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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-04-17

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, 17/04/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis says Kosovo developments "dramatic", sees threat for region
  • Greece presents framework for end to Kosovo crisis
  • US envoy asked for clarifications about White House "order"
  • Police accompany French convoy to border
  • Strong quake from sea south of Kalamata
  • Four dead, nine injured in road accident
  • Central bank aims to curtail credit expansion
  • Public investment programme at full steam in '99
  • Greek equities hit by Kosovo strikes
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis says Kosovo developments "dramatic", sees threat for region

Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday described developments in the war- torn Yugoslav province of Kosovo as "dramatic" and a potential threat to peace and stability in the region. Addressing his ruling PASOK party's Central Committee, Simitis said the Kosovo crisis was a "painful blow", the epicentre of which was the drama of the refugees. With peace and stability in the region threatened, he added, the government was obliged to protect vital national interests according to the criterion of "Greece first". The premier said Greece would not participate in military operations against Yugoslavia and stressed the government's opposition to "any act which may lead to a change of existing borders". "Military intervention alone will not solve the problems. Up to now it has not been able to prevent ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, while the refugees, deaths and sickness have become a permanent phenomenon. Instead of being weakened, Milosevic's regime has become more stable, while countries of the region such as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania are facing the threat of political destabilisation," Simitis said. In a related development, an opinion poll by V.PRC published in Saturday's edition of the Athens daily "Ta Nea" showed that 96.2 percent of Greeks were opposed to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, with only 1.3 percent of respondents in favour.

Greece presents framework for end to Kosovo crisis

Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday unveiled the framework of an initiative aimed at a peaceful settlement of the crisis in war-torn Kosovo. Speaking after a marathon five-hour inner cabinet meeting, Simitis said a political solution must be found as quickly as possible involving a cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo, the safe return of refugees to their homes and the deployment in the province of an international peacekeeping force. The mission of the peacekeeping force, he added, should be legalised on the basis of a wide-ranging UN Security Council act.

US envoy asked for clarifications about White House "order"

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis on Friday evening called US Ambassador Nicholas Burns to the ministry to ask for clarifications regarding a White House "executive order" which places the Ionian Sea north of the 39th parallel in the zone of NATO operations against Yugoslavia. A foreign ministry statement said Kranidiotis told Burns that the order was purely "of an internal nature" and could not have any international legal effects. According to the statement, Burns reserved the right to reply after first being fully briefed on the content and nature of the order.

Police accompany French convoy to border

A strong police force accompanied a convoy of eight French vehicles and containers to Greece's border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Friday, after the demonstrators the night before prevented the supplies from reaching the border post. The eight French multi-purpose military vehicles and 48 containers were forced to return to the port of Thessaloniki after about 100 protestors near Polykastro, Kilkis prefecture, blocked their way. The convoy was headed for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with supplies for a French contingent in the small landlocked country.

Strong quake from sea south of Kalamata

Seismologists in Athens and Thessaloniki on Saturday recorded an earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale coming from the seabed 300 kilometres south-west of Athens. The quake was recorded at 11.18 local time by the Geodynamics Institute of Athens National Observatory and the Geophysics Laboratory of Thessaloniki University. There have been no reports of damage or casualties. The epicentre of the quake was south of the Peloponnese town of Kalamata which was devastated by a 1986 earthquake in which 20 people died and over 30 injured.

Four dead, nine injured in road accident

Four people were killed and nine injured in a road accident involving four vehicles on the Athens-Patras motorway on Saturday morning. The accident took place at Eliki, Aigialeia. The four dead, three of whom were members of the same family, were the occupants of one of the vehicles in the initial collision and subsequent pile-up.

Central bank aims to curtail credit expansion

The Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, announced a series of measures aimed to contain credit expansion in the banking sector and to achieve a primary target of price stability this year. The central bank noted that the country's commercial banks have agreed not to roll over to depositors any financial burden arising from the new credit measures and in particular not to lower their deposit interest rates. The bank's monetary policy council decided to impose on commercial banks, which raise their credits to the private sector and public enterprises above the central bank's annual targets, to keep penalty interest-free deposits with the Bank of Greece equal to their excess credits. The Bank of Greece said that measures were temporary and aimed to support efforts to fullfil the Maastricht criteria for participation in EMU.

Public investment programme at full steam in '99

Spending on projects included in a 2nd Community Support Framework (CSF) programme was expected to cover 80 percent of total spending this year, Economy Alternate Minister Christos Pahtas said today. Pahtas said that the public investment programme would be fully implemented this year, for the first time ever. He predicted that Greece would fully absorb its allocated funds from the current CSF by the year 2000. Public investment programme's payments totalled 395.5 billion drachmas in the first quarter, or 18 percent of the total budget, up from 11.9 percent in the same period last year.

Greek equities hit by Kosovo strikes

Equity prices ended the last trading session of the week substantially lower on the Athens Stock Exchange hit by fears of a prolonged NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia. The general index ended 2.24 percent off to 3, 559.32 points. Turnover was 140.9 billion drachmas and volume 31,150,069 shares. Traders said fading hopes of a diplomatic initiative by the European Union and Russia to end the crisis in Kosovo and Washington's determination to press on with its military campaign undermined sentiment in the Greek market.

WEATHER

Scattered cloud throughout Greece on Sunday, heavier in the north-west with possibility of local showers. Winds westerly moderate in sea regions strong at times. Mostly fair in Athens, with temperatures between 13-24C. Same in Thessaloniki, temperatures 13-20C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          298.473
Pound sterling       481.398
Japanese yen (100)   250.659
French franc          49.070
German mark          164.587
Italian lira (100)    16.625
Irish Punt           408.734
Belgian franc          7.980
Luxembourg franc       7.980
Finnish mark          54.140
Dutch guilder        146.074
Danish kr.            43.313
Austrian sch.         23.393
Spanish peseta         1.934
Swedish kr.           36.059
Norwegian kr.         38.625
Swiss franc          200.741
Port. Escudo           1.606
Aus. dollar          189.164
Can. dollar          199.293
Cyprus pound         556.512
Euro                 321.904
(S.S.)
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