Happy birthday, Mr Prime Minister

A morning briefing at the presidential residence gave President Karolos Papoulias the opportunity to be first to wish Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis a happy birthday publicly. The premier turned 50, a golden age for leaders, as they can combine experience and persistence with still robust health. The prime minister had a quiet day of meetings at Maximos Mansion, where he received congratulatory calls from Russian President Vladimir Putin and a card and letter from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha also sent a handwritten letter and there were cards from Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark and Prime Minister Vasili Tarlev of Moldova. Among the presents that arrived with them were history books and music CDs for the premier, who likes to listen to music while reading, as well as pens, drinks, flowers, paintings, ties and cufflinks. Like former president Costis Stephanopoulos, the premier has decreed that all valuable gifts, such as paintings and cameras, be recorded so that they become the property of the state after his term of office. The warmest birthday wishes he received were from his family, of course: his wife Natasa, their children Aliki and Alexandros and his mother Aliki Karamanli. And Helbi wishes him many happy and creative returns for the good of the country.