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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 99-05-10

Macedonian Press Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.


MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY NEWS IN ENGLISH
Thessaloniki, May 10, 1999

SECTIONS

  • [A] NATIONAL NEWS
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • NEWS HEADLINES

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] GREEK PREMIER IN THESSALONIKI, INAUGURATES BORDER OPERATION
  • [02] THESSALONIKI, THE EPICENTER OF POLITICAL, ECONOMIC INTERESTS
  • [03] SIXTH FORUM GETS UNDERWAY IN THESSALONIKI
  • [04] MAIN OPPOSITION LEADER TO MEET WITH ALBANIAN, FYROM PMs
  • [05] SERB NEWS AGENCY TANJUG IS SAID TO BE EYED BY NATO AS TARGET
  • [06] S.E. EUROPEAN UNIVERSITIES APPEAL FOR AN END TO KOSOVO CRISIS
  • [07] PANDELI MAJKO: THE 6TH INTER-BALKAN FORUM IS AN ISLAND OF HOPE IN THE TROUBLED BALKANS
  • [08] SIMITIS: THE GOVERNMENT WILL DO EVERYTHING FOR PEACE IN THE REGION
  • [09] THE 6TH INTER-BALKAN FORUM CONTINUES IN THESSALONIKI
  • [10] APPEALS FOR INVESTMENTS IN THE BALKANS BY THE FYROM FINANCE MINISTER
  • [11] REPPAS COMMENTED ON THE NATO BOMBING OF THE CHINESE EMBASSY IN BELGRADE
  • [12] REPPAS ON SOLANA'S CONFIDENTIAL LETTER
  • [13] GREECE'S GROWTH RATE WILL EXCEED THE AVERAGE OF THE "15" IN THE PERIOD 1999-2000
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [14] GREEK PRESIDENT ON OFFICIAL VISIT TO GEORGIA
  • [15] PRESIDENT STEPHANOPOULOS MEETS WITH GEORGIAN COUNTERPART
  • [16] GREEK PRESIDENT INAUGURATES SAE'S HOSPITAL IN GEORGIA
  • [17] GREEK PRESIDENT TO PAY VISIT TO ARMENIA ON MAY 11-13
  • [18] HELLENIC PETROLEUM DEAL ENDORSED BY FYROM'S GOVERNMENT
  • [19] NIS BOMBARDED BY NATO DURING THE COURSE OF THE NIGHT
  • [20] NATO SLAMS BELGRADE COURT ACTION AS "FRIVOLOUS & CYNICAL"
  • [21] CLINTON SENDS LETTER OF APOLOGY TO CHINESE CHAIRMAN
  • [22] CHINA TO INVESTIGATE AIR BOMBING OF ITS BELGRADE EMBASSY
  • [23] CHERNOMYRDIN TRAVELS TO BEIJING TODAY
  • [24] RUGOVA FAVORS THE DISARMING OF THE KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY
  • [25] HELLENIC-SWEDISH FRIENDSHIP PARLIAMENTARY ASSOCIATION OPENS
  • [26] VICTOR CHERNOMYRDIN WILL VISIT PEKING
  • [27] NATO ATTACKED SERB POSITIONS AT THE BORDERS WITH ALBANIA
  • [28] PART OF THE YUGOSLAV ARMY BEGAN ITS WITHDRAWAL FROM KOSSOVO

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] GREEK PREMIER IN THESSALONIKI, INAUGURATES BORDER OPERATION

    Greece's Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who is presently in Northern Greece in order to participate at the Thessaloniki-held sixth annual Business Forum economic conference, yesterday inaugurated the frontier post of Krystallopighi on the Greek- Albanian border.

    During the ceremony, the Premier stated the continuation of NATO's bombings against Yugoslavia entails only dangers, stressing that flexibility was necessary for peace to be achieved in the Balkans, coupled with prudence and caution in the implementation of any policy applied for peace in the region.

    Mr. Simitis further added that Greece will do all it can so that a political solution is found to the crisis, noting that the European Union is to discuss later this month Greece's plan for the reconstruction of the Balkans.

    During the installation of the new border guard corps in the prefectures of Florina, Kastoria and Ioannina, Mr. Simitis stated that the government was advancing the development of Macedonia, as it will constitute the basis for Greece's development of relations with the neighboring countries. Mr. Simitis said that one trillion drachmas have been allocated for projects in the region under the Second Community Support Framework (CSF), adding that approximately 20,000 smaller and larger-scale projects are currently being carried out throughout the country.

    [02] THESSALONIKI, THE EPICENTER OF POLITICAL, ECONOMIC INTERESTS

    