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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-04-26

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, 26/04/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece insists: int'l law, UN charter must govern NATO actions
  • Simitis meets with Clinton, Demirel
  • Papantoniou: Kosovo crisis won't affect Greece EMU entry
  • US embassy denies reports of departing personnel
  • Tsohatzopoulos: Military cannot provide solution to Kosovo
  • Greek humanitarian aid transported to Kosovo
  • Concern over oil embargo repercussions against Yugoslavia
  • Tsohatzopoulos briefs Cohen on Greek positions vis-a-vis Balkan
  • Reppas holds talks with Podesta
  • Karamanlis accuses gov't of duplicity in dealing with Kosovo issue
  • Leftist parties call for end of all hostilities in Yugoslavia
  • Residents protest against Voice of America facility in Xanthi
  • Greek First Division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece insists: int'l law, UN charter must govern NATO actions

International law and the United Nations Charter must guide NATO in deciding its actions, Prime Minister Costas Simitis told reporters late Saturday at the end of the first full day of talks at the alliance's summit here.

Mr. Simitis said the United Nations had to provide a legal basis for each decision that spells intervention by NATO beyond its scope of responsibility, as the view of unilateral NATO intervention in crises has been abandoned, as he said.

"There are today much more regional and local confrontations and the question is how NATO should deal with them. There is a question, this is what would be the legal base, while at the same time the alliance must convince that it is in the right," Mr. Simitis said.

The leaders of the alliance's 19 nations discussed NATO's new strategic approach in the wake of the end of bipolarism and the creation of new security conditions.

Greece has stressed that implementation of international law is a necessary prerequisite for every action, otherwise, the Greek premier said, any party can be justified in undertaking unilateral action.

He added that Greece's participation in NATO was a necessity since security and defence issues were today being dealt with on an international level.

"Our strength depends on the alliances we have. The position that Greece should be a non-aligned nation is unworkable," he said, citing as an example the discussion on the European security identity, which Turkey did not desire. If Greece were not participating, he noted, then Turkey would have a leading role in all the regional issues.

Assessing the outcome of the summit's morning session on Saturday, at which the Kosovo issue was discussed, Mr. Simitis said "the climate was not very friendly" for the views expressed by the Greek side (or they do not see things in this way, as he said) as "most countries desire an intensification of bombings."

Conversely, he added that "the climate was very friendly for Greece" since there is understanding for the special problems and double identity of the country.

He said NATO Secretary General Javier Solana also spoke of political initiatives, conceding that there will be no solution "from military intervention alone", and referred to the role of the UN and Russia. He added that wider scepticism exists than at the beginning.

He said that, according to the communique, mention is made of both the UN and Russia. He further said a lengthy discussion was held on the new form the region will have and it is generally accepted that borders must not change.

On the question of humanitarian aid, he said he underlined the need for greater emphasis to be attached and reiterated that a conference will be convened in Athens and mentioned that the idea is being considered of dropping foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals in Kosovo with parachutes.

He reiterated that Greece will not participate in military operations while (replying to a relevant question) adding that so far there is no reason for Greece to place an asterisk or a subnote to decisions.

Simitis meets with Clinton, Demirel

Mr. Simitis said the Kosovo issue was discussed in particular in his meeting with US President Bill Clinton and said he mentioned to him that the extension of operations renders difficult and might thwart what is being pursued.

On Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue, Mr. Clinton again expressed the intention of undertaking initiatives.

However, Mr. Simitis said he is neither more or less optimistic since there is a distance from the intention until something is done. He also clarified that Mr. Clinton did not propose a tripartite meeting with Mr. Demirel, since he understands that there is no preparation at the present moment and a Turkish government has not yet been formed.

Mr. Simitis also discussed the issue of political developments in Turkey with Mr. Demirel, but the discussion was not extended since, as he said, moves or contacts cannot take place before the new Turkish government is formed.

Finally, Mr. Simitis said that on the Kosovo crisis the two countries have parallel views, and that he also had discussions with other leaders, making special reference to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Papantoniou: Kosovo crisis won't affect Greece EMU entry

Greece will petition the European Union for compensation if its tourism, exports or transport sectors are harmed as a result of the Kosovo crisis, although the government does not believe the crisis will derail Athens' entry into Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

"Repercussions (of the Kosovo crisis) on the real economy, tourism, on elections will exist, but they will be small. And there will be no substantial influence on the growth rate of our economy," he said.

