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Athens News Agency: News in English, 04-04-23
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Foreign Exchange Rates: Friday23/04/2004 10:04:44
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank
U.S. dollar 1.196
Pound sterling 0.676
Danish kroner 7.501
Swedish kroner 9.216
Japanese yen 131.1
Swiss franc 1.567
Norwegian kroner 8.319
Cyprus pound 0.591
Canadian dollar 1.626
Australian dollar 1.636
 Weather Forecast: Mostly sunny on Friday23/04/2004 10:04:36
Sunny weather is forecast in most parts of the country, with showers possible in eastern Macedonia and Thrace from early evening. Winds northerly, light to moderate, turning strong in parts of the Aegean. Temperatures in Athens from 8C to 20C and in Thessaloniki between 8C and 20C.
 Russian envoy explains to FM Moscow's veto at UN ahead of Cyprus referenda22/04/2004 23:43:28
In a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Thursday, Russian Ambassador to Athens Andrei Vdovin outlined the reasons for Russia's veto regarding Cyprus at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday night.
''I stressed that the veto had a technical nature and that our purpose was to ensure that the referenda can be conducted freely on Cyprus, without outside pressure or intervention. The Cypriot people must make decisions on their own about the issues that concern them,'' he said.
Vdovin said that Russia was prepared to continue talks at the Security Council after the referenda on all aspects of the Cyprus issue in order to resolve the problem.
Separate and simultaneous referenda will take place in the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities in Cyprus this Saturday for acceptance or not of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's fifth and final plan for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, in an address to the nation on April 7, had declared that he rejected Annan's plan 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 lengthy address, President Papadopoulos called on the people to say ''no'' in the referendum on April 24.
Cyprus President Papadopoulos stressed in Nicosia on Thursday night that he continues to seek a bicommunal, bizonal federation within the philosophy of the Annan plan, noting that documents such as this do not disappear but are revived.
In a live televised interview two days before a referendum on a UN
plan for a solution, he said that there is a strategy for the day
after and pledged to take such measures and make such moves to ensure
that the Turkish Cypriots would get those benefits they would have
had if they were in the European Union, if the outcome of the
referendum is negative.
Clarifying previous positions on the Annan plan, he said it
legitimacies some aspects of the Turkish occupation (such as the
presence of Turkish settlers and Turkish troops) with the agreement
of the Greek Cypriot side.
He said he and his associates continue to work to pinpoint to
elements in the plan that should be looked at when a new effort resumes.
''What we have achieved so far is not satisfactory, nobody is
overenthusiastic with the plan, the repercussions of a yes vote will
be irreversible, if a no vote is wrong, it can be rectified,'' he said.
Commenting on remarks by EU Commissioner Gunter Verheugen that he
felt cheated, Papadopoulos said he had never given any pledge to
anybody that he was ready to accept any solution, and stressed also
that he not only respects Verheugen but also thanks him very much for
the efforts he had made for Cyprus' accession.
 PM Karamanlis confers with ND secretary on central committee meeting22/04/2004 23:38:24
Ruling New Democracy party central committee secretary Vangelis Meimarakis on Thursday met with prime minister Costas Karamanlis to discuss the central committee's first meeting since last month's general elections that brought ND to power, scheduled for Friday.
The agenda for the Friday's meeting includes the Cyprus issue, analysis of the election results, and the European Parliament elections slated for June.
According to sources, the government considers Karamanlis' meeting Wednesday in Sarajevo with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan, on the sidelines of a SE Europe cooperation process conference, as having been ''productive'' and that the Turkish prime minister's upcoming visit to Athens indicated that neither country wanted the outcome of Saturday's referenda on the Annan plan in Cyprus to influence Greek-Turkish relations.
The sources said that Karamanlis will brief the central committee on the developments in the Cyprus issue, as well as on the policy line his government would follow in all sectors, adding that the prime minister was taking every opportunity to stress that the focus must be on the economic and the country's everyday problems.
They said that ND's objective for the Euroelections was to be the top party in votes, with a comfortable lead over main opposition PASOK party, adding that the outcome would be compared with that of the 1999 European Parliament elections.
 Economic cooperation will bring Greece-Turkey closer, Greek FinMin22/04/2004 23:34:49
The best way to understand each other is through economic cooperation, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told reporters on Thursday after a meeting with visiting Turkish State Minister for Foreign Trade Kursat Tuzmen.
Alogoskoufis added that it was historically needed to expand economic relations with Turkey and noted ''we will do whatever we can to facilitate Turkey's European orientation''.
Tuzmen said that trade relations between the two countries has made significant progress in the last few years and that this trend could continue in 2004. He noted that several Greek companies have activities in Turkey currently, while only four Turkish companies are activated in Greece.
The Greek minister said that certain technical issues, creating hurdles to bilateral relations, would be resolved by a commission soon to be formed by Greek and Turkish representatives.
Turkish companies are interested in exporting textiles, leather, clothing, children's clothes, olive oil and olives, dried food, fresh fruit and vegetables, building material, marble, paper, office furniture and mirrors to Greece.
Greece's trade deficit with Turkey jumped 71.7 percent in 2003 compared with the previous year, totalling 477.19 million US dollars.
Turkey's exports to Greek rose by 52.8 percent last year to 902.64 million dollars, while Greek exports to Turkey rose 36.16 percent to 425.45 million dollars.
Bilateral trade exceeded 1.3 billion dollars in 2003, up 47.1 percent from the previous year.
 Foreign minister and S. Korean counterpart meet in Athens22/04/2004 23:33:29
Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Thursday received visiting South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki-moon, who said his country's experience and expertise from the organisation of the Seoul Olympics was at Athens' disposal.
He expressed conviction that the Athens Games in August will be highly successful and upgrade the image of the Olympics in general.
The S. Korean minister also thanked Greece for the Greek troops sent to fight in the Korean war.
Molyviatis noted the traditionally good ties between Greece and South Korea and accepted an invitation to visit the latter.
Talks between the two men also touched on North Korea's nuclear arsenal and international terrorism, while Ban had earlier signed the Olympic Truce declaration.
 Ministers discuss smooth functioning of Athens during Games22/04/2004 23:31:06
Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis and Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis met at Attica's Police Headquarters on Thursday, where they discussed the smooth functioning of Athens during the Olympic Games.
''We don't want Athens to be a 'military-controlled' city. On the contrary, we want it to be an open city, a city of celebration, despite strict traffic regulations during those days; we want citizens to be able to get around without hassles, without getting stuck in traffic,'' Liapis said.
He also added that with Voulgarakis' cooperation, he's confident the capital will function smoothly.
The Zones which have been defined surrounding Olympic venues will be accessible to designated vehicles and to those residing or working in the area. The Athens 2004 Organising Committee for the Olympic Games is responsible for processing related permit requests.
Olympic routes will also be designated and will be accessible only to vehicles belonging to the Olympic Family, as well as emergency vehicles.
Chief of Police Fotis Nasiakos, police officers, and the Secretary General of the Transport Ministry were also present at the meeting.
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