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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-04-24

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, 24/04/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis warns on Balkan destabilisation if Kosovo crisis continues
  • Press unions, parties condemn NATO attack on Yugoslav journalists
  • Armenian community groups hold sitdown strike at Turkish embassy
  • Athens praises Chernomyrdin initiative as `positive`
  • Tsohatzopoulos talks with US Sen. Sarbanes
  • G. Papandreou details Athens' humanitarian initiatives to CNN
  • Thessaloniki votes against any more support for NATO passage
  • CoE health ministers focus on Europe's elderly
  • Economy unscathed by Kosovo conflict, minister says
  • State gets Dlr 600 million syndicated loan
  • Stocks rise after six-day slump
  • Minister sees little impact on tourism from Kosovo crisis
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis warns on Balkan destabilisation if Kosovo crisis continues

Prime Minister Costas Simitis warned here yesterday that continuation of the Kosovo crisis will lead to widespread destabilisation in the Balkans, something he said is already affecting the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedon ia (FYROM) and Albania. Speaking during the first day of a summit of NATO's 19 member states, held to commemorate the Alliance's 50-year anniversary, he also called for a political approach to the Kosovo crisis. Mr. Simitis, who also outlined the consequences of the Kosovo crisis for Greece, said Athens' position is that the arming of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) entails dangers, adding there should be no change in borders, while the solution should b e widespread autonomy for Kosovo. "NATO always gave priority to a peaceful settlement to differences," Mr. Simitis said, pointing out that the military operations may be going ahead but this does not mean that the effort at a diplomatic level should not continue in parallel. Mr. Simitis said the policy of ethnic cleansing followed by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Kosovo was unacceptable and reiterated Gre-ece's three priorities in tackling the crisis, namely, the need of finding a political solution as soon as possible, a restructuring and development plan for the "next day" in the Balkans an d providing humanitarian aid. On his part, US President Bill Clinton expressed satisfaction that Greece and Turkey were seated at the same table and recognised the important role played by Athens in relation to the dispatch of humanitarian aid to Kosovo.

Press unions, parties condemn NATO attack on Yugoslav journalists

The early morning NATO air strike against the state-run radio and television building in Belgrade was condemned yesterday by representatives of Greece's mass media and the Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA). The Union's President Nikos Kiaos, meanwhile, said the "military targets (of NATO) became civilian and are now targets against information, since yesterday's attack was obviously against free information. It was also announced during a press conference that Greek newspapers and television news broadcasts will feature a black ribbon "in mourning for that attack." In a related development, the Greek Radio and Television employees' union (POSPERT) expressed "disgust" for what it called the "inhuman and cowardly attack of NATO forces" on the radio and television building of Belgrade. Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said any such actions cause disgust and are utterly condemnable by any civilised person. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) stated that the motive of the attack against the public radio and television building was to "hide the truth from the international public opinion, which is the recipient of misinformation and poisonous hate agaist pe oples." The Coalition for the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) noted that the attack was a hit against information and communication in Yugoslavia and the world.

The Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) expressed its disgust over the attack, calling it a "cowardly and cold blooded murder".

Athens News Agency

Armenian community groups hold sitdown strike at Turkish embassy

Dozens of youth groups from the ethnic Armenian community began a 24-hour sitdown protest in front of the Turkish embassy in Athens yesterday. A resolution attached to the Turkish embassy's entrance by the organisations called for the recognition and condemnation of the genocide of some 1.5 million Armenians perpetrated by Turkish forces in 1915, the return of ancestral territory Ankara illegally holds to the Armenian people, an end to the arming of Azerbaijan and Turkey's contribution to peace initiatives aimed at finding a just and viable solution to the issue of Nagorno Karabakh, as well as the lifting of the stifling blockade imposed on th e Republic of Armenia by Turkey.

Athens praises Chernomyrdin initiative as `positive`

Athens yesterday 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, Mr. Athanasakis reiterated that Greece would be willing to participate in a Kosovo peacekeeping force provided the opposing sides agreed to such a force.

