Simitis: Security Council resolution on Kosovo binding for all
Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night hailed a UN Security Council
resolution for the deployment of a multinational force in Kosovo.
"The resolution is binding for all: NATO, the Serbs, and third parties. It
constitutes the legal framework for the implementation of procedures
leading to peace. These procedures must be implemented by all, without
exception. The UN members have an obligation for this," Mr. Simitis said in
"Peace is a reality. The bombings have stopped. The refugees will be able
to return to their homes. Difficulties will arise, of course. But the basic
precondition for implementing peace has been set in motion.
"It justifies Greece's position until this day. It justifies our view to
insist on political negotiations, diplomatic initiatives, in constant
communication with all the parties involved," he said, adding:
"The government, in the maelstrom of war, effectively protected the
country's interests. We have kept the country far from military involvment.
Greece remained a reliable interlocutor with the Serbs, NATO and all
interested parties. Our country remained in this region an oasis of peace,
security, stability. Thanks to our policy, Greece played a role; has a role
and has prospects.
Earlier, FM George Papandreou welcomed the signing of a military agreement
by NATO and Yugoslavia, saying it opened the way for peace.
"Our thoughts turn today to the innocent victims of the crisis, both on the
side of the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo and the Serbs," Mr. Papandreou told
reporters at Athens airport shortly before departing for Cologne, stressing
that the end of the war did not mean an end to all the problems which have
Mr. Papandreou said Greece was now called upon to shoulder a large burden
of responsibility for "the day after" within the framework of efforts for
the reconstruction of the Balkans, the reconciliation of peoples of the
region and the strengthening of regional cooperation. He added that the
signing in Cologne yesterday of the Stability Pact for SE Europe was aimed
precisely at preventing future crises.
Mr. Papandreou said it was absolutely necessary for the Serb people "who
paid a heavy price for the war" to become reconciled with Europe, noting
that they should under no circumstances be "isolated".
Karamanlis calls on voters to treat Euro-elections as referendum
Concluding his campaign for Sunday's Euroelection with a large rally in
Athens yesterday, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis
stressed that citizens faced the dilemma of "whether to approve or condemn
"This is a clear and honest dilemma which our party poses. By contrast,
(prime minister) Mr. Simitis does not dare ask the people to say 'yes' to
his policies, but opts instead for danger-mongering, blackmail and murky
positions," he said.
He punctuated his speech with the "new start" slogan that has characterised
ND's campaign, and rejected ruling PASOK's oft-stated position that
stability was at stake in this election.
"We are not returning to the past to uncover old divisions, but are forging
ahead to the future with a new unity. PASOK's supposed stability is
insecurity, a general deterioration and marginalisation. Today's real
Greece is that of the unemployed, crime, the collapse of health services,
education without a strategy, overwhelming taxes and national concessions,"
He also accused the prime minister of being "cut-off" from the problems of
citizens, and of "living in a world of fantasies".
"Mr. Simitis did not impose austerity on the state and his selected few,
but he did so harshly on citizens. The living standards of entire groups in
the population are being crushed," he charged.
Mr. Karamanlis said ND supported the goal of the country joining Economic
and Monetary Union (EMU), and when this happens "we shall owe it to the
sacrifices of the citizens, the EMU battle will have been won by the
people". Speaking for the first time from a written text, Mr. Karamanlis
listed 10 priorities for his party when it comes to power, including
reforming the state, dynamic development, slashing waste in the public
sector, tax reductions, dealing with crime, strat egies for national issues
and education, support to farmers and a focus on citizens' everyday
Simitis on Euro-elections' importance for country
Prime Minister Costas Simitis said that Sunday's Euro-elections are crucial
for Greece's position in the EU and citizens are being called on to back
the PASOK government in its task until next year's national elections, when
its work will be judged.
"The question that should concern every citizen is in what direction the
country will head: To continue this journey, which has produced specific
benefits, both economically and socially, or to go to a process of revision
which will jeopardise the achie vements of the last few years," he said
before some 100 provincial TV stations.
