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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-06-02

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 02/06/1999 (ANA)


  • Simitis says end of war in Yugoslavia likely by Euroelections
  • Karamanlis urges 'resounding message of disapproval'
  • Gov't dismisses latest Turkish claims over Greek isle
  • Yugoslavia`s acceptance of G8 plan `encouraging`
  • Lafontaine: NATO bombings of Yugoslavia a failure
  • Gov't: Foreigners must obey Greek law
  • Five tonnes of chickens imported from Belgium confiscated
  • France leads with 'blue flags', Greece third
  • Stocks jump on hopes of Kosovo deal
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Simitis says end of war in Yugoslavia likely by Euroelections

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday said an end of the war in Yugoslavia was likely by the June 13 Euroelections, during an interview to state-run television.

The Greek premier also distanced himself from the overall handling of the Yugoslavia crisis and the policies applied, as well as with the stance of European socialists.

He added that Europe could have been the "other pole" of power, but showed weakness while the United States took advantage of the vacuum.

Mr. Simitis revealed during his interview that US President Bill Clinton had tabled the issue of a possible change of borders in the Balkans during celebrations of NATO's 50th anniversary in Washington in late April.

He noted that the idea of changes to borders was rejected by the large majority of participating leaders and therefore not accepted by NATO, however, the premier said, it reflected the way the United States regards the region.

The prime minister also did not reject NATO Secretary General Javier Solana's candidacy for the post of assuming the EU's joint foreign, defence and security policy-making portfolio.

He added that discussions are still in progress and that Athens' effort was to have an active participation in European bodies.

Regarding the Ocalan affair, the prime minister stressed that "his trial entails many traps" and that there will be an effort on the part of Turkey to capitalise on it, while he advised caution regarding this issue.

Mr. Simitis said he would not proceed with a government reshuffle after the Euroelections, however, he left the possibility open for filling some vacancies that might be created after the appointment of the EU commissioner.

Finally, the prime minister criticised main opposition New Democracy for "attempting a majority vote in order to hamper Greece's course and cancel the policy that is followed".

Karamanlis urges 'resounding message of disapproval'

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday stressed that a resounding message of disapproval must be sent to the PASOK government during the upcoming Euroelections.

Addressing a press conference, he added that Greece's citizens must support a new start, which will clash with what he called country's decline.

Mr. Karamanlis said he will follow the same course after the Euroelections, letting it be understood that he will not call for early national elections, saying that only the government and the premier can accelerate or slow down political developments.

Referring to PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, Mr. Karamanlis said pictures coming from Turkey cause "sadness and shame". He said that with its handlings, the PASOK government strengthened the most extreme elements in Ankara and that the government was comple tely inadequate to handle the crisis when it found itself "with a bomb in its hands".

Replying to a question on the International Court at The Hague and the government's position that differences between Greece and Turkey be referred to it, he said Greece has every reason to secure the use of international law, adding that ND insists tha t the sole issue which must be resolved at The Hague is the continental shelf issue, adding that if Ankara feels that it must resort to it for all issues it raises it is up to the neighbouring country to do so.

However, commenting on the indictment of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and four other Yugoslav leaders for alleged war crimes, he said it is an unfavourable development and that there are no bodies which are absolutely objective.

Referring to the Yugoslav crisis, he said it is a "mistaken war" and expressed a hope that "those who started it will find the political strength to contribute to the achievement of a peaceful solution".

Gov't dismisses latest Turkish claims over Greek isle

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said Turkey's foreign policy was "at an impasse", while he criticised Ankara's tactics for "supposedly extending the hand of friendship" to Greece and at the same time making claims on Greek territory.

Mr. Reppas was responding to questions about Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem's letter to his Greek counterpart George Papandreou, in which he called for cooperation and improved relations.

The Turkish minister, however, made no reference to taking differences to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Greece has frequently told Ankara should take its unilateral claims disputing Greek sovereignty over a number of rocky outcrops in the eastern Aegean to the court.

On Monday, Turkish patrol boats briefly entered Greek territorial waters near Agathonissi, a small inhabited island near Samos. They left without incident.