Tsohatzopoulos talks with US Sen. Sarbanes

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos discussed the Kosovo crisis and Greek-US relations with Maryland Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes on Thursday on the sidelines of the UN summit. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos explained the particularity of Greece's position as a NATO and European Union member-state and a Balkan country, adding that a war in the Balkans must be avoided and, additionally, to NATO's activities, there should be prospects for a realistic political approach to the problem.

G. Papandreou details Athens' humanitarian initiatives to CNN

Greece was working on the provision of humanitarian aid to the Kosovar refugees, while it was also cooperating with the Albanian and FYROM governments to establish refugee camps, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said during a televised interview on the Atlanta-based Cable News Network (CNN). In the interview, Mr. Papandreou spoke of the "great cost" that would be entailed for the reconstruction of the region after the war ended. Mr. 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.

Thessaloniki votes against any more support for NATO passage

Thessaloniki's Municipal Council yesterday voted unanimously against Greece providing further facilities or logistical support for NATO forces planning a ground offensive in Kosovo.

The council called on President Kostis Stephanopoulos to seek a meeting of political party leaders and for Parliament to discuss whether the Constitution was clear on whether the Parliament's approval did not need to be sought to allow NATO access.

According to Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos recently, Parliament must give its permission for foreign troops to use Greek territory. He said, however, that Article 28 overrode this provision by permitting Greece to take all measures it needed to f ulfill its obligations under international treaties and agreements.

Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos told reporters yesterday that the bombing of Yugoslavia contravened the NATO charter and, as such, Greek support was not covered by the article.

CoE health ministers focus on Europe's elderly

Council of Europe member-states' health ministers yesterday pledged to "build a better future" for rapidly growing numbers of elderly on the continent, during their sixth meeting, which took place in Athens.

In a press release, the CoE ministers expressed concern over the crisis in the Balkans and its effects on refugees, calling on the Council to contribute to international efforts to support relevant services.

The ministers of the 40 member-states participated in the "Ageing in the 21st Century: The Need for a Balanced Approach".

Economy unscathed by Kosovo conflict, minister says

Adverse repercussions on the overall economy from the Yugoslav crisis are negligible although some sectors may suffer minor damage, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday. "Positive trends in the Greek economy are facing some problems due to the Kosovo crisis, which are natural, and pose some questions," Mr. Papantoniou told the Athens News Agency in an interview. The minister said that if military operations lasted for months, slight repercussions would be seen on tourism, and probably on the transport sector. "But I repeat that this is a negligible impact in terms of the entire economy," he said.

State gets Dlr 600 million syndicated loan

Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis yesterday signed a 600- million-dollar syndicated loan for the public sector with a consortium of banks from abroad. The loan's duration is five years and the interest is Libor plus 0.275 percent.

Lead managers of the loan are Commaerzbank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Ltd, Bank of Montreal, Barclays, Paribas and Bayerische Landesbank Girozentrale AG. The finance ministry said in a statement that demand was robust for the loan in the European market.

Mr. Christodoulakis noted the Greek economy's rapid progress in recent years towards meeting criteria for entry into the euro zone.

Stocks rise after six-day slump

Equity prices rebounded moderately yesterday in 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 at 3,312.88 points, off the day's highs.

At the central bank's daily fix, the euro ended at 326.240 drachmas from 326.710 drachmas in the previous trading session.

The parity was 325.5 drachmas in trade after the fix, and then 326.4 drachmas.

Minister sees little impact on tourism from Kosovo crisis

The impact from the Kosovo crisis on domestic tourism is limited, Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said yesterday.

Addressing the inaugural meeting of the National Tourism Council, Mr. Venizelos said that 1999 would be a good year for the industry, and an advertising campaign for the next season would begin immediately.

He said that the adverse impact on tourism from NATO's bombings of Yugoslavia mainly concerned tourist arrivals from the United States and from neighbouring countries involved in the crisis.

Any drop in tourism from the United States did not pose a serious problem as arrivals averaged 250,000 annually, a minor part of incoming tourism.

WEATHER

Scattered clouds in western, central and northern Greece on Sunday with Mostly fair weather in the rest of the country. Winds southerly, moderate to strong out at seas. Fair weather for early on Sunday in Athens, cloudy with possible rain in the afternoon with temperatures between 11-24C. Partly cloudy and rain in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 9-19C.

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.S.)
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