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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-04-13

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, 13/04/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • G. Papandreou: NATO decision not to send ground troops still holds
  • Albright praises Greece's role in the region
  • Country's leadership call for end to bombings
  • Constantopoulos to visit FYROM on Thursday
  • DHKKI begins collecting aid for Yugoslavia
  • Tsohatzopoulos visits Kosovo refugees in Albania
  • More humanitarian aid to Albania
  • At least 41 killed in traffic accidents over Easter period
  • Prinos oilfield redundant workers reject gov't offer
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

G. Papandreou: NATO decision not to send ground troops still holds

Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday expressed satisfaction over the response proposals for a political settlement to the Kosovo crisis met with at the meeting of NATO member-states' foreign ministers.

He said the decision not to use the alliance's ground forces still holds and consent was also reached both on the promotion of diplomatic solutions, with the contribution of Russia, and the safeguarding of Yugoslavia's present borders.

A joint communique by the foreign ministers of NATO's 19 member-states stressed that NATO bombings will be continued until (Yugoslav President Slobodan) Milosevic responds to the international community's demands, which are:

an end in a reliable way to all military activity and all acts of violence and repression

the withdrawal of all forces (military, paramilitary and police) from Kosovo

acceptance of an international military presence in Kosovo

acceptance of the return of all refugees and the granting of permission for humanitarian aid to reach its destination

- and the rendering of reliable proof of his intention to cooperate on the basis of the Rambouillet agreements for the shaping of a draft political agreement in harmony with international law and the UN Charter.

The communique placed responsibility for the crisis entirely on Mr. Milosevic, whose forces "created a human disaster for Kosovar civilians on a wide scale, rendering NATO's intervention necessary and justified", while also mentioning that he should be accountable to justice for these crimes.

The German proposal for the deployment of an international force in the region by the OSCE and not NATO was also discussed at the meeting, while the idea of resuming initiatives in the framework of the UN and the Security Council, supported by France in particular, also met with a response.

Saying that these thoughts, which still remain issues open to discussion, also reflect Greek views, Mr. Papandreou proposed the shaping of a European Union and NATO policy for the region which will not be limited to the handling of crises but which will constitute a prospect for development and restructuring, both for Yugoslavia and Kosovo and the Balkans in general, in which Greece could play a leading role.

Mr. Papandreou made special reference to the Balkan initiative in which Greece, Romania and Bulgaria are participating, and expressed the hope that Turkey would participate as well, with the target of a greater rapprochement in the region to Euroatlantic structures.

"We hope the day of peace and substantive European prospect for the Balkans will come soon," Mr. Papandreou said, underlining Greece's role in promoting the new aspects of an overall and longterm peaceful development of the region.

Albright praises Greece's role in the region

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright praised Greece's role in the region and the rendering of humanitarian aid at a press conference she gave at the end of the meeting.

"The Greeks have helped us and they will help more," she said.

Referring to the climate of consensus prevailing at the meeting, she focused in particular on her meeting with Mr. Papandreou on the sidelines of the meeting and to Greece's role in the region.

Mr. Papandreou said Greece's role is not limited to its contribution to overcoming the crisis but extends to the next day as well, as a force of peace in the region.

Country's leadership call for end to bombings

As is customary every year, the country's political and military leadership celebrated Easter Day with the nation's enlisted young people and exchanged best wishes.

The events centred at Dekelia Air Base, the Tank Training Centre at Avlona and the Salamina Naval Base. They were visited by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, Coalition of the Left leader Nikos Constantopoulos and Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis visited a village on the Greek-Albanian border on Sunday, while main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis spent Easter in the Peloponnese.

President Stephanopoulos on Sunday said it was inadmissible for bombings to occur in Europe.

"I wish the best for the country and for peace in the region. Because it is inadmissible for bombings to occur in Europe," Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

Prime Minister Simitis visited the village of Molyvdoskepasto, Ioannina on the Greek-Albanian border on Sunday, stressing the need for a peaceful political solution to be found to the crisis in Yugoslavia.

"We stressed in the crisis the need for a solution to the problem of Kosovo to be found through the dialogue of political talks. The war and force do not lead to a permanent solution to the problem of Kosovo," he said.

The village's president gave Mr. Simitis a white dove and an olive tree branch as peace tokens. During his visit to a border outpost on the borders with Albania, the local commander briefed Mr. Simitis on the repercussions of war on the influx of illegal immigrants into the country, which he estimated as having been considerably reduced.

Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis visited Leonidion, Arcadia to celebrate Easter.

On Sunday, Mr. Karamanlis visited the two military camps in Tripolis saying the "paranoia of war and bombings must stop".

"Bombings must stop which are also creating great disasters for hundreds of thousands of people, while there is also the danger of them creating destabilisation in the wider region," he said.

"It is necessary for logic and diplomacy to prevail. It is necessary for a political solution to be found. Military operations must stop,"he added.

Constantopoulos to visit FYROM on Thursday

Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos)leader Nikos Constantopoulos will visit the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Thursday for talks with the country's political leadership. Mr. Constantopoulos will also be visiting Tirana and B ucharest in the near future.

Mr. Constantopoulos' visits are part of the party's initiatives "for an end to NATO bombings, the achievement of a political solution to the Kosovo crisis, humanitarian aid for refugees and conditions of peace, stability and multifaceted cooperation being secured in the Balkans."

DHKKI begins collecting aid for Yugoslavia

The Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) is collecting humanitarian aid for Yugoslavia, hit by NATO bombings, officials said yesterday.

DHKKI asked its members and the public to contribute whatever they could. The party's headquarters in central Athens are to be used as a collection point throughout the day.

