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Athens News Agency: News in English, 02-12-03

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] DM presents Greek EU presidency's defense priorities to WEU assembly
  • [02] Danish presidency pushes for Cyprus solution before Copenhagen
  • [03] Finnish PM says solution not a precondition for Cyprus' EU accession
  • [04] Foreign Exchange Rates - Wednesday
  • [05] Weather Forecast: Rain, storms expected on Wednesday
  • [06] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks under pressure, end lower

  • [01] DM presents Greek EU presidency's defense priorities to WEU assembly

    03/12/2002 23:26:09

    PARIS (ANA - O. Tsipira) - Greek Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Tuesday presented the priorities of the Greek EU presidency on Europe's Policy of Security and Defense to the plenum of the parliamentary assembly of the Western European Union (WEU).

    The WEU 48th parliamentary assembly, which Papantoniou addressed, began on Monday and will last until Thursday.

    The Greek minister stressed that one of the priority objectives of the Greek presidency will be to convince the member-states to increase their defense spending immediately, as in all cases the defense spending of EU states do not exceed 1 per cent of their GDP, with the exception of Greece, which spends 5 per cent of its GDP.

    To force the issue, he said, the Greek government will table the issue during the upcoming European Councils and clarified that Greek Premier Costas Simitis has already made relevant discussions with other European leaders.

    He added that he would send a relevant letter to European Commission President Romano Prodi and to EU high representative on defense and foreign policy Javier Solana over the next few days, asking them to cooperate with the Greek presidency toward a comprehensive discussion of the issue of the finances of the European defense, research and technology in one of the upcoming European Councils.

    Papantoniou said that the prospect of increased defense spending should force changes to the Stability Pact, aiming to confront the European defense budgets to provide national government with the ability to confront the negative effects of economic fluctuations.

    ''We say yes to the ability for the development of an autonomous defense European Policy in conjunction with the development of an equitable relation with NATO and the United States, for the widening of the circle of those defense activities that we will be able to undertake in common,'' Papantoniou said.

    ''This is the Greek presidency's policy and more so Greece's position in Summits,'' he added.

    [02] Danish presidency pushes for Cyprus solution before Copenhagen

    03/12/2002 23:21:10

    The Danish presidency of the EU appeared determined to push for a solution to the Cyprus issue before the Copenhagen summit on December 12, during talks held by Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller in Athens on Tuesday.

    After a working dinner with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Moller said he was convinced that a solution could be achieved before the EU leaders met to ratify enlargement and Cyprus' accession to the Community.

    He clarified that a solution to the Cyprus problem was not a condition for Cyprus' EU accession but reiterated that the EU would ''take all the facts into account'' at the specific time.

    Papandreou said that the time before the Copenhagen Summit was very short but that every effort had to be made so that the historic opporunity for a solution was not lost.

    In cryptic statements after a meeting with main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis earlier in the day, Moller had refused to answer directly on whether a solution to the Cyprus issue was a condition for Cyprus accession, saying only that the Helsinki Summit decisions of 1999 called for ''everything to be taken into account'' if the island was still divided.

    The question referred to reports about the existence of a Danish presidency document in which the two issues were linked.

    ''I still believe that there is hope, that there is time to complete the negotiations so that Cyprus can unite and join the EU as a united island,'' the Danish foreign minister told reporters.

    Asked about the prospects of a Greek veto to enlargement over Cyprus, Moller appeared to downplay this possibility, saying that Greece would then inherit the presidency and all the problems that a veto to enlargement would cause.

    [03] Finnish PM says solution not a precondition for Cyprus' EU accession

    03/12/2002 23:17:21

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Finnish counterpart Paavo Lipponen discussed the Cyprus issue on Tuesday, while both stressed that a solution to the issue is not a precondition for Cyprus' accession to the European Union.

    Lipponen reminded that it had been decided at the Helsinki summit, during Finland's presidency, that ''even if the Cyprus problem is not resolved, we must proceed and Cyprus should join. And this is precisely what we are doing now.''

    Simitis said ''a serious effort should be made by all sides on the Cyprus issue to enable negotiations to have a positive outcome,'' adding that the EU's Copenhagen summit ''should send a positive message to Turkey to facilitate support for the effort being made by the country's European forces.''

    Referring to the priorities of Greece's EU presidency, he stressed the assessment of the course being covered by the ''Lisbon strategy'' and the handling of illegal immigration.

    Simitis accepted Finland's request for the Northern Dimension to be discussed, meaning north European cooperation in the environment, health and energy sectors.

    Lipponen reminded that his country joined the EU during Greece's presidency and thanked Simitis for support he is providing for the Northern Dimension and agreed that ''reformist forces in Turkey should be supported,'' while what should happen in the discussion on ''the future of Europe'' is that ''countries of a medium and small size should be in contact with each other to enable a balanced text.''

    [04] Foreign Exchange Rates - Wednesday

    03/12/2002 18:40:25

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank

    U.S. dollar 1.004

    Pound sterling 0.642

    Danish kroner 7.485

    Swedish kroner 9.108

    Japanese yen 125.0

    Swiss franc 1.483

    Norwegian kroner 7.333

    Cyprus pound 0.577

    Canadian dollar 1.564

    Australian dollar 1.797

    [05] Weather Forecast: Rain, storms expected on Wednesday

    03/12/2002 18:31:30

    Rain and storms are forecast on the mainland and in the Ionian, spreading to the rest of the country by the end of the day. Winds southerly, strong to very strong, turning gale force in the Aegean and Ionian. In the north, temperatures will range from 09C to 16C; in the Ionian and on the rest of the mainland from 11C to 18C; and in the Aegean islands from 14C to 19C. Temperatures in Athens between 13C and 18C; and in Thessaloniki from 12C to 15C.

    [06] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks under pressure, end lower

    03/12/2002 18:10:27

    The Athens bourse finished lower on Tuesday, with stocks coming under pressure across the board, especially high capitalisation paper, traders said.

    The general share index shed 1.33 percent to end at 1,867.59 points. Turnover was 149.2 million euros, including a block trade in HBC Coca Cola worth 65 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 1.27 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalisation paper 0.59 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities finished 0.44 percent down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 232 to 102 with 29 issues remaining unchanged.

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