Agathonissi has in the past been cited by Ankara as one of four "disputed" inhabited Greek islands.

Mr. Reppas called on the neighbouring country to "go beyond words to deeds."

"Good relations between the two countries require the corresponding stance from both sides, something that Turkey is not doing," he said.

Asked whether the raising of a Greek flag on Agathonissi could be construed as "private individuals exercising foreign policy", Mr. Reppas said it could not.

"Agathonissi is a part of the Greek state with an established community and (raising the flag) is not an issue," he added.

Mr. Cem also reportedly called on his Greek counterpart to sign an "agreement on the struggle against terrorism", a Turkish diplomatic source added yesterday, according to an AFP dispatch.

AFP said the private television channel NTV reported that Mr. Cem made the proposal in a letter he addressed to Mr. Papandreou, in which he underlines the need for a dialogue between Ankara and Athens on the issue.

Yugoslavia`s acceptance of G8 plan `encouraging`

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday stressed from Saudi Arabia that Yugoslavia's acceptance of a G8 plan was "encouraging", while he expressed hope that a UN Security Council resolution would be the basis for peace in the region.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, during talks with his Saudi counterpart focusing on the Kosovo crisis, the Middle East question and peace in the region, noted that "Greece cannot be used for ground operations in Kosovo". He added that "there is no issue or proposal for the use of ground forces on any level, either by NATO or anywhere else".

The Greek defence minister reiterated that Thessaloniki's port will continue to be exclusively used for the NATO peace mission to FYROM, prepared to deploy in Kosovo as soon as an agreement is reached by both sides.

On the Mideast question, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said "Greece supports the prospects of accession to collective security organisations for all countries in the region, namely, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Cyprus, the Palestinian self-rule areas and Is rael, toward a real peace in the region".

He also reiterated Greece's opposition to selective cooperation among countries, such as the Israel-Turkey pact, which "creates concern to neighbouring countries since it carries special weight on a modern military hi-tech level".

The exchange of visits to training centres, cooperation in the defence sector as well as the exchange of know-how was decided on a bilateral level, while Mr. Tsohatzopoulos presented his Saudi counterpart with a letter from President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos addressed to the King of Saudi Arabia, King Fahd ibn Abdul Aziz.

Lafontaine: NATO bombings of Yugoslavia a failure

Former German finance minister Oskar Lafontaine said yesterday that the war in Yugoslavia was characterised by failure and the violation of numerous principles.

"The aims (of NATO's intervention) have not been attained, given that it has not helped the people of Kosovo. On the contrary, it has contributed further to their uprooting," he said.

Mr. Lafontaine, who resigned earlier this year as chairman of Germany's ruling Social Democrat party, was speaking at a book presentation at the Goethe Institute in Athens.

"It is not possible to defend human rights by bombing civilians. We cannot make things right if we do not take into consideration existing international law and do not strengthen it. For example, the United Nations Security Council should not be passed over,"Mr. Lafontaine told reporters.

While acknowledging that NATO had good intentions, he said the way in which the Alliance was acting was "unacceptable".

Gov't: Foreigners must obey Greek law

Athens will continue to implement its policy of granting residence permits to "economic refugees" but will deport illegal immigrants, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stressed yesterday.

Mr. Reppas reiterated that all foreigners living in Greece must respect the law, just as Greek citizens.

He also said the Greek government would not give preferential treatment to citizens of Albania or any other country.

The issue of non-EU foreigners and the law has come to the forefront following last Friday's hijacking of a bus in Thessaloniki by an armed Albanian who took the eight passengers hostage.

After demanding and getting a 50-million-drachma ransom, driving around northern Greece and finally heading into Albania, the hijacker was killed when Albanian police stormed the bus on Saturday morning. A Greek hostage died in the operation.

The action of the Albanian police was strongly criticised by Greece.

In an interview with the BBC over the weekend, Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo claimed that Greece was expelling large numbers of Albanians from the country.

Asked to comment on Mr. Milo's statements, Mr. Reppas stressed that Greece had done much to help Albania, both with respect to its general problems and the problems created by the influx of refugees from Kosovo.

