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Athens News Agency: News in English, 03-06-12
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Simitis meets with Juncker in Luxembourg ahead of EU Thessaloniki Summit12/06/2003 23:17:33
LUXEMBOURG (ANA - G. Zitouniati) - Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who is presiding over the European Union Greek presidency, declared here that he is not interested in the position of European Commission president, during a joint press conference he held with Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker.
Responding to a relevant question during a press conference here, Simitis made the declaration, while Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, said that ''he would have been a excellent Commission president''.
Simitis met here on Thursday with Juncker and discussed issues related to the Thessaloniki summit agenda.
Speaking to journalists during a press conference after their two- and-a-half hour meeting, Juncker welcomed Simitis and lauded the Greek EU presidency's efforts and contribution in resolving difficult issues such as bank deposit interest taxation.
Simitis, who arrived here as part of the ''24 EU capital tour'' in preparation of the summit, which will be the peak and conclusion of the Greek EU presidency, focused on the summit's agenda.
The results of the Convention for the Future of Europe, the decisions for the new Intergovernmental Conference, immigration policy, the relations of the European Union with the Western Balkans and developments in Iraq and the Middle East topped the meeting's agenda, while the EU's common foreign and security policy were also expected to be addressed.
Simitis tabled the wish of the Greek presidency to arrive at a timetable for the Intergovernmental Conference in his talks with Juncker, which the presidency wishes to initiate in October or November and the signing of the new Treaty later in the year by all 25 EU member-states.
Simitis added that the Thessaloniki summit will examine EU-US relations, alluding that they are very significant for Europe and for this reason they have to be friendly and based on understanding and the seeking of common ground.
 Greek and Belgian PMs discuss Thessaloniki EU summit agenda12/06/2003 23:15:06
BRUSSELS (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) - Prime Minister and European Council President Costas Simitis and his Belgian counterpart Guy Verhofstadt discussed the agenda of the European Union's Thessaloniki summit here on Thursday and, in general, a considerable convergence of views was reached.
The two leaders appeared optimistic that they will be receiving a complete plan of the European constitution from Valery Giscard d'Estaing next week which, according to the Belgian prime minister, had been the dream of many Europeans for many decades. Simitis said on his part he is optimistic that the European constitution will be ratified by the Euro-elections in 2004.
The Belgian side reiterated the need for an increase in the European Commission's powers and an extension of the principle of a special majority in procedures for adopting EU decisions.
Simitis stressed the importance of consultations to take place to handle the issue of illegal immigration and for European defence, for which a special report will be provided by EU High Commissioner Javier Solana.
On the question of the European Commission's members having the right to vote in the future, the two prime ministers stated that all countries should have a commissioner, while Simitis said he knows by experience that a Commission composed of 25 persons presents operational problems which must be resolved.
 DM raises issue of national airspace violations with Turkish counterpart12/06/2003 23:14:59
Defence Minister and European Union Council President Yiannos Papantoniou raised the issue of national airspace violations in the Aegean by Turkish warplanes, and their possible repercussions, with NATO secretary Lord Robertson and his Turkish counterpart Vezdi Gonul during the NATO alliance's regular spring conference which got underway in Brussels on Thursday.
Papantoniou pointed out to Gonul that Turkish provocations have increased in frequency, compared to past years, and that Turkish airforce pilots insist on engagements and dog fights which creates serious risks for an accident to take place, which in turn could have grave consequences between the two countries and for stability in the region.
''I requested from the Turkish defence minister to take this indication by Greece into serious consideration, which is taking play simply and only to safeguard peace in the sensitive region of the southeastern area of the Mediterranean,'' he said.
Relations between the alliance and the EU were discussed during a dinner with NATO ministers on Wednesday and the Greek presidency's contribution in promoting the relevant agreement was recognised, but primarily covering shortages in weaponry systems which enabled the European army's first mission in Skopje, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as its full activation in 2003 in accordance with Europe's initial target.
Papantoniou said the functioning of the European army will be one of the main issues to be highlighted during the Thessaloniki summit as a great success for the Greek presidency.
Referring to issues discussed during the conference of NATO defence ministers, Papantoniou expressed satisfaction over the preservation of the airforce operation centre in Larissa with a Greek commander and double staff and despite the decrease in headquarters from 26 to 16 with the alliance's new structure.
