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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/>
 PM Karamanlis: Joint effort on Cyprus does not end with the referenda23/04/2004 22:41:51
The joint effort on the Cyprus issue does not end with Saturday's referenda on the Annan plan, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said Friday, addressing a meeting of his ruling New Democracy party's (ND) central committee.
Karamanlis explained that if the outcome of the separate, simultaneous referenda in the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities was affirmative, Greece would encourage and contribute with all its power to help the new state ''stand on its feet'', while if the Annan plan was rejected, the popular will expressed by the Cypriots would be respected and efforts would be made to keep open the prospect of a resolution of the Cyprus problem.
The prime minister said that the positive aspects of the plan could prove to outweigh its negative aspects, inside the European Union, but stressed that the final responsibility rested with the citizens of Cyprus and pledged that Greece would respect and support whatever decision the Cypriots took.
''In any eventuality, we will all be at Cyprus' side the next day,'' he said.
Karamanlis reitereated his respect for the firm principle that ''Cyprus decides and Greece supports'', noting that on the next day (after the referenda) there will be national unanimity.
Turning to Greek-Turkish relations, Karamanlis said he insisted on the strategy of improving and reinforcing those relations, noting that he had told his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan at their recent meeting in Sarajevo on the sidelines of the SE Europe cooperation process conference that his government will support Turkey's European prospect and that Greece will back Ankara in every effort it makes for convergence with the EU.
The central committee was briefed on the developments in the Cyprus issue by Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, who reviewed events from the New York agreement up to and including the negotiations in Buergenstock, as well as the situation in Cyprus.
Molyviatis said that, in reality, no negotiations of substance took place in Buergenstock, but rather ''parallel monologues'' took place, with the UN filling in the gaps.
 Cypriot 'no' won't mar Greek-Turkish ties, officials on both sides say23/04/2004 22:30:38
Relations between Greece and Turkey will remain good, regardless of the results of the dual referendum in Cyprus regarding the Annan peace plan on Saturday, officials on both sides reiterated on Friday.
Visiting Turkish State Minister Kursad Tuzmen, currently in Thessaloniki, stressed that Greek-Turkish bilateral ties were built on a ''very good and reliable basis'' and estimated that they would not be rocked by a 'no' vote in the referendum.
He also stressed that all sides would have to respect the decision made by the Cypriot people.
Greek government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, speaking at the regular press briefing in Athens, additionally noted the Greek government's standing support for Turkey's European prospects and that this position was also supported by Cyprus.
Commenting on the contrast with past Greek positions that Turkey's accession to Europe ''passes through Cyprus'', Roussopoulos said that the issue will be up for discussion in December, at which time Turkey will be expecting a firm date for the start of accession negotiations.
''I have already outlined the framework of the government's position,'' he added.
 Athens to strive for 'even tones' over Cyprus at EU meeting, spokesman says23/04/2004 22:28:23
Greece will strive to tone down negative reactions to the results of the referendum in Cyprus at the upcoming EU Ministers' Council meeting in Luxembourg on April 26-27 and avoid the sort of dramatic climate that might lead to a veto, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos told reporters on Friday.
He said that Greece will be represented by Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis at the meeting, which will discuss the legislative measures that will follow the accession of 10 new member-states to the EU on May 1, as well as the Council's first assessment of the results of Saturday's dual referendum on Cyprus regarding the Annan plan.
Koumoutsakos said the council's conclusions might well include a special paragraph about Cyprus prepared by EU Commissioner for enlargement Gunter Verheugen, which according to Greek sources will deal with the technical aspects arising from the referendum results.
As well as damage limitation from a possible 'no' vote on the Greek-Cypriot side, the spokesman said the Greek side will try to maintain the momentum for a Cyprus solution, noting that the EU had expressed political will for this.
 Kapa Research poll shows almost half of Athenians will not change vacation plans23/04/2004 22:28:16
An opinion poll presented by the Kapa Research company in the framework of the Tourism Panorama 2004 exhibition shows that almost half of the inhabitants of Athens will not change their vacation plans and will leave the capital in August, the period during which the Olympic Games will be taking place.
Replying to the question on whether they are thinking of leaving or staying in Athens during the Games, 45.1 percent of respondents said they will leave, compared to 41.5 who said they will stay and 10.6 who have not yet decided what to do.
August continues to be the most popular month for vacations with 56.3 per cent, followed by July with 27 and September with 7.7.
The poll also shows that the average amount of expenditures during vacations is 1,400 euros (100 euros a day), while an upward trend in the budget necessary for vacations is observed.
 Weather Forecast: Sunshine turning to rain on Saturday23/04/2004 19:26:55
Sunny weather is forecast in all parts of the country, turning to showers and storms from afternoon on the mainland and over the Ionian Sea. Winds variable, light. Temperatures in Athens from 11C to 24C and in Thessaloniki between 10C and 21C.
 Foreign Exchange Rates: Monday23/04/2004 19:18:57
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank
U.S. dollar 1.198
Pound sterling 0.675
Danish kroner 7.501
Swedish kroner 9.210
Japanese yen 130.5
Swiss franc 1.572
Norwegian kroner 8.303
Cyprus pound 0.591
Canadian dollar 1.623
Australian dollar 1.635
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise, profit takers move in23/04/2004 19:09:46
The Athens bourse finished slightly higher with profit takers raking in gains in the wake of recent rises, traders said.
The general share index gained 0.23 per cent to end at 2,522.25 points. Turnover was 182.3 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 0.40 per cent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalisation paper 0.28 per cent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities dropped 0.03 per cent.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 153 to 131 with 81 issues remaining unchanged.
 Karamanlis: 'Wrong policies' plagued budget, economy in past years23/04/2004 16:27:15
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday emphasized that his government will absolutely implement the programme it unveiled during the campaign season, speaking at the first post-election meeting of the ruling partys Central Committee.
?We will responsibly implement our programme, without aiming for perfection, and without appearing as saviors; but we are determined to succeed,? he told the partys top cadres and deputies.
Karamanlis, Greeces youngest post-war leader, noted that the current period is extremely difficult, especially in light of the situation his government inherited from the previous PASOK government. In reference to the economy, he directly cited what he called ?wrong policies? of the past years, especially over the budget.
Without mincing his words, Karamanlis said the budget was plagued by ?false fiscal deficit figures? and by very low 3rd Community Support Framework absorption rates.
Moreover, Karamanlis again criticised what he called a wasteful and counter-productive state, while cautioning, however, that reforms will take place without ?surprises and conflicts?.
?There are no magic solutions, but the fact is that our country has found a different pace after the elections and has not wasted even an hour or day,? he said.
Regarding the closely watched preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Karamanlis said a significant portion of the delay has been overcome, whereas measures for a maximum level of security have been taken.
On his part, ND Secretary Vangelis Meimarakis said the extent of the partys election victory on March 7 defines the level of responsibility for the ruling party. As far as the upcoming June European Parliament elections are concerned, he said the campaign was not an easy proposition and that no election result is guaranteed, a reason why the partys grass roots must remain vigilant.
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