He defended his government's policy in the Kosovo crisis, saying it took
into account Greece's special position and interests without breaking links
with its allies and while also maintaining friendly ties with Balkan
British defence secretary on Athens' role Kosovo crisis
British Defence Secretary George Robertson yesterday lauded the role of
Greece's political leadership during NATO's operations against Yugoslavia,
"despite the fact that (Greek) public opinion appeared opposed to the war",
as he noted.
"Greece is in the European Union and NATO. It played this role during the
war in Yugoslavia. I wish to praise the political leadership of Greece
which, despite the fact that public opinion appeared to be against the war,
kept a steadfast position becaus e it believed in the ideals of overall
security. It gave great assistance and facilities to troops to pass from
Thessaloniki to Skopje," he said.
Mr. Robertson made the statement at a press conference yesterday and in
reply to a question over Greece's role during the war as well as the
Athens requests sector of responsibility in Kosovo
Greece's participation in an international peace force for Kosovo is
estimated to number between 1,200-1,500 troops, comprising two motorised
infantry battalions, apart from medical and support units.
NATO officials said Athens' request to assume a sector of responsibility is
being viewed favourably by the Alliance.
The first peace force units to arrive in Kosovo will be those of British
general Mike Jackson, who will set up his headquarters in Pristina.
Greece hails G8 initiative regarding Cyprus problem
Foreign Minister George Papandreou hailed the initiative undertaken on the
Cyprus issue by the G8's foreign ministers, included in the "conclusions"
of their two-day sessions, which ended here yesterday.
The Greek side had been "expecting it for several weeks", Mr. Papandreou
The G8 foreign ministers - representing he world's seven most industrialised
nations and Russia - recommended that the United Nations call the Greek and
Turkish Cypriots comprehensive talks without any preconditions.
Replying to a question, Mr. Papandreou said the invitation to unconditional
talks does not create any problem and referred to explicit reference made
in a relevant paragraph that the finding of an overall solution is based on
the resolutions of the UN's Security Council.
Regarding an appeal made by the G8 to all parties involved in the Cyprus
issue, including Greece and Turkey, to abstain from moves capable of
creating tension on the island, Mr. Papandreou referred indirectly to Greek-
"This is of particular importance. If we want to shape a climate which
without threats, without conflicting logics a prospect can open for a
solution to the Cyprus issue," he said.
The government announced yesterday that it expects "deeds, not words" from
Ankara, something to show it was committed to regional peace and cooperation.
"We don't expect statements from the new Turkish government but deeds that
will symbolise a turn to the principles of peace and cooperation in the
region," acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis told reporters.
US marine disembark at Litohoro en route to FYROM
A convoy of some 1,200-1,500 US marines destined for a peacekeeping force
in Kosovo set out yesterday morning from the Gritsa port in Litohoro, south
of Thessaloniki, under heavy police guard and en route to the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRO M).
The troops will join the NATO peacekeeping force and from there eventually
head to Kosovo.
The US marines had been in waiting nearly a week on two warships and a
helicopter carrier in the Aegean for the Greek government's permission to
land at Litohoro and from there to FYROM.
Athens had issued a 10-day prohibition on the passage of foreign troops
through Greek territory in the run-up to Sunday's Euroelections.
The government said on Monday, however, that the conditions were completely
different than when the prohibition was enforced since the peacekeeping
process had now been set in motion, adding that Greece would facilitate the
situation so that there would be no security vacuum after the withdrawal of
the Serbian forces from Kosovo.
A large number of coaches and trailer trucks were waiting at the tiny port
to transport the troops and equipment.
About 300 Communist Party of Greece (KKE) supporters who had gathered at
dawn near the Gritsa coast were kept back for security reasons by 15 squads
of police officers, and lined up along the convoy's route shouting anti-
The KKE's local organisation in Thessaloniki has called a rally for this
evening in central Thessaloniki to protest the transport of military forces
to FYROM via Greece despite the signing on Wednesday night of a Kosovo
Damage to Greek economy from Balkan 'troubles' at 100 billion dr.
