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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-03-26

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, 26/03/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis: Hard work reaps rewards at Berlin summit
  • Greece: Stop bombing; get back to talks
  • Athens hesitant about further support for NATO offensive
  • Skopje refugees concerns expressed to Athens
  • Reception centres readied in northern Greece
  • Opposition closes ranks behind gov't on Kosovo - sources
  • NATO strikes disrupt Olympic Airways flights
  • Flap in Florina as sirens sound
  • Greek equities bounce back from losses
  • Daylight Savings time on Sunday
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis: Hard work reaps rewards at Berlin summit

Greece said on Friday it had driven a hard bargain and was "fully satisfied" with the deal on EU funding reached at the Berlin Agenda 2000 summit. "I don't know if burning the midnight oil works generally, but this time it did," Prime Minister Costas Simitis told reporters on the conclusion of the extraordinary summit. Simitis said Greece would receive nine trillion drachmas from structural funds over the 2000-2006 period, a 13 percent increase over allocations for the 1993-1996 period. "The final result is positive because inflows to Greece from the Common Agricultural Policy are expected to be higher - albeit marginally - in the next seven years, while inflows from structural funds will be signficantly higher," he said.

Greece: Stop bombing; get back to talks

Greece has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a resumption of diplomatic efforts for a political solution. "It is time for all of us to return to dialogue, to try for a political setttlement and for the bombing to stop," government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said. Athens has undertaken initiatives in the past to bring peace and stability to the region and it has made its position clear to all, he said. Greece said on Friday that it was ready to undertake "every necessary initiative" for a peaceful solution to the Kosovo conflict as NATO bombings continued.

Athens hesitant about further support for NATO offensive

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis on Friday relayed to the U.S. ambassador in Athens Greece's desire that there be an immediate cessation to NATO air strikes over Yugoslavia to allow a resumption of talks to seek a political settlement. Kranidiotis told Ambassador Nicholas Burns that the Greek government had strong reservations about whether it should approve the third phase of the NATO offensive on Yugoslavia, which provides for mass bombing of military targets throughout Yugoslav territory. Diplomatic sources said Greece was even considering using its veto if the offensive continued up to the third phase. Greece's permanent representative to NATO has been instructed to keep a close watch on developments and to express Greek reservations.

Skopje refugees concerns expressed to Athens

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's problems in catering for a large number of refugees were the focus of talks later between Kranidiotis and Skopje's representative in Athens, Ljupco Arsovski. Arsovski said his government was concerned about the number of refugees coming in from Kosovo and unable to deal with more than 20,000. There are an estimated 15,000 refugees already on FYROM territory. Kranidiotis informed Arsovski of the government's decision to allocate aid worth 200 million drachmas and was bringing the issue to the European Union.

Reception centres readied in northern Greece

A series of reception centres have been set up in three prefectures in central Macedonia to house an eventual influx of refugees through the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania. The centres, in the northern Greek prefectures of Pella, Kilkis and Serres are already in the process of getting organised and equiped. The officials said that an estimated 1,200 refugees will be housed in an orphanage in Serres while another 900 will be hosted at a closed gymnasium in Pella. "The refugees will be sheltered for a few days, or even weeks, before being transfered to Larissa, Fthiotida and near Mt Olympus in central Greece", the officials said.

Opposition closes ranks behind gov't on Kosovo - sources

The main opposition party, New Democracy, was apparently preparing to back the government's call for an end to the NATO bombing, according to sources. ND leader Costas Karamanlis and party officials believe that the NATO strikes should have been cleared by the UN Security Council, the sources said. New Democracy believes that negotiations to find a peaceful resolution to the dispute in the framework of the Rambouillet agreement should resume once the bombing stops and that peacekeeping forces from the UN or Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe should be deployed in Kosovo. The opposition party is adamantly opposed to a change in existing borders in the region and believes that the Greek government must seek EU support for any possible wave of refugees.

NATO strikes disrupt Olympic Airways flights

NATO air strikes over Yugoslavia have forced the suspension of three Olympic Airways routes to central and eastern Europe, according to a statement from the national carrier. OA said routes to Yugoslavia, Albania and western Bulgaria as well as those flights passing through Adriatic air space had been disrupted. Since alternative routes through central Italy and eastern Bulgaria were being used, delays could be expected in scheduled take-offs and landings, OA said.

Flap in Florina as sirens sound

Residents of the border town of Florina, northern Greece, were startled on Friday morning when sirens sounded throughout the city but their concerns were quickly allayed by the news that the sirens were going through an annual maintenance check. The municipal authority had neglected to inform residents that Greek telecoms organisation OTE would be conducting the regular check on Friday. The sirens sounded repeatedly for a couple of minutes through the town, the nearest to Greece's border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Greek equities bounce back from losses

Equity prices rebounded spectacularly on Thursday recovering a big part of their Tuesday's and Wednesday's sharp losses due to developments in Kosovo. The general index ended a highly volatile session 2.22 percent up to 3, 548.46 points reflecting gains in banks, construction, investment and insurance stocks. Financial analysts said that developments in the Balkans would have only limited impact on the country's economy and predicted a gradual decoupling of the market from regional developments on the condition that the current crisis did not escalate. Traders noted that an EU summit agreement earmarking nine trillion drachmas from structural funds to Greece in the period 2000-2006 would greatly benefit the country's economic growth. The market also seemed to have discounted a positive outcome in a second tender for the sale of a majority stake in Ionian Bank.

Daylight Savings time on Sunday

Daylight saving time begins this Sunday when clocks should be moved forward one hour from 3.00 a.m. to 4.00 a.m. in line with other European Union countries. The daylight saving time ends on October 31, the ministry of transport and communications has announced.

WEATHER

The forecast for today is cloudy in western regions with light rain gradually becoming stronger. Partly cloudy in the rest of the country, increasing after midday with possibility of scattered showers. Winds east- northeasterly, moderate, later becoming southerly with gale force in the Ionian Sea. Athens will be sunny with few clouds and temperatures of 7-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures of 3-15C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          294.624
Pound sterling       482.152
Japanese yen (100)   250.916
French franc          49.110
German mark          164.709
Italian lira (100)    16.637
Irish Punt           409.036
Belgian franc          7.986
Luxembourg franc       7.986
Finnish mark          54.180
Dutch guilder        146.182
Danish kr.            43.368
Austrian sch.         23.411
Spanish peseta         1.936
Swedish kr.           35.893
Norwegian kr.         37.212
Swiss franc          202.259
Port. Escudo           1.607
Aus. dollar          187.810
Can. dollar          194.829
Cyprus pound         556.909
Euro                 322.142
(M.P.)
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