and the Greek Cypriot parties.
Regarding the positions of the two main parties of the country, she criticised prime minister Costas Karamanlis of finding himself in the face of ''faits accomplis'', noting that ''as the main opposition party (before it took over the government in March) it had the right to intervene''.
She also criticised current main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, claiming that ''during the PASOK term in office we were on the verge of finding a solution'', but the ''situation went awry'' with the Buergenstock procedure.
Papariga further said that regardless of the result of the referendum, the KKE would remain at the side of the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Coalition of the Radical Left (SYN) leader Nikos Constantopoulos advised ''cool-headed study of the pros and cons'' of the final Annan plan, noting that ''SYN will have an opinion, taking also into consideration the positions of the Cypriot Left'', and adding that it was in favour of a ''functional, viable and just solution''.
He advised that what should be examined was whether the Annan plan was a ''springboard for improvements, or for snags''.
Constantopoulos said that the New York agreement had been a ''mistaken handling aimed at the Greek side not being credited with the weight of a prospective negative stance, with a wrong assessment of Denktash's stance (Turkish prime minister) Erdogan's decisions regarding Turkeys accession to the EU''.
Taking the podium again after the opposition party leaders, Karamanlis stressed that ''the Cypriots have the first say'', since it was they who were ''called on to live with the new reality'', commenting on Papandreou's criticism as to whether Greece should be supportive or a protagonist. ''We neither want, nor can, impose views on them'', he said, adding that Athens supported, actively participated, and undertook initiatives after conferring with Nicosia.
Karamanlis expressed his satisfaction with the level of the parliamentary discussion and the ''lack of easy slogans''.
 PM Karamanlis to ask President to call party leaders' meeting on Cyprus issue02/04/2004 18:07:56
Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday told parliament that he intended to ask President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos to call a meeting of political party leaders, under the President's chairmanship, to discuss the Cyprus issue, particularly in view of separate referenda to be held later this month in the two Cypriot communities on UN secretary general Kofi Annan's final Cyprus plan.
In an urgent, off-the-agenda discussion called by the premier to brief the 300-member unicameral parliament on the outcome of UN-led Cyprus talks in the Swiss town of Buergenstock, that ended Wednesday night without the two sides reaching agreement on the Annan plan, Karamanlis warned that ''in no instance is there room for danger-mongering'' and that ''outbursts and sentimentalities are of no benefit'', adding that ''constant effort, maturity and prudence are demanded by the circumstances''.
He called on all the Greek people and all the political forces for ''national unanimity'' and to ''join forces''.
Karamanlis reiterated that ''the final decision'' on the Annan plan belonged to the people of Cyprus.
''The Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, in separate referenda, will make their coice, with maturity, by weighing all the facts, and with foresightedness for the future,'' the premier said.
As for the Greek government's position on the Annan draft solution for Cyprus, numbering some 10,000 pages, Karamanlis said that the government would assess all the factors involved, and would announce its decisions ''at the appropriate time''.
Karamanlis further tabled, for the parliament minutes, the two texts submitted to the UN chief containing the Greek government's proposals on the security aspect and the compatibility of the Annan plan with the EU's acquis communautaire, as per the UN Secretary General's request to all the sides to submit their comments on his fourth (revised) plan. The premier explained that the Greek comments had been submitted to the UN chief in agreement with the Greek Cypriot side.
As for Annan's ''final text'' (fifth plan) itself, Karamanlis said it was being assessed in detail by the appropriate services. This final text, which would be put to the referenda, was ''basically the initial text, with amendments, and it is obvious that it is a compromise text with positive and difficult points for all the sides,'' the premier explained.
Karamanlis also described in detail the entire course of the deliberations on the Cyprus issue since New Democracy took over the government and up to the delivery of Anna's full plan to the political parties on Thursday morning, noting that the plan required ''detailed study, so that the citizens may bee informed precisely on the provisions of the plan'', and adding that he was at the disposal of the parties ''today and in the near future'' on the issue.
The Greek prime minister further explained that he had responded in the affirmative to Annan's personal invitation for him to attend the final stage of the Buergenstock negotiations ''so as to contribute to achieving a solution'', but also ''because I consider it my firm obligation to devoutly adhere to my country's obligations emanating from the New York agreement''.
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