National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday that the
signing of the Kosovo peace agreement meant that damage incurred by the
Greek economy would be contained at approximately 100 billion drachmas or
0.2 per cent of GDP.
During a television interview on a private station, Mr. Papantoniou said
the Greek government would seek compensation from the European Union for
the losses sustained.
The government and the central bank had initially estimated that the cost
of the war for Greece would be between 0.2 and 0.5 per cent of GDP in 1999,
depending on how long the Kosovo crisis continued.
Greece's projected GDP growth for the current year is 3.5 per cent.
Mutual funds' assets increase
Total assets of mutual funds increased by 0.56 per cent between June 8-9
and reached 10.011 trillion drachmas.
The biggest percentage increase was shown by the assets of the domestic
available funds management (0.85 per cent) followed by domestic bonds with
an increase of 0.26 per cent, domestic shares (0.20 per cent) and domestic
joint funds (0.07 per cent).
Assets of share mutual funds have achieved an increase exceeding 195 per
cent since the beginning of the year. This is due to the high yields they
offered during 1998 (in certain cases they exceeded 100 per cent), as well
as to the high yields they are continuing to show during the current
EPB to increase share capital, seek listing on ASE
The European Popular Bank (EPB) has decided to increase its share capital
five-fold, from 5.5 billion Greek drachmas to 25 billion.
The Bank, a subsidiary of the Cyprus Popular Bank Group, also decided to
seek a listing on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).
Both moves were announced at a press conference in Athens yesterday, by the
Executive Chairman of the Popular Bank Group and Chairman of the Board of
Directors of the EPB, Kikis Lazarides.
"We are in contact with management at the ASE and are trying to secure the
appropriate information on how to seek a listing and I believe this will be
easy and quick," Mr. Lazarides said.
Asked if the listing on the ASE signals a turning point away from the
Cypriot market towards Greece, Mr. Lazarides said "we are not giving up
Cyprus under any circumstances."
Cyprus, he explained, "is our base and we shall continue to expand and make
every possible effort to be in the forefront."
Mr. Lazarides said that by the end of this year there will be 17 offices of
the EPB operating in Greece, four more offices than in 1998.
"We hope to have between 40 and 50 offices in the next three years," he
He said the Group will try to achieve a strong and profitable presence in
Greece, in the UK and strengthen its presence in Australia, the US and
Bogus bonds scam uncovered
Authorities yesterday arrested two men on charges of flooding the market
with fake Swedish state bonds worth 362.9 million drachmas.
Members of the financial crimes squad acted on information they received
last month, according to which fake bonds were being sold to unsuspecting
Greek investors as possible collateral in order to obtain bank loans.
A first batch of 45 such bonds were identified as bogus by Sweden's state
forensic laboratory on June 5, and since then the total number of
confiscated bonds rose to 981, each bearing a nominal value of 10,000
Police arrested Vassilis Mavridis, a Thessaloniki resident who runs a
financial services office in the city, and Apostolos Skorditis, a retired
army major, believed to have supplied the fake paper to the former.
An investigation is continuing.
Sunny weather is forecast in most parts of Greece today with the possibility
of showers in central and northern Greece in the afternoon. Winds variable,
moderate to strong. Few clouds in otherwise sunny Athens with temperatures
between 21-34C. Possibility of showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures
Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar 307.163
Pound sterling 492.687
Japanese yen (100) 257.652
French franc 48.992
German mark 164.313
Italian lira (100) 16.597
Irish Punt 408.053
Belgian franc 7.967
Luxembourg franc 7.967
Finnish mark 54.050
Dutch guilder 145.831
Danish kr. 43.255
Austrian sch. 23.355
Spanish peseta 1.931
Swedish kr. 36.049
Norwegian kr. 39.134
Swiss franc 201.515
Port. Escudo 1.603
Can. dollar 208.538
Aus. dollar 203.097
Cyprus pound 555.897