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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-04-23

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, 23/04/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens says Russian envoy's initiative 'positive'
  • Greece to stress diplomatic avenues at EU meeting
  • Greece working with Tirana, Skopje on refugee aid
  • Greek PM urges political end to Kosovo at Washington forum
  • 500 dead, 400 injured, Yugoslav envoy asserts
  • Opposition leaders want coordinated foreign policy
  • Thessaloniki municipality says no support for land plans
  • Seven youths charged over anti-war violence
  • Greek unemployment edges up to 10.4pct
  • Bankers hope for contained consumer credit
  • Cancer kills one in four men, one in five women
  • Greek equities halt six-day decline
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens says Russian envoy's initiative 'positive'

Greece on Friday described as "positive" the initiative of Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin, who said after talks in Belgrade that he had secured Yugoslavia's agreement to an international presence in war-torn Kosovo. Government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said also that any international force sent to Kosovo to keep the peace should be armed "in order to ensure normality in the region". Replying to reporters' questions, Athanasakis reiterated that Greece would be willing to participate in a Kosovo peacekeeping force provided the opposing sides agreed to such a force. Athanasakis said Greece was in favour of a withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo and the simultaneous cessation of NATO bombing. Chernomyrdin said he had won Yugoslavia's agreement to an "international presence" in Kosovo during a visit to Belgrade on Thursday.

Greece to stress diplomatic avenues at EU meeting

The longer the crisis continues in Kosovo, the farther we are from the peace framework which we had supported, Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said on Friday. Replying to reporters' questions shortly before the European Union General Affairs Council in Luxembourg on Monday and Tuesday, Kranidiotis said the continuation of the crisis would make the possibility of some settlement based on the principles of respect for minority rights and the inviolability of borders more remote. Kranidiotis will represent Greece at the General Affairs Council which, in addition to the Kosovo crisis, will also discuss a common strategy for Russia and EU-USA trade relations. In Luxembourg, the Greek side will put forward a proposal on Kosovo and the greater region, Kranidiotis said, which will underline the need to confront the crisis at a diplomatic level.

Greece working with Tirana, Skopje on refugee aid

Greece is working on the provision of humanitarian aid to the Kosovar refugees and is also collaborating with Albania and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the establishment of refugee camps, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on CNN. In an interview on CNN's Larry King Live, Papandreou spoke of the great cost that would be entailed for the reconstruction of the region after the war ended. He stressed the concern caused among the Greek people by their certainty that Greece, the Balkans' most prosperous nation, would be called on to shoulder a substantial part of that cost. Papandreou called former Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's initiative a positive one, but added that any international security force deployed in Kosovo would have to carry arms so that the refugees would feel safe in returning to their homes.

Greek PM urges political end to Kosovo at Washington forum

The Kosovo crisis is the greatest human tragedy in Europe since World War II, Prime Minister Costas Simitis told an audience of foreign policy experts, diplomats and journalists at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars in Washington on Thursday. Simitis urged Greece's NATO allies to seek a political solution, aimed at restoring stability in the region. The Greek premier was speaking during a reception in his honour held by the Western Policy Center, a foreign policy organisation which promotes debate on American foreign policy towards NATO allies Greece and Turkey and towards Cyprus. "Greece's stalwart support for the NATO alliance and the prime minister's vision of peace, prosperity and security in the Balkans in the years ahead, serve to enhance the U.S.-Greece relationship and strengthen Greece's potential as a critical stabilizing power throughout southeastern Europe," John Sitilides, executive director of the Western Policy Centre, said.

500 dead, 400 injured, Yugoslav envoy asserts

The Yugoslav ambassador in Athens put the death toll from the more than three weeks of NATO bombing in his country at more than 500 along with 4, 000 people seriously injured, during a press conference here. Yugoslav embassy officials also released a detailed list of what they claimed were all the sites bombed in the Balkan country, saying some 500,000 people were now unemployed as a result of NATO military operations. Ambassador Dragomir Vicicevic told reporters that the Milosevic government had recorded more than 7,000 air strikes, with some 700 NATO planes employed in operations and roughly 1,800 missiles fired at Yugoslav territory.

