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Athens News Agency: News in English, 02-11-19

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM says national consensus on Annan plan 'precious capital'
  • [02] New budget aims to keep stability, fiscal revitalisation in 2003
  • [03] Verheugen says EU will make a decision on Cyprus at Copenhagen
  • [04] Foreign Exchange Rates - Wednesday
  • [05] Weather Forecast: Scattered cloud on Wednesday
  • [06] Greek stocks end slightly lower on Tuesday

  • [01] PM says national consensus on Annan plan 'precious capital'

    19/11/2002 23:22:43

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, speaking after briefing opposition party leaders on the UN secretary general's Cyprus plan on Tuesday, said national consensus he ascertained over the Annan plan is ''precious capital.''

    Simitis said that ''despite the individual reservations of political party leaders, there is a strong will for a solution to the Cyprus issue which is not affected by partisan expediencies. Greece can and will rise to the occasion.''

    The prime minister briefed on Monday main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis and on Tuesday Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Aleka Papariga and Coalition leader Nikos Constantopoulos.

    Simitis said that, firstly, ''nothing is imposed on us by anyone'' since developments constitute the outcome of the ever-increasing dynamism distinguishing the action of Greece and Cyprus.

    Secondly, he said ''increased international interest in a solution to the Cyprus issue is being manifested today, because the conclusion of the national effort for Cyprus' accession to the EU is being approached with success today.''

    Simitis further said that, thirdly, ''the dates of the Annan plan are linked to enlargement and necessitate intensive consultations'' which, however, do not appear possible due to the delay in the reply by the Turkish Cypriot side.

    ''If, however, a solution is not possible before Copenhagen the accession of Cyprus must go ahead and we shall be particularly determined there,'' he added.

    [02] New budget aims to keep stability, fiscal revitalisation in 2003

    19/11/2002 23:18:36

    The budget for 2003, which the government gave to parliament on Tuesday, sees growth of 3.8 percent and a rise of 5.1 percent each for public sector revenue and spending.

    Presenting the budget, Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told a news conference that spending under the government's public investments programme would rise by 12.9 percent, coupled with a containment of public sector operational expenditure.

    ''The aim of the budget is to maintain conditions of stability in the economy, continue fiscal revitalisation, and finance the social insurance and taxation overhaul,'' the minister said.

    ''It is one more step on the road to real convergence of the Greek economy with other economies of the European Union,'' he added.

    The general government deficit in 2003 is expected to drop to 0.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from 1.1 percent of GDP in 2002 following a recent revision of Greek data by Eurostat, the European Union's statistical agency.

    The public debt next year is forecast to drop to 100.2 percent of GDP from 105.3 percent of GDP in 2002, Christodoulakis said.

    ''Taken into account while drafting the budget were uncertain conditions in the global economic and geopolitical environment,'' the minister added.

    Incorporated into the budget are tax relief already announced by the government as part of an overhaul of the system, with revenue from tax due to increase from a rise in GDP and a continuing crackdown on tax evasion.

    In addition, contained in the budget are financing for small and medium sized enterprises and for farmers under the the EU's Third Community Framework Package of funds and other sources, Christodoulakis said.

    In 2003, average per capita income in Greece would total 71 percent of the EU average, the minister noted.

    [03] Verheugen says EU will make a decision on Cyprus at Copenhagen

    19/11/2002 19:23:59

    STRASBOURG (ANA /O. Tsipira - CNA) Enlargement Commissioner, Guenter Verheugen, made it clear on Tuesday that the European Union (EU) will make a decision for Cyprus' accession to the EU during the Copenhagen European Council in December and that there is no way to postpone it.

    He stressed however that a settlement to the political problem is not a precondition and the EU will make the decision taking into account the relevant factors.

    Verheugen was answering questions by reporters during a press conference he gave with Prime Minister of Denmark, President-in-office of the European Council, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, European Parliament President Pat Cox and European Commission President Romano Prodi, after the morning session of the Enlargement Debate at the EuropeanParliament in the presence of Members of National Parliaments from the Applicant Countries.

