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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-11

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

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


NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 11/03/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece to request release of imprisoned Albanian leader Nano
  • Gov't confers on developments in Albania
  • Albanian shot in border incident
  • Athens to continue pressure on Berisha: Kranidiotis
  • Greece pledges support to Albanian political deal
  • Athens request extradition of kidnapper
  • New Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria enthroned
  • Austrian Defence Minister due in Athens today
  • Honorary doctorate for German President

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Greece to request release of imprisoned Albanian leader Nano

    The Greek government is to make a representation this afternoon to the government in Tirana for the release from prison of Albanian Socialist leader Fatos Nano, announced Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos today.

    Speaking to the press after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the Foreign Ministry political leadership, Pangalos expressed Greece's concern for the situation in Albania, reiterating support for the avoidance of the use of force and for a political solution to the crisis using peaceful means.

    He stressed the Greek government was in contact with all sides in the conflict, and was prepared to deal with any increase in illegal immigration from Albania, any threat to the ethnic Greek minority, or any request for humanitarian aid.

    He noted that Greece was not in favour of intervention by an international force if it could be avoided.

    "At this point it is not unavoidable," he concluded.

    Meanwhile, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also expressed the government's grave concern at developments in Albania, noting that insurgents had been observed south of Tirana.

    He added that the most important problem at the moment was the appointment of prime minister, foreign and public order ministers, expressing the hope that this issue would be resolved today.

    Asked whether the opposition could represent the insurgents, Reppas said this was a domestic issue for Albania, but expressed the view that since the insurgents held a large sector of the country, they should have a say in developments.

    He rejected criticism of the government's alleged support for Berisha, since it was natural for the government to be in contact with the President of Albania. Moreover, Greece has always maintained that a political solution should include all political forces.

    With regard to the possibility of Greece mediating between Tirana and the insurgents, the spokesman said the government would discuss the issue if it arose, and only if there were prospects of success.

    Gov't confers on developments in Albania

    A meeting of the Defence Ministry and Foreign Minstry working groups at the Pentagon today concluded that the uncertainty in neighbouring Albania was being exacerbated by the inability of the regime of President Sali Berisha to control developments in south, according to informed sources. The meeting was chaired by Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    The same sources said the possibility of an outbreak of full-scale civil war was also discussed, as the insurgency appeared to be spreading to the north of the country and Berisha was arming citizens and pro-government soldiers in order to give himself more leverage in negotiations with the opposition.

    The Greek government meanwhile is to continue its diplomatic activity in an attempt to defuse the crisis in Albania. Government sources say a multinational force could be deployed in future in order to guarantee the negotiations, although there has been no indication as yet from NATO Secretary General Javier Solana that such a move is being considered.

    It was also denied that Italy had asked for Greece to be excluded from any international force because of its position as a neighbouring country.

    Albanian shot in border incident

    An Albanian was shot and seriously injured early this afternoon by masked gunmen occupying the Albanian customs post at Kakavia, on the border with Greece.

    The gunmen have been demanding money from everyone wanting to cross over the border. When Musati Figiri, 31, refused to pay he was shot in cold blood. He was taken to Ioannina University Hospital in a serious condition.

    There are no longer any Albanian soldiers posted along the length of Greece's border with Albania, while the Kakavia border post on the Albanian side has been abandoned by customs police and armed insurgents have driven away soldiers posted there, according to an ANA dispatch from Ioannina.

    Albanians arriving at Kakavia to send their children to safety in Greece say they will not lay down their arms unless President Sali Berisha resigns.

    It was reported that armed men broke into the cathedral in Gjirokaster last night, taking money but leaving other valuables.

    Over the last 24 hours, 25 Albanian illegal immigrants have been arrested in Epirus.

    Athens to continue pressure on Berisha: Kranidiotis

    Greece is using and would continue to use all the means at its disposal to convince Albanian President Sali Berisha to conform to the opposition's demand for a government free of his personal influence, said Foreign Undersecretary Yannos Kranidiotis, who also linked the question of Greek aid to Albania with its treatment of the ethnic Greek minority.

    In an interview in today's "Exousia" following his talks in Tirana on Saturday, Kranidiotis noted that Greece's actions had brought about results.

    "Our goal was for there to be ...an ageement betweeen government and opposition, for elections to be held soon and to secure the rights of the ethnic Greek minority... It is clear that aid is linked to...the implementation of the agreement."

    In the event of a threat to Albania's Greek minority, he stressed that any moves to protect them would be via European bodies.

    "At the same time, we will hold Albania responsible for protecting the minority. We have ways to exert pressure. Albania has depended and continues to depend on Greece, both economically and politically," he said.

    Kranidiotis said that during a press conference in Albania he had also raised the issue of the release from prison of Socialist leader Fatos Nano.

    "I hope that Greece's appeal for the safety of the political leader will be considered," he said.

