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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 04-12-23
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 TWENTY THOUSAND PROTEST SIGNATURESChicago, 23 December 2004 (14:31 UTC+2)
Over 20,000 signatures were collected in response to the call issued by the Council for Hellenes Abroad, SAE, in protest to the decision of the US government to recognize FYROM under the name "Republic of Macedonia".
According to SAE vice-president and coordinator of the Region of North and South America Christos Tomaras a great boost was given to the effort by the immediate response of Metropolite Iakovos of Chicago and expressed gratitude for his cooperation.
Mr. Tomaras expressed optimism that this move will make the US political leadership to reexamine and change the US policy toward FYROM.
 KARAMANLIS: THE COMMITMENTS WE HAVE UNDERTAKEN ARE IN FULL EFFECTAthens, 23 December 2004 (13:49 UTC+2)
The commitments we have undertaken are in full effect, stated in Parliament Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis closing the debate on the 2005 state budget yesterday.
Mr. Karamanlis underlined that Greece moves with safe steps avoiding the road of missed opportunities. We have pledged to abolish the laws of corruption and we did it. The pressures do not dishearten us and we will not yield, stated the Prime Minister.
Earlier, main opposition Socialist Party of PASOK leader Giorgos Papandreou had predicted that the 2005 state budget will not be able to be implemented.
The 2005 state budget was passed last night with an open vote in Parliament.
Of the 300 Parliament deputies present, in favor voted 165 (all the governing party of New Democracy deputies and independent deputy Stelios Papathemelis) and against 135 deputies (all the deputies of the three opposition parties PASOK, the Communist Party and Coalition as well as, independent deputies Andreas Andrianopoulos and Stefanos Manos).
 LOSSES IN THE ASEAthens, 23 December 2004 (17:13 UTC+2)
Losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -0.12% at 2712.72 points, while the volume of transactions was small at 127,8 million euros.
Of the stocks trading today, 71 had gains and 215 had losses, while the value of 134 stocks remained unchanged.
 TASSOS PAPADOPOULOS: THE GOAL IS TO SOLVE THE CYPRUS ISSUEAthens, 23 December 2004 (16:57 UTC+2)
Cypriot Republic President Tassos Papadopoulos stated in an interview with the Athens newspaper Imerisia a few days after the EU Summit meeting that the ability to exert pressures on Turkey has improved.
Mr. Papadopoulos explained that if he had used his veto power he would have offered to Turkey the excuse to cement the fait accompli of the invasion. He said that the veto is not an end in itself, it is a tool that was and still is in Cyprus' hands to make Turkey meet its obligations toward the EU and Cyprus. He added that Cyprus is not opposed to the European Turkey given the fact that Ankara this way will meet its obligations toward the EU and Cyprus. The veto is not necessary, in case there is no compliance, I can use the emergency brake as some said, Mr. Papadopoulos stated characteristically.
Referring to the relations with Athens, Mr. Papadopoulos pointed out that they are excellent. He said that he had excellent relations with the Simitis government and now with the government of Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, adding that Mr. Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Petros Moliviatis backed him all the way.
He said that the main goal of the Cypriot government is the solution of the Cyprus problem, adding that the Cypriot government wants a solution reached with the agreement of all involved parties and not a solution imposed by one on the other.
 FORMER KING KONSTANTINOS VISITED THE GREEK PRESIDENTAthens, 23 December 2004 (15:10 UTC+2)
Hellenic Republic President Kostis Stephanopoulos received former King Konstantinos today at the Presidential Building in Athens.
According to a statement issued by the Greek Presidency, Mr. Stephanopoulos received the former King at his request in order to visit the Presidential Building accompanied by his wife and members of their family.