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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-04-05

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, 05/04/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • PM Simitis to address nation on Kosovo
  • FM sees difference of opinion with U.S. on Kosovo
  • Greek troops only to participate in humanitarian missions
  • Greece reiterates appeal for temporary Easter ceasefire
  • Athens: political settlement only way out of impasse
  • Cypriot FM in Athens on Tuesday to discuss relief efforts
  • Greece strongly protests travel advisories
  • Athens, Ankara to make joint NATO proposal on refugees
  • Athens prepared to take small number of Kosovo refugees
  • Local authorities rush to prepare for refugees
  • Thessaloniki may be transit point for U.S. missiles
  • Left Coalition leader to meet Milosevic in Belgrade
  • Telecoms organisation to float 14 percent of shares
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

PM Simitis to address nation on Kosovo

Prime Minister Costas Simitis will address the nation on Monday evening on the latest developments in the Kosovo crisis. On Tuesday, Simitis will have successive meetings with opposition party leaders, starting with main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis and Communist Party of Greece secretary-general, Aleka Papariga. Following these talks, the premier will have separate meetings with former prime ministers. Also on Tuesday, Simitis will meet with Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos to discuss the country's ongoing armaments programme and on Wednesday with the government's economic team.

FM sees difference of opinion with U.S. on Kosovo

Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Monday after talks with US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott on the Kosovo crisis that there was not an identity of views between the two sides. Papandreou said he had a "frank" discussion with Talbott during which he expressed Greece's views and conveyed the sentiments of the Greek people concerning NATO military strikes against Yugoslavia "and the need for a speedy end to the war there". He stressed that Greece was close to all the Balkan peoples and regarded Serbs, Albanians and Kosovans as friends. Papandreou also referred to Greece's special position as a NATO and European Union member but also a Balkan country very close to the crisis, "which allows us to play a mediating and peacemaking role". Papandreou said he had impressed upon Talbott the need for the EU to exercise a comprehensive development policy in the Balkans based on certain fixed principles, such as respect for existing borders and the fostering of democratic institutions.

Greek troops only to participate in humanitarian missions

Foreign Minister George Papandreou reiterated that Greece would not send troops to take part in NATO's military operations against Yugoslavia but was willing to participate in peaceful operations aimed at protecting refugees and other missions of a humanitarian nature. He stressed also that Greece attached "the utmost importance" to the security and territorial integrity of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), saying that any solution which may eventually be reached for Kosovo should respect existing borders. Asked by reporters whether the US continued to insist on implementation of the Rambouillet agreement, Papandreou replied: "The basic principles of Rambouillet remain in effect as far as the international community is concerned and of course the United States. This means wide-ranging autonomy for Kosovo within the borders of Yugoslavia and the deployment of a multinational force to implement the peace accord." Papandreou clarified that such a force would not be made up of NATO troops alone but would also be from other countries, including Russia, intimating that the US have now agreed to this.

Greece reiterates appeal for temporary Easter ceasefire

Foreign Minister George Papandreou said he had reiterated to Talbott the proposal for a temporary ceasefire during the Orthodox Easter this weekend, without any response from the US official. Asked whether, after his talks with Talbott, he saw any end in the near future to NATO's military operations, Papandreou replied "NATO is awaiting some move from (Yugoslav President Slobodan) Milosevic on the basis of the basic principles which have been set".

Athens: political settlement only way out of impasse

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that Greece insisted that the problem in Kosovo could not be resolved through military means, but only through political dialogue. "(We need) a peaceful solution which will aim at wide-ranging autonomy for Kosovo in the framework of the borders of Yugoslavia," Reppas said. He said support for the position that no border changes be made was increasing among the Allies.

Cypriot FM in Athens on Tuesday to discuss relief efforts

Cypriot Foreign Minister Yiannakis Kassoulides will be in Athens on Tuesday to discuss Nicosia's contribution to the aid effort. Greece is also looking at how to provide humanitarian aid to Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, Reppas said. However, he said Greece would not under any circumstances agree to refugees being sheltered in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, as proposed by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. Greek and US delegations headed by Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Julia Taft, respectively, also held talks on Monday. According to diplomatic sources, Kranidiotis raised the issue of recent threats by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to settle 5,000 Kosovan refugees in Turkish-occupied Famagusta and Taft gave the assurance that the US would do everything possible to prevent this.