 Simitis to arrive in Austria on Friday for meeting with Schuessel12/06/2003 23:12:32
VIENNA (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis) - Prime Minister Costas Simitis will arrive on Friday here to meet with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, for discussions on the Thessaloniki EU Summit agenda on Saturday.
Simitis will be arriving here, after his visit to Berlin and his stop in Vienna is part of the ''24 EU capital tour'' in preparation of the Summit, which will be the peak and conclusion of the Greek EU presidency.
The results of the Convention for the Future of Europe, the decisions for the new Intergovernmental Conference, immigration policy, the relations of the European Union with the Western Balkans and developments in Iraq and the Middle East are expected to top the meeting's agenda, while the Union's common foreign and security policy are also expected to be addressed.
 FM and U.S. State Department special coordinator discuss Cyprus issue12/06/2003 23:10:08
Foreign Minister George Papandreou held talks on Thursday with visiting U.S. State Department special coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston and said they discussed the next stages of the process, adding that the message from the U.S. coordinator is the steadfast adherence of the United States to the need to solve the problem of Cyprus.
Weston is currently on a tour of European capitals and the Athens, Ankara and Nicosia triangle.
''There is an impetus which started with the accession course of Cyprus and which is also imprinted now on the faces of the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who met and communicated recently, refuting the Cassandras who had claimed that they cannot live together,'' the foreign minister said, adding that this shows the need for an intensification of efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue.
Weston spoke on his part of a ''very good exchange of views'' and of ''positions which are very close'', regarding the next steps to be taken.
 Moderate earthquake between Thassos and Limnos islands12/06/2003 23:09:14
A moderate earthquake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale was recorded early Thursday in the northern Aegean Sea between Thassos and Limnos islands, but no damage was initially reported.
According to the Athens National Observatory's Geodynamic Institute and the Thessaloniki Aristotelion University's Geophysics Laboratory, the earthquake was recorded at 3:10 a.m. with its epicentre in the sea region between Thassos and Limnos.
 Bourse authorities to probe share moves of oil firms set for merger12/06/2003 21:06:03
Athens bourse authorities are to probe share movements of heavily traded Hellenic Petroleum SA and Petrola Hellas SA before the announcement last month of a merger between the two oil firms, the market's head, Panayotis Alexakis, said on Thursday.
Addressing a conference arranged by KPMG, Alexakis was apparently responding to a speech made earlier by the chairman of the Marfin Group, Andreas Vyenopoulos, who had said that both stocks had behaved oddly before the announcement.
Under the merger plan, state owned Hellenic Petroleum is to absorb private sector Petrola.
Two senior bankers - the deputy managing director of EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Nikolaos Karamouzis, and the deputy governor of the National Bank of Greece, Apostolos Tamvakakis - told the conference that their banks had not taken part in such transactions, and had not benefited from announcement of the planned merger.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - Friday12/06/2003 19:18:45
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank
U.S. dollar 1.182
Pound sterling 0.707
Danish kroner 7.483
Swedish kroner 9.164
Japanese yen 139.2
Swiss franc 1.550
Norwegian kroner 8.260
Cyprus pound 0.590
Canadian dollar 1.601
Australian dollar 1.783
 Weather Forecast: Hot and sunny on Friday12/06/2003 18:25:39
The day will be sunny in all parts of the country. Winds northerly, light to strong. In the Ionian, temperatures will range from 21C to 34C; on the mainland from 18C to 36C; and in the Aegean islands from 23C to 31C. Temperatures in Athens between 25C and 35C; and in Thessaloniki from 23C to 35C.
 Greek stocks jump to new highs on Thursday12/06/2003 16:43:23
Greek stocks rose to new multi-month highs on Thursday with the general index breaking above the 1,900 level reflecting increased buying interest in the Athens Stock Exchange.
The index rose 1.67 percent to end at 1,928.19 points, with turnover an improved 203.4 million euros.
The Publication, Insurance, Bank and Wholesale sector scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (10.49 percent, 5.12 percent, 3.61 percent and 3.09 percent, respectively), while Emporiki (7.14 pct), National (3.78 pct) and Alpha Bank (3.64 pct) were lead gainers in the bank sector.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 2.14 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.68 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index rose 2.50 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 1.93 percent up.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 268 to 61 with another 34 issues unchanged.
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