The project is being undertaken with the Yugoslav embassy in Athens.

Tsohatzopoulos visits Kosovo refugees in Albania

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos visited regions on Saturday where the biggest part of refugees from Kosovo have been located.

Accompanied by members of the Greek Embassy in Tirana and the Orthodox Archbishop of Albania Anastasios, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos visited the town of Kukes which is the main point of entry into Albania for Kosovo Albanians.

He visited the Greek military force which in recent days has been creating a refugee settlement, while Greek officers briefed him on the daily shipments of foodstuffs to northern Albania and talked to many refugees staying there.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also held talks with the regional leader and the prefect of Kukes and promised local authorities that humanitarian aid will continue from Greece.

He also visited the port of Durres where the Greek tank carrier "Hios" brought dozens of tonnes of humanitarian aid as well as a big number of trucks. After inspecting the unloading of the humanitarian aid with his Albanian counterpart Luan Haidaraga, he had private talks with him for 30 minutes.

Referring to his talks, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that "our country's priority is the unimpeded return of refugees to their homes, under international guarantee, with the sending of a multinational force. For this reason there must be a political will from Yugoslavia as well. This is the essence of the problem."

On Saturday, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was received by Albanian Prime Minister Panteli Majko who expressed satisfaction over Greece's speedy response to the Albanian government's request for humanitarian aid to avert a humanitarian disaster in the country. He further said that Greece's example must be followed by other countries, appreciating as positive the creation of settlements by the Greek military force.

On Sunday, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated that Greece would not take part in a possible NATO land operation in Yugoslavia. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also forecast that extending military operations from airstrikes to ground warfare was a step that the parties involved would finally manage to avoid.

Conditions were quickly evolving towards a chance for political solution, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

A withdrawal of Serb forces and the unimpeded return of all refugees to Kosovo, guaranteed by an international force, were a realistic base to work towards peace, he added.

More humanitarian aid to Albania

Humanitarian aid, particularly for the Albanian people who are currently facing an acute refugee accumulation problem, is being gathered by a newly- established solidarity committee in Thessaloniki in cooperation with the Archbishop of Albania Anastasios.

The Solidarity for All Committee, composed of Aristotelion University professors and the publisher Petros Papasarantopoulos, is already gathering quantities of foodstuffs which will be sent with an aircraft to be provided by the Greek government and will be distriubuted in Albania at the responsibility of the Archdiocese.

The foodstuffs primarily required are tinned milk, rice, legumes, spaghetti and tinned food. People interested may provide the above items at the installations of the publishing firm and the bookstore "Paratiritis" (observer) in Thessaloniki on a daily basis.

At least 41 killed in traffic accidents over Easter period

This year's Easter was one of the worst in traffic accidents over past years as 41 people were killed and 430 injured in 305 traffic accidents all over the country from Thursday until yesterday afternoon. Twelve people were killed in four traffic accidents alone.

This year's exodus from Athens reached about the same levels as last year since 319,000 cars used the two major Athens-Corinth and Athens-Lamia motorways from Thursday until Saturday, compared to 322,000 cars last year.

Traffic police predict that the number of traffic accident victims will increase since the return of people to urban centres has not yet been completed and is usually completed today.

Prinos oilfield redundant workers reject gov't offer

More than 300 workers made redundant by North Aegean Petroleum Corp. (NAPC) have rejected an offer by the government allowing them to acquire a 50 percent stake in the northern Prinos oilfield.

Under the terms of the offer, which was made by Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos, the remaining 50 percent of the oilfield off the island of Thassos would have gone to an oil industry contractor.

The workers, who would have had the right to choose the contractor, unanimously voted against the deal on Saturday at a meeting in Kavala. But they agreed on a counter-proposal.

"In order to achieve a viable solution, workers are proposing that Hellenic Petroleum should acquire all rights to the oilfield," they said in a letter to Mr. Venizelos.

"Hellenic Petroleum already holds 35 percent of the Northern Prinos field, which means it cannot pull out with the same ease as Denison, the main shareholder," said the workers, who were laid off on December 8.

The consortium headed by the Canadian firm shut down operations citing high costs and low returns. Workers had rejected a cost-cutting scheme proposed by management.

The redundant workers said they wanted to work with Hellenic Petroleum, which is listed on the Athens bourse, to find specialist contractors.

Mr. Venizelos' proposal was a last-ditch attempt to restart operations and conduct further exploration in the region where some deposits have already been located following seismic shoots ordered by NAPC.

The offer followed months of acrimony between workers and NAPC and shuttle talks by the government involving the two sides.

NAPC is not expected to make any move to restore operations, at least until the end of August.

According to sources, the firm wants to have some of its demands accepted by the government, including lower tax on oil from the Thassos field.

WEATHER

Cloud and scattered showers are expected in many parts of the country today. Athens will be sunny with a few clouds and temperatures ranging from 12-21C. Same in Thessaloniki with rain likely in the evening and temperatures ranging from 8-18C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Rates Until Tuesday (buying)
U.S. dollar          297.679
Pound sterling       477.688
Japanese yen (100)   246.423
French franc          49.086
German mark          164.627
Italian lira (100)    16.629
Irish Punt           408.835
Belgian franc          7.982
Luxembourg franc       7.982
Finnish mark          54.153
Dutch guilder        146.110
Danish kr.            43.342
Austrian sch.         23.399
Spanish peseta         1.935
Swedish kr.           35.930
Norwegian kr.         38.337
Swiss franc          201.822
Port. Escudo           1.606
Aus. dollar          186.079
Can. dollar          198.995
Cyprus pound         557.742
Euro                 321.983
(C.E.)
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