Greece strongly protests travel advisories

The Athens government is protesting to France, Italy and the US over the inclusion of Greece in travel advisories issued by those countries for the region and urged that the warning be revoked in reference to Greece. Foreign ministry sources told ANA that Foreign Minister George Papandreou last night instructed Greece's envoys accreditted to those countries to lodge the relevent protests to exclude Greece from the travel advisories issued due to the Yugoslav crisis. "Greece is a force of stability in the region and its role should be strengthened and not undermined," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

Athens, Ankara to make joint NATO proposal on refugees

Greece and Turkey will make a joint proposal to NATO that Alliance members share the financial burden of sheltering refugees from Kosovo, diplomatic sources said late on Sunday. The sources said the gist of a telephone conversation between Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and his Greek counterpart George Papandreou was that each Alliance member take in a proportional number of refugees. The financial burden, according to the sources, should be shared, again in proportion, by all NATO members. The two ministers were in touch to coordinate efforts to relieve the refugee crisis and provide humanitarian aid.

Athens prepared to take small number of Kosovo refugees

Foreign Minister George Papandreou said Greece would be willing to receive a number of refugees in order to contribute to helping resolve the enormous problem which has been created, but only if there was some understanding and "proportional distribution among the partners". Papandreou said it should also be taken into account that Greece had already taken in some 500, 000 Albanian refugees, following previous crises in the neighbouring country, and was in addition hosting a large number of refugees from other countries. He added that the issue would be discussed and most likely settled at the extraordinary meetings of EU interior ministers on April 6 and foreign ministers on April 8. The government on Sunday gave three Turkish transport planes permission to cross Greek air space to deliver aid to Skopje and Tirana on Sunday afternoon.

Local authorities rush to prepare for refugees

Greece's plans to provide refuge to about 1,500 displaced Kosovo Albanians in the Ftiotida region of central Greece has caught local authorities unawares, according to an ANA report from Lamia. The Fthiotida prefect said after an urgent meeting called to coordinate action on Monday that there were "serious problems" that would complicate the efforts to provide shelter to such a large number of refugees. He cited these problems as being a lack sanitary and health care facilities. He said there were concerns the local Lamia Hospital would not be able to meet the specific health needs of the refugees. He also expressed the view that the tourist region of Kamena Vourla was not the best placed to shelter the refugees.

Thessaloniki may be transit point for U.S. missiles

It is highly likely that ground-launched tactical missiles and rockets which the United States has said it will send to the Balkans to back operations against Serbian forces will be transported to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) via Thessaloniki, an ANA despatch from the northern port city said on Monday. A military source told the ANA that the city's port would most likely be used rather than the airport, since the cost of sending the modern weapons systems by air would be much higher. The Pentagon said on Sunday it would send the missiles, rockets and 24 Apache helicopters to help NATO destroy Serb armoured forces. The new missiles, to be deployed in FYROM, will be accompanied by a force of some 2, 000 troops, which will join the approximately 13,000 NATO soldiers already in FYROM. The new strike force will comprise anti-artillery Multiple- Launch Rocket Systems (MIRS) and long-range, surface-to-surface Army Tactical Missile Systems (TACMS).

Left Coalition leader to meet Milosevic in Belgrade

Coalition of the Left and Progress (SYN) leader Nikos Constantopoulos left today for Sofia, the first stop on a tour of Balkan countries. Inthe Bulgarian capital, he will hold talks with Socialist Party (BSP) leader Georgi Parvanov and European Left Party president Alexander Tomov. Constantopoulos will go to Belgrade tonight, for talks Tuesday morning with the Serbian and Yugoslav leadership. A meeting has been planned with Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, but the time has not been released. Before departing for Sofia, Constantopoulos said his visit to Belgrade was intended to express in action SYN's concern and support for the Yugoslav people and its opposition to the war. He expressed concern that the refugee problem could be used as a springboard for the involvement of NATO ground troops in the region. "This is a nightmarish scenario in which Greece must explicitly state it will not take part, and which it must oppose in the strongest way," Constantopoulos said.

Telecoms organisation to float 14 percent of shares

State-owned Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) will float 14 percent of its shares by July in the third and final phase of denationalisation of 49 percent of its stock, it was decided today. The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by national economy and finance minister Yannos Papantoniou and attended by transport and communications minister Tassos Mantelis and finance deputy minister Nikos Christodoulakis. The flotation will take place simultaneously on the Athens and New York Stock Exchanges.

WEATHER

Clouds with local showers and rainstorms are forecast today for eastern and southern Greece, overcast in the rest of the country. Athens will be cloudy with sunny spells and a small possibility of rain later in the day with temperatures from 9-18C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 8-16 C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          300.576
Pound sterling       481.874
Japanese yen (100)   249.151
French franc          49.346
German mark          165.500
Italian lira (100)    16.717
Irish Punt           411.001
Belgian franc          8.024
Luxembourg franc       8.024
Finnish mark          54.441
Dutch guilder        146.883
Danish kr.            43.642
Austrian sch.         23.523
Spanish peseta         1.945
Swedish kr.           36.436
Norwegian kr.         38.819
Swiss franc          202.983
Port. Escudo           1.615
Aus. dollar          190.464
Can. dollar          199.432
Cyprus pound         560.361
Euro                 323.690
(M.P.)
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