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Athens News Agency: News in English, 04-04-08
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Foreign Exchange Rates:Thursday08/04/2004 11:29:12
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank
U.S. dollar 1.219
Pound sterling 0.663
Danish kroner 7.505
Swedish kroner 9.234
Japanese yen 128.9
Swiss franc 1.570
Norwegian kroner 8.450
Cyprus pound 0.590
Canadian dollar 1.594
Australian dollar 1.599
 Weather Forecast: Sunny on Thursday08/04/2004 11:29:06
Sunshine is forecast in all parts of the country with scattered cloud in the north and west. Winds south-southwesterly, moderate to strong. Temperatures in Athens from 12C to 24C and in Thessaloniki between 10C and 21C.
 Cyprus president in address to the nation calls for a 'no' vote to Annan's plan08/04/2004 00:46:55
NICOSIA (ANA/G. Leonidas) - In an address to the nation on Wednesday night, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos declared that he rejects UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem because it does not fulfill the minimum targets which he had raised for the workability of the state and the safeguarding of the rights of the citizens.
In his address, which lasted 52 minutes, President Papadopoulos called on the people to say ''no'' in the referendum on April 24 on acceptance or not of the Annan plan.
He also said that the Turkish Cypriots will obtain all which the plan provides, 24 hours after the approval of the plan, while whatever the Greek Cypriots will take they will obtain sometime in the future.
The President of the Republic analysed the points of the Annan plan which he deemed negative for the Greek Cypriot side, such as restrictions in the acquisition of property, the return of refugees and the denial of the political rights of those who will return.
He added that the stay, even of a small number of Turkish troops and the increased guarantee rights, without the existence of the National Guard, creates conditions of insecurity for the Greek Cypriots.
President Papadopoulos said that the answer to the question for a solution would have been a resounding ''yes''. However, he said, ''the proposed solution does not reunite Cyprus, because there will be two states which will live separately and simply cooperate.''
In any case, he disagreed with the view that this will be the last chance for a solution to the Cyprus issue, adding that the prospects for a solution will be better, due to Cyprus' EU accession on May 1 and Turkey's aspirations to become a member. He added that the efforts for a solution will also continue after May 1.
Concluding, he said that ''the final decision and verdict will be the people's," but that he himself ''cannot accept to sign the Annan plan.''
President Papadopoulos, visibly moved, said he did not receive a state so as to deliver it as a community, and directing himself to the people, said:''I call on you to say a resounding no to the Annan plan.''
 Greece's letter of response to UN to be submitted Wednesday08/04/2004 00:27:17
Greece will submit a letter to the United Nations on Wednesday stating that it agrees with putting the ''Founding Agreement'' for Cyprus to separate referenda in the two Cypriot communities, as per UN secretary general Kofi Annan's letter of March 31 to prime minister Costas Karamanlis and in implementation of the New York agreement in February, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said.
The spokesman explained that Wednesday (today) was the deadline for submitting Greece's response, stressing that this action does not produce lawful consequences and does not anticipate the Greek Cypriots' response to the Annan plan.
Koumoutsakos said Greece's letter, which would be submitted by the country's permanent representative fo the UN, ambassador Vasilakis, in no way anticipated or pre-empted the outcome of the referenda.
He added that the two communities in Cyprus -- Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot -- were the sole authorities for deciding their future.
Under the New York agreement, provided both communities voted 'yes' to the Annan plan in simultaneous referenda on April 24 and following completion of the domestic process of evaluation of the plan, Greece and the other two guarantor countries of Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus would sign the Treaty for the new status quo in Cyprus, which would enter into effect as of April 29.
 Powell communicates with Greek and Turkish FMs on Cyprus issue08/04/2004 00:23:31
WASHINGTON (ANA/T. Ellis) - U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned his Greek and Turkish counterparts, Petros Molyviatis and Abdullah Gul, on Wednesday and called on them to contribute in the effort for acceptance of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem at the referenda on the island on April 24.
''The minister is actively involved, attempting to create a dynamic support of the UN Secretary-General's plan,'' State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters, noting that ''Mr. Powell spoke today with the foreign ministers of Greece and Cyprus.''
Having stressed that Powell is determined to do all he can in this direction and ''to help the people of Cyprus to enter the European Union on May 1 as one country,'' Ereli concluded by saying that during the talks he had, Powell reiterated that the Annan plan ''is just, balanced, offers a good framework and is to the benefit of the inhabitants of Cyprus.''
Ereli added that according to Washington's opinion, it is the only plan which can offer a solution to the protracted problem.
 Commission's report confirms bad state of fiscal condition, Greek FinMin08/04/2004 00:22:19
Greece's fiscal condition is in very bad state as confirmed by a European Commission's report, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Mr Alogoskoufis reiterated that the government would implement its pre-election policy platform taking into account current limitations.
''We will implement a programme that will aim to growth, employment and social cohesion and that will envisage restoring fiscal discipline and transparency in public finances,'' the Greek minister said commenting on the Commission's unfavourable forecasts for the country's fiscal deficit.
''The Commission forecasts confirm the serious condition of our fiscal situation,'' Alogoskoufis noted. He strongly criticised the country's previous government for ''irresponsible management'' and added that the government would complete a fiscal evaluation work by the end of April.
According to early estimates, Greece's fiscal deficit was currently at 2.95 percent of Gross Domestic Product, nearing the 3.0 percent ceiling set by the EU's Stability Pact.
 New tourism minister seeks dialogue on policy08/04/2004 00:19:34
The country's new tourism minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos, on Wednesday called for talks with political parties, local government and trade groups on forging a national tourism strategy for the next decade.
The immediate priority was to link the Greek tourism product to the Athens Olympics in August, a move to which the previous government had given inadequate attention, Avramopoulos told reporters after a meeting with sector trade groups.
 5.2 Richter quake on Greek-Albanian border08/04/2004 00:16:57
A strong earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale was recorded in the early morning hours of Wednesday at the Greek-Albanian border, and was felt in the prefectures of Florina and Kastoria. No damage was immediately reported.
The Athens Observatory's Geodynamic Institute and the Thessaloniki Aristotelion University's Geophysics Laboratory said the earthquake was recorded at 4:32 a.m., at a distance of 70 kilometers west of the town of Florina, with its epicentre at the Greek-Albanian border.
Απο το Γεωδυναμικό Ινστιτούτο του Εθνικού Αστεροσκοπείου Αθηνών και
A powerful earthquake of 6.7 Richter was recorded in the wider region in 1911, according to seismologists.
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