Opposition leaders want coordinated foreign policy

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis and Coalition of the Left president Nikos Konstantopoulos agreed during talks on Friday that a foreign policy council should be set up and a meeting convened of the country's political party leaders. They also agreed that Greece should not become directly or indirectly involved in any operations by NATO ground troops in Yugoslavia. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Karamanlis said the threat of destabilisation in the region was growing and the possibility of a change of borders increasing. Stressing that it was wrong to believe that Greece did not have a voice, Karamanlis said: "To adopt a 'good boy' stance does not suit us, nor does it serve national interests."

Thessaloniki municipality says no support for land plans

Thessaloniki's Municipal Council on Friday voted unanimously against Greece providing further facilities or logistical support for NATO forces planning a ground offensive in Kosovo. According to Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos recently, Parliament must give its permission for foreign troops to use Greek territory. He said, however, that Article 27 overrode this provision by permitting Greece to take all measures it needed to to fulfill its obligations under international treaties and agreements. Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papgeorgopoulos told reporters on Friday that the bombing of Yugoslavia contravened the NATO charter and, as such, Greek support was not covered by the article. Thessaloniki's port and airport is considered to be a key transit point for NATO troops and equipment if a ground attack is decided. To date, NATO has been using Thessaloniki as an entry point for troops and equipment involved in a peacekeeping force based in Skopje and for refugee relief.

Seven youths charged over anti-war violence

Seven youths were charged with a number of offences on Friday following violence during an anti-war rally and march to the U.S. Embassy a day earlier. A strong police presence was deployed to keep any possible supporters of the seven youths at bay but there were no signs of any crowds at the courts. Prosecutor Christos Markoyiannakis charged the seven with distrubing the peace, resisting arrest, assault and possession and use of flares. A cameraman was slightly injured in the violence and glass windows at the European Commission's offices broken during Thursday's march. A state television company vehicle was also torched. Riot police used tear gas to break up the group of youths who threw molotov cocktails and fire crackers outside the U.S. embassy when the march ended at around 10 p.m.

Greek unemployment edges up to 10.4pct

Unemployment in Greece rose slightly to 10.4 percent in December 1998 from 10.3 percent the preceding month and against 9.9 percent in October 1998, a Bank of Greece report said today. Unemployment was running at 8.7 percent and 8.4 percent respectively in December and November 1997.

Bankers hope for contained consumer credit

A containment of consumer credit is anticipated in the private sector after sharp rises in January and February this year, banking circles said today. A Bank of Greece report released today showed a 36.8 percent rise in consumer credit in January against the same month last year, and a 36 percent rise in February against the corresponding month in 1998, reaching 984.5 billion dr. from 713 billion dr.

Cancer kills one in four men, one in five women

Cancer causes the death of one in four men in Greece and constitutes the cause of death of one in five women, according to figures presented on the second day of the 14th Northern Greek Medical Doctors Congress in Thessaloniki. Cited as the second leading cause of mortality worldwide, the incidence of cancer has steadily increased in the second half of this century, Professor Vassilis Kasouyiannopoulos said. The most common form of cancer afflicting men is lung cancer, due primarily to smoking, followed by prostate cancer. Women are most frequently afflicted with breast cancer.

Greek equities halt six-day decline

Equity prices rebounded moderately on the last trading session of the week on the Athens Stock Exchange, halting a six-day decline which saw the market lose 12.07 percent of its value. The general index ended 0.94 percent higher to 3,312.88 points, off the day's highs. The market was nervous and extremely volatile hit by confusion over developments in Kosovo following a new Russian diplomatic initiative to end the war. Traders said investors remained on the sidelines on fears of a ground war in Yugoslavia. Buying activity focused on short-covering. The parallel market index for small cap companies jumped 2.86 percent higher.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today. Overcast in western, central and northern Greece with the possibility of intermittent rain from the afternoon. Winds southerly, light to moderate. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 10-26C. Possibility of rain in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 6-21C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          305.318
Pound sterling       490.306
Japanese yen (100)   253.992
French franc          49.409
German mark          165.708
Italian lira (100)    16.738
Irish Punt           411.517
Belgian franc          8.034
Luxembourg franc       8.034
Finnish mark          54.509
Dutch guilder        147.069
Danish kr.            43.610
Austrian sch.         23.553
Spanish peseta         1.948
Swedish kr.           36.402
Norwegian kr.         39.236
Swiss franc          202.482
Port. Escudo           1.617
Aus. dollar          197.919
Can. dollar          205.284
Cyprus pound         559.488
Euro                 324.096
(M.P.)
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