Replying to reporters' questions on the operation in Albania against the bus hijacker, he said Albanian police should not have made any move without first briefing the Greek side, "which it did not".

For as long as the bus was in Greece, Mr. Reppas said, "our efforts were focused on protecting the lives of all the hostages".

Five tonnes of chickens imported from Belgium confiscated

The government said yesterday that state veterinary authorities had impounded five tonnes of frozen chickens imported from Belgium, believed to be contaminated with dioxins.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Paraskevas Foundas said derivative products, such as eggs and albumen P used mainly in making confectionery P had also been impounded.

However, ministry general secretary Dimitris Tzouvannos did not rule out the possibility of quantities of the tainted chicken already having been released on the market.

He said quantities of chicken originating from Belgium had been impounded from both wholesale and retail outlets.

Dioxin is a toxic compound that is carcinogenic and has been linked to birth defects in certain animals. Once absorbed by the human body, dioxin is not excreted.

Possible sources of dioxin pollution are garbage incinerating plants, installations manufacturing iron products, metal-working factories and chemical plants.

The Belgian government last Friday banned the sale of chickens and eggs after flocks on farms near Ghent were found to contain high levels of dioxin.

At the same news conference yesterday, veterinary service officials said 40 tonnes of French chickens contaminated with salmonella had been impounded at the port of Piraeus. The Athens-based food importer "Kanakis S.A." yesterday announced it that will destroy nine tons of Belgian poultry it had imported recently.

Despite the fact there has not been an official order for the destruction of the imported quantities, the company said it will proceed unilaterally with the step.

None of the suspect chickens were reportedly sold to retailers.

France leads with 'blue flags', Greece third

Greece's beaches hold third place in Europe as far as cleanliness is concerned, with 318 awarded 'Blue Flags'. France leads with 399 beaches, followed by Spain with 391.

All nine marina sites submitted were also given distinguished. However, the number of 'Blue Flags' for marinas is low, given the few organised marinas available in Greece. Germany holds first place with 163 Blue Flags for marinas, with Spain coming second with 87.

Stocks jump on hopes of Kosovo deal

Equities rebounded spectacularly yesterday recovering most of last week's sharp losses on the Athens Stock Exchange.

The general index ended 4.36 percent higher at 4,106.43 points, at the day's highs, moving closer to its all-time record of 4,206.76 points. The index lost 6.5 percent last week.

The day's turnover was 158.3 billion drachmas.

Fuelling the market were renewed hopes of a diplomatic solution to the Kosovo crisis; reports of new mergers and takeovers among listed companies; and the purchase of Heracles Cement by Blue Circle Industries of the U.K.

The FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips jumped 4.49 percent to 2,451.92 points.

Banks led the market's rally ending 4.15 percent up. Other sector indices ended as follows: Leasing (+6.88 pct), Insurance (+2.10 pct), Investment (+4.02 pct), Construction (+6.22 pct), Industrials (+4.03 pct), Miscellaneous (+5.10 pct) and Holding (+5. 32 pct).

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 5.69 percent higher.

A total of 114 shares ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 280 to 11 with another four issues unchanged.


Fair weather will prevail in most parts of the country on Wednesday.

Partly cloudy in the afternoon in central and northern Greece. Possibility of showers in Thrace. Winds will be variable, light to moderate, turning strong in the southeastern Aegean Sea.

Fair in Athens where temperatures will range between 17-33C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 16-32C.


Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          308.314
Pound sterling       494.611
Japanese yen (100)   254.845
French franc          49.089
German mark          164.637
Italian lira (100)    16.630
Irish Punt           408.860
Belgian franc          7.982
Luxembourg franc       7.982
Finnish mark          54.157
Dutch guilder        146.119
Danish kr.            43.331
Austrian sch.         23.401
Spanish peseta         1.935
Swedish kr.           35.865
Norwegian kr.         39.075
Swiss franc          202.194
Port. Escudo           1.606
Can. dollar          208.816
Aus. dollar          198.827
Cyprus pound         557.762
Euro                 322.003
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