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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-12-17

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 17/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek foreign ministry on Iraqi strike
  • Greek armed forces watching developments
  • MPs urge Parliament to condemn Iraqi strike
  • 78 MPs sign petition to UN chief
  • Government spokesman on Iraqi strike
  • Parties comment on latest developments
  • Athens blasts Turkey's missiles comments
  • Israeli defence minister cancels visit
  • Two students arrested for vandalism
  • Belt up campaign making headway
  • Government plans ban on violent toys
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek foreign ministry on Iraqi strike

The first official Greek government reaction to the U.S. and British act was a cautiously worded statement from the foreign ministry underlining that non-implementation of UN resolutions and obstacles to their implementation by Iraq "were worthy of condemnation". At the same time, the statement continued, "the people of Iraq are not responsible for the actions of their governments". "The Greek government ...expresses its hope that the operations will be of short duration and soon end. "...The trials the Iraqi people have suffered for some time must be ended through cooperation between the Iraqi government and the international community".

Greek armed forces watching developments

The Hellenic Armed Forces are closely monitoring the situation in Iraq following air strikes launched overnight by the US and Britain against military and security targets in Iraq. Sources close to the National Defence General Staff (GEETHA) told the ANA that the Greek armed forces "having been closely monitoring, from the very first moment, the situation in Iraq following the British and American strike on Iraqi targets". The sources said the GEETHA's Operations Centre had been put on alert since Wednesday afternoon following the evacuation of UN inspectors from Iraq. The same sources said that Greece had no involvement in the events, adding that the 11 Greek UN observers, currently at the Iraqi border with Kuwait and in northern Iraq, "are facing no problems".

MPs urge Parliament to condemn Iraqi strike

Three members of the Greek Parliament on Thursday called on the House to condemn the U.S. and British strike on Iraq. The letter, to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, was signed by ruling party MPs Paraskevas Paraskevopoulos and George Katsimbardas and Left Coalition MP Spyros Danellis. "The bombings by U.S. and British forces of Iraq is a blatant infringement of international law, international legality and human rights, " the MPs' letter said. "Once again the victims of these attacks will be the embattled Iraqi people, civilians and children."

78 MPs sign petition to UN chief

Seventy-eight MPs have signed a petition to be sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, condemning the U.S. and British raids. The petition calls on the UN chief to work towards a resolution of the problem through political means "the only path for the resolution of international crises". "Blind violence, regardless of pretext, can not at the end of the 20th century be celebrated and be considered a form of international policy," the petition says. Among the signees were 56 ruling party MPs, seven from Left Coalition, six each from the Communist Party of Greece and Democratic Social Movement and two from conservative opposition New Democracy.

Government spokesman on Iraqi strike

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas later expressed the government's concern over the latest Iraqi developments and said that the international community had to deal effectively with the problem. "There is a real problem with the production and possession of chemical weapons in Iraq that must be dealt with," Reppas said. Reppas said this was the reason for the U.S. and British strike although he intimated that domestic U.S. politics and the low price of oil may have had an effect on the decision to take action.

Parties comment on latest developments

The attack on Iraq was condemned by two leftist opposition parties, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) and the Left Coalition (SYN), while main opposition conservative New Democracy called for the strikes not to be repeated and for all peaceful means to be exhausted in finding a resolution to the dispute. New Democracy said Saddam Hussein's refusal to cooperate with the UN should be condemned but stressed that it was the first time in the U.S. that there had been no consensus from the Congress on the attacks. DHKKI, in an announcement, called the strikes "shameful" for humanity and international organisations and called on the government to take initiatives at the EU to condemn Britain's role in the strikes. SYN called the night raids "opportunistic" and said the latest developments served to undermine the peace process in the Middle East. It too called for the government to condemn the attacks and to support initiatives aimed at finding a peaceful resolution.

Athens blasts Turkey's missiles comments

Greece and Cyprus' defence policies are not defined on the basis of the desires of the Turkish state, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Thursday, calling "unacceptable" statements by Turkish officials that the Russian S-300 missile system could not be deployed on Cyprus or Crete. These statements, Reppas said, constituted a "travesty" of the principles and rules of international law and at the same time illustrate the impasses of Turkish foreign policy. Responding to a pointed question on whether Greece would request the United State's intervention with Turkey, another country which does not abide by UN resolutions, in this case on Cyprus, Reppas said: "Greece requires the implementation of the decisions of the United Nations, nothing more or less."

Israeli defence minister cancels visit

Israeli Defence Minister Yitzhak Mordechai has called off a visit to Greece scheduled to begin on Friday, the Israeli embassy said. A press release from the embassy said that the official visit was postponed early on Thursday as a result of the situation in the Middle East.

Two students arrested for vandalism

Two high-school students were arraigned before a magistrate on Thursday to answer charges of arson and vandalism at a Thessaloniki school earlier this week. The two students, who have not been identified, were involved in the occupation of the junior high school in the Toumbas district of Thessaloniki. They were arrested after an investigation by fire department officials into the rampage on Tuesday night, which resulted in a fire in the school's records office and damage to classrooms and equipment. Initially, students occupying the school had blamed the rampage on about 40 youths who were not students. About 50 junior and senior high schools are currently under occupation in the northern Greek city. Nationwide the number is estimated to total over a thousand.

Belt up campaign making headway

An information campaign on using seatbelts has led to a 50 percent increase in their use, campaign organisers told a news conference on Thursday. Announcing the results of a nationwide survey by the Centre for Research and Prevention of Child Accidents (KEPPA), experts said the nine-month campaign had to continue as the rate of usage was still low compared to other European countries. Greece has one of the worst road death records in Europe. Some 1,500 Greeks are estimated to have died over the past five years as a result of not using seatbelts. The latest available figures show Greece has 20.5 road deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. By comparison, figures for Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom range between 6.8 and 8.6 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

Government plans ban on violent toys

Deputy Development Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis told Parliament on Thursday that the ministry was preparing legislation to ban violent games and toys from being sold on the Greek market. Chrysohoidis said that judicial officials had already begun working on having one electronic toy withdrawn from the market, following complaints from two MPs. The toy, Carmageddon II, awards players points for killing pedestrians. PASOK MP Eleni Anoussaki first brought the issue to the parliament when she raised questions over Carmageddon I.

WEATHER

Northern Greece is expected to be cloudy with rainfall or sleet and snowfall on highground on Thursday. The rest of the country cloudy with scattered rainfall and snowfall on highground. Winds northerly, strong to very strong. Athens is forecast partly cloudy with scattered rainfall in the afternoon and temperatures ranging from 5C to 12C. Thessaloniki is expected to be partly cloudy with temperatures ranging from 2C to 8C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 275.984 British pound 464.018 Japanese yen (100) 238.348 French franc 49.640 German mark 166.458 Italian lira (100) 16.821 Irish Punt 413.366 Belgian franc 8.070 Finnish mark 54.758 Dutch guilder 147.704 Danish kr. 43.761 Austrian sch. 23.673 Spanish peseta 1.957 Swedish kr. 34.472 Norwegian kr. 35.940 Swiss franc 206.078 Port. Escudo 1.624 Aus. dollar 171.720 Can. dollar 179.096

(M.P.)


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