"Balkan developments will have no influence on our course towards EMU because all the indicators, inflation, interest rates, are moving at very positive rates," he added.

Meanwhile, Greek businesses with interests and investments in the Balkans will hold a meeting on May 3 to begin coordinating action for reconstruction when hostilities end.

Mr. Papantoniou said Greece would play a leading role in the reconstruction of the Balkans.

US embassy denies reports of departing personnel

The US embassy in Athens issued a press release on Saturday denying recent media reports claiming that civilian and military personnel belonging to the US diplomatic mission in Greece are preparing to depart the country.

"We reiterate also that neither the embassy nor the (US) State Department has advised American citizens to leave Greece, nor has issued advisories cautioning American citizens to leave Greece and warning American tourists against travel to Greece. The embassy is open and functioning normally and we have no plans to leave the country," the press release read.

Tsohatzopoulos: Military cannot provide solution to Kosovo

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed in Washington Saturday that after 30 days of NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, margins are narrowing considerably and either there will be a solution or the crisis will escalate with unforeseen consequences.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, speaking at a press conference concerning the NATO summit's session in the US capital, insisted that military forces cannot provide a solution, reiterating that "political forces must approach a solution to the problem."

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the scenario regarding the deployment of ground forces by NATO in Yugoslavia has been abandoned all together.

Referring to NATO's decision to continue the air strikes, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said "Greece emerged with a position on a political solution to Kosovo, promoting its role as a member of the North Atlantic alliance and of Balkan countries."

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that some maintain that NATO should not be defeated and made to lose its credibility by backing down but, as he said, the decision for bombings was temporary following the collapse of the Rambouillet agreement.

However, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the Yugoslav side continued to escalate the crisis with a policy of "ethnic cleansing, a policy which Greece, as a sufferer, condemns."

"The Greek side desires the safe return of the Albanian refugees to their homes," he said.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also underlined that NATO's communique on Saturday refers to no change in the borders of the region and the utilisation of the existing institutional framework to enable whichever initiative to be based on UN principles with the simul taneous establishment of peacekeeping forces in the region to guarantee the safe return of refugees.

Greek humanitarian aid transported to Kosovo

A convoy of six Greek trucks carrying some 100 tons of humanitarian aid arrived in the embattled Kosovo capital yesterday afternoon.

The shipment is the first humanitarian aid from a foreign country to reach Pristina. The trucks began their journey from Thessaloniki and were escorted from the FYROM border to Pristina by the Greek ambassador to Belgrade.

The aid, mostly foodstuffs and medical supplies, was delivered to Pristina University Hospital, while the Athens branch of the organisation "Doctors of the World" transported 42 tons of medical equipment and eight tons of pharmaceuticals last week to Pristina.

According to reports, the trucks were painted blue and white - the colours of the Greek flag - to protect them from NATO bombs.

Concern over oil embargo repercussions against Yugoslavia

Foreign Minister George Papandreou expressed concern yesterday over a proposed oil embargo against Yugoslavia, which could greatly harm Greek commercial transactions with Europe.

"If we have a big blockade, our commercial transactions with Europe will be blocked," he said, adding that transportation by road is not a realistic alternative due to its high cost.

Mr. Papandreou expressed hope that the embargo will be implemented in a way which will limit losses for Greek shipping.

He added that Greece can face the Serbs of Yugoslavia honourably due to friendly relations with them.

"We have criticised them for what they have done but we maintain reservations over the (NATO) bombings," he said.

Tsohatzopoulos briefs Cohen on Greek positions vis-a-vis Balkan

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos discussed the Kosovo crisis in a meeting with his US counterpart William Cohen yesterday.

According to Greek sources, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos stressed the arguments of Greek policy regarding the need for a political solution, underlining that escalation of military operations distances the possibility of a political solution without providing ano ther breakthrough for a solution.

Mr. Cohen, according to the same sources, expressed Washington's understanding over the particularity of Greece's position and stance - non-participation of forces in operations - as well as over the role Athens can play in promoting humanitarian aid and support for refugees.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reminded of Greece's support for Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and underlined that it was the only country promoting aid both in Kosovo and the rest of Yugoslavia.