    Regarding derogations from the acquis communautaire in the plan submitted by the United Nations last week for a Cyprus settlement, Verheugen said there are some principles which are not negotiable and these were clearly stated in the 2002 Seville European Council conclusions, but the EU is prepared to be as flexible as possible. To a question by CNA that there seems to be a concern that Cyprus' accession will depend on a solution to the political problem, Verheugen said, ''the situation is clear''.

    He explained, ''since Helsinki, the accession of Cyprus based on a political settlement, is what we want. It is the preferred option. If this is not possible, it is not a precondition. And we will make the decision taking into account the relevant factors. Of course, we know the relevant factors, so that is clear.''

    The Enlargement Commissioner further said ''it would be very unwise for the EU to discuss the question whether certain elements of the UN proposal are acquis compatible or not.''

    He pointed out that ''especially, it would be unwise to discuss the points raised in the annex E of the plan,'' (entitled, ''Request of the United Cyprus to the EU''). Verheugen wondered why the EU should do that before the involved parties have made an agreement and are ready to discuss the matters resulting.

    ''I think it must be the other way round,'' Verheugen stressed, adding that ''first of all, the involved parties have to explain what they want to do and when it is clear there will be a solution, then we will discuss these matters.'' At this point, the Enlargement Commissioner repeated ''what President Prodi told Cypriots in Nicosia: There are some principles, which are not negotiable. We have clearly stated them in the Seville Council conclusions and the rest we can accommodate. And we are absolutely prepared to be as flexible as possible''.

    Furthermore, he said the EU is concentrating ''on encouraging both communities to accept Kofi Annan's proposal to respect the timetable. And that would allow us to make the decision in Copenhagen that we want,'' he added.

    ''The question 'what if' cannot be answered today,'' Verheugen stressed, adding, ''the guidance is in the Helsinki conclusions. The politically important point is we will make a decision. There is no way to postpone it. That is clear.''

    Any technical questions, he added, ''must be discussed in Copenhagen. We have discussed this already yesterday (Monday) in the General affairs Council. The options are on the table. Technically, it is possible to conclude the accession negotiations with Cyprus without prejudging the outcome of the ongoing peace process''.

    [04] Foreign Exchange Rates - Wednesday

    19/11/2002 18:28:26

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank

    U.S. dollar 1.020

    Pound sterling 0.642

    Danish kroner 7.486

    Swedish kroner 9.144

    Japanese yen 123.7

    Swiss franc 1.479

    Norwegian kroner 7.385

    Cyprus pound 0.576

    Canadian dollar 1.623

    Australian dollar 1.813

    [05] Weather Forecast: Scattered cloud on Wednesday

    19/11/2002 17:42:54

    Scattered cloud is forecast in all parts of the country. Early morning mist is expected. Winds southeasterly, light to moderate. In the north, temperatures will range from 7C to 18C; on the rest of the mainland from 09C to 23C; and in the islands from 12C to 22C. Temperatures in Athens between 12C and 20C; and in Thessaloniki from 12C to 17C.

    [06] Greek stocks end slightly lower on Tuesday

    19/11/2002 16:54:28

    Greek stocks ended Tuesday's session slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange reflecting lack of fresh incentives and low trading volumes in the market.

    The general index eased 0.08 percent to end at 1,816.20 points, supported by a rebound in Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's share price (up 0.20 percent above a record low of 10 euros per share).

    Turnover was a low 68.1 million euros.

    The Insurance, Cement and Construction sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (2.34 percent, 2.09 percent and 1.06 percent, respectively), while the Telecommunications, Base Metals and Holdings sectors scored the biggest percentage gains (0.77 percent, 0.61 percent and 0.37 percent).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks eased 0.18 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 0.36 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.62 percent lower.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 207 to 98 with another 51 issues unchanged.


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