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Guest imported_Tesseract

As of today...[euro thread]

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Guest imported_Tesseract

Ancient Athens the stunning backdrop for EU enlargement ceremony



The leaders of the 25 countries that consist the EU as of today


In the shadow of the Acropolis, the cradle of Western democracy, the European Union welcomed 10 new member states on Wednesday. The leaders of the 15 EU members and the would-be states gathered at the ancient Stoa of Attalos in Athens to sign the Treaty of Accession. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta now have observer status within the Union. It is the biggest-ever enlargement of the EU since its effective founding in 1957. From next May those 10 countries will become full members of the Union.


It was a ceremony rich in symbolism. The presidents and prime ministers who spoke hailed the occasion as an historic day that finally consigned Europe's post-war divisions to history. Many heads of government also looked forward to Romania and Bulgaria joining the bloc in 2007. Representatives from would-be candidates such as Croatia and Serbia were also invited to the ceremony. Turkey, though, stayed away from the event, possibly to mark its displeasure that Cyprus will join the EU regardless of a political settlement on the divided island.


This is the fifth wave of European Union enlargement. France, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, West Germany and Belgium were founder members. The United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark joined in 1973; Greece eight years later; and Spain and Portugal in 1986. The last expansion took place eight years ago when Austria, Finland and Sweden became members









Cordial talks at informal EU summit




Before the signing ceremony, an informal summit of the 25 political leaders was held to discuss, amongst other things, the work of former French president Valery Giscard D'Estaing's convention on a new constitution for Europe. Significant progress was reported, with virtual unanimity on the need for a foreign minister for the EU and on the strengthening of the role of the commission as the lynchpin of the European construction. But significant differences remain - the big five nations of the current EU want to end the system of a rotating presidency of the Union, arguing that a fixed structure will improve coherence and transparency. But the large majority of the smaller nations remain committed to rotation.


Giscard D'Estaing indicated he wanted more time, but received instructions to stick to the June deadline for a draft constitution to be prepared. The atmosphere was reportedly cordial, despite the deep divisions that emerged over Iraq. The EU leaders agreed on a provisional statement recognising the important and essential role that the United Nations should play in reconstruction. France appears to have softened on earlier demands that the UN should be the sole arbiter in post war Iraq, saying it would adopt a flexible approach to the question.





An anti-war demonstration in Athens turned violent



After 7000 protesters joined a march through the centre of the Greek capital as the EU summit began nearby. A push to get nearer the conference centre started the trouble. Rocks, bottles of paint and petrol bombs were thrown. Police responded with tear gas. The demonstrators targetted the British and United States embassies. Greek public opinion has been strongly against the US and UK invasion of Iraq. Security remains tight for the two day meeting of European leaders - the Acropolis is completely sealed off.

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^ scary thoughts. maybe one day when im bored ill read some stuff in the bible and try to make connections, then write a thesis paper or something

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