Reppas holds talks with Podesta

Press Minister Dimitris Reppas held talks with White House chief of staff John Podesta regarding overall developments and the Kosovo crisis.

Mr. Podesta told Mr. Reppas that Mr. Clinton intends to assume an initiative on the Cyprus issue, which the US president referred to with Mr. Simitis and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel.

The Greek minister also invited Mr. Podesta to visit Greece. The invitation was accepted, according to reports, as the White House official's mother hailed from the Peloponnese town of Leonidio in Arcadia prefecture, Mr. Reppas election district.

Karamanlis accuses gov't of duplicity in dealing with Kosovo issue

Addressing a rally in northern Evia last night, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis again criticised the PASOK government of duplicity, accusing Prime Minister Costas Simitis of following "obedient child tactics and of always saying yes to the orders of others."

Referring to developments in Yugoslavia and the PM's stance, Mr. Karamanlis said the government says "yes to everything abroad" and "then whispers for domestic consumption" that it supposedly disagrees and even apologises for mistaken options.

Mr. Karamanlis said Greece must speak with a clear voice, warn of concealed dangers, influence developments as much as it can, to put an end to irrationality an hour earlier and, at last it should have a unified strategy on this issue.

He further said that the country must not speak to its neighbours with half truths or whispers, but should speak up with a clear and bold voice.

He also referred to the premier's great responsibility in insisting on his "sterile and sole" refusal to accept the creation of a foreign policy council at a time when all political forces, even the foreign minister of the present government, accept the need for national understanding.

Leftist parties call for end of all hostilities in Yugoslavia

Representatives of 25 leftist parties from 15 countries yesterday called for an end to NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia and to all hostilities, attacks and violations of human rights in Kosovo.

The resolution stressed the need for talks to begin immediately for a political settlement of the conflict on the basis of wide autonomy for the province, within the framework of the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The delegations were attending a two-day conference on peace in the Balkans which opened in Athens on Friday.

Finally, a marathon peace walk was held yesterday, the final day of the conference, organised by Synaspismos. The walk began in Marathon and concluded after several hours in front of the US embassy.

Residents protest against Voice of America facility in Xanthi

Hundreds of demonstrators formed a 'human shield' around a building used by US-government sponsored radio broadcaster "Voice of America" near Xanthi on Sunday, in a symbolic protest against the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia.

VOA has used the Xanthi site as a base for decades, broadcasting in dozens of languages.

Members of the Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Committee for Peace, days after a bloody NATO attack on the state-run Serbian television's headquarters in downtown Belgrade, claimed the radio station was broadcasting "warmon- gering and provocative messages against Yugoslavia and Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic."

There were no reports of violence during the protest.

Greek First Division soccer results

Olympiakos Piraeus-Aris Thessaloniki 1-0 Ionikos Piraeus-AEK Athens 2- 1 Iraklis Thessaloniki-Panathinaikos 3-3 PAOK Thessaloniki-Apollon Athens 3-1 Proodeftiki-Veria 1-0 Xanthi-Kavala 4-1 Paniliakos Pyrgos-OFI Iraklion 1-2 Ethnikos Astir-Panelefsiniakos 0-0 Playing Monday: Panionios-Ethnikos Piraeus Standings/points: Olympiakos 68, AEK 61, Panathinaikos 57, PAOK 47, Xanthi 46, OFI 44, Ionikos 43, Aris 42, Iraklis 40, Kavala 36.

WEATHER

Scattered cloud and showers and long spells of sunshine are forecast for most parts of the country today with mild to moderate westerly winds. Athens will be fine with local cloud in the afternoon and temperatures from 10-20C. Thessaloniki will be overcast with small possibility of showers in outlying areas and temperatures from 8-17C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          304.286
Pound sterling       491.139
Japanese yen (100)   254.269
French franc          49.337
German mark          165.470
Italian lira (100)    16.714
Irish Punt           410.925
Belgian franc          8.023
Luxembourg franc       8.023
Finnish mark          54.431
Dutch guilder        146.857
Danish kr.            43.543
Austrian sch.         23.519
Spanish peseta         1.945
Swedish kr.           36.416
Norwegian kr.         39.124
Swiss franc          202.095
Port. Escudo           1.614
Aus. dollar          198.331
Can. dollar          205.780
Cyprus pound         559.488
Euro                 323.630
(C.E.)
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