    Greece pledges support to Albanian political deal

    Greece expressed its satisfaction on Sunday over an agreement reached between Albanian President Sali Berisha and the country's opposition parties to end the crisis in the neigbouring country and pledged support to efforts to achieve the nine-point deal.

    The deal, signed Sunday after two days of talks and mediation by senior European envoys, calls for the formation of an interim all-party government to supervise general elections to be held in June.

    However, the revolt in the south of the country appeared to be spreading yesterday, with rebels ignoring the political deal thrashed out by President Berisha, continuing their calls for the president's resignation, and the army falling back in disarray .

    Reports said that the latest areas to fall were the ancient town of Berat, abandoned without a fight by the army, and the nearby town of Kucove, where residents pillaged an air force base, one of two important military airfields in Albania. Reports from Tirana indicated the towns of Polican and Corovode, south of the capital, were also in rebel hands.

    An ANA dispatch from the Albanian capital reported Mr. Berisha calling an urgent meeting of political party leaders in a last-ditch attempt to stem the rebellion from spreading further.

    According to the same dispatch, Mr. Berisha was to propose to the main opposition Socialist Party that it choose a prime minister in the interim government.

    Greece requests extradition of kidnapper

    Greece today formally asked for the extradition of Constantinos Korkolis, a Greek, who last year masterminded the London kidnapping of 44-year-old shipping agent George Frangistas, court sources said.

    Frangistas was seized on March 24 as he walked along the exit from a National Park in Lanark Road, in the Maida Vale area of northwest London.

    His abductors bundled him into the boot of a car at gunpoint and took him to an address in Hogan Mews, where they held him blindfolded in a cupboard for 10 days while they made ransom demands to his family.

    Frangistas was freed by Scotland Yard after a massive cover surveillance operation involving more than 50 officers. Korkolis was one of the four men arrested in London, two of them Greeks and two French.

    The Greek justice ministry's extradition request has been submitted to the British authorities through the Greek foreign ministry. It is accompanied by a crime-sheet listing a series of convictions, totalling nine years, and a number of other pending offences ranging from fraud, blackmail, forging a public document and cheques.

    His last conviction before fleeing to Britain was in 1989 when he forged his father's signature on a cheque for which he was sentenced to 20 months in jail.

    New Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria enthroned

    The enthronement of the new Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Petros VII was held on Sunday with all due splendour at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria.

    The ceremony was attended by President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis, Public Order Minister George Romeos, many deputies, leaders or representatives of Greek and Cypriot parties, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and crowds of people. Also present were representatives of all Orthodox Churches, a representation for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and senior Egyptian officials.

    Austrian defence minister due in Athens today

    Austrian Defence Minister Woerner Faslabed, who will arrive in Athens today on a three-day official visit to Greece, said in an interview with the Athens News Agency (ANA) in Vienna yesterday that Austria will continue to offer its services to Cyprus for the benefit of peace and international security.

    Austria, he noted, is the country with the longest service in the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus, with its involvement dating back to the beginning of the '60s.

    Mr. Faslabed said developments in the Balkans,and Albania in particular, Europe's future security architecture, the Cyprus issue and bilateral cooperation will be the main topics of discussion with his Greek counterpart Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

    Mr. Faslabed said the exchange of information and views between Austria and Greece is extremely important, as they are countries bordering events in the Balkans which, in his view, will remain a flashpoint in the future as well, as illustrated by developments in Albania.

    Honorary doctorate for German President

    German President Roman Herzog will pay an unofficial visit to Greece today to receive an honorary doctorate from the Athens University's Law Faculty.

    President Herzog will meet President Kostis Stephanopoulos tomorrow morning before returning to Germany.

    President Herzog, who was a member of the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe from 1983 and its president from 1987 to 1994 (when he was elected President of the Republic by the German Parliament), will be honoured by the Athens University's Law Faculty for his academic work.

    President Herzog and President Stephanopoulos have met twice in the past. The first time was in July 1995 when President Stephanopoulos paid an acquaintance visit to Berlin and the second was in June 1996 when President Stephanopoulos paid an official v isit to Germany in the light of the Greek- Turkish crisis, accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    WEATHER

    Gale force winds in the Aegean, Ionian and Cretan seas, a further drop in temperatures, local cloudiness, rainfalls and snowfalls in the mountainous regions are forecast for today. Athens will be cloudy with rain and sleet expected in the evening and possible snowfall on Mt. Parnes with temperatures between 5-9C. Same for Thessaloniki with temperatures between 2-8C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 267.195 Pound sterling 428.980 Cyprus pd 522.784 French franc 46.225 Swiss franc 180.648 German mark 155.858 Italian lira (100) 15.726 Yen (100) 220.274 Canadian dlr. 195.642 Australian dlr. 210.368 Irish Punt 415.053 Belgian franc 7.557 Finnish mark 52.298 Dutch guilder 138.404 Danish kr. 40.900 Swedish kr. 34.906 Norwegian kr. 38.638 Austrian sch. 22.152 Spanish peseta 1.840 Portuguese escudo 1.553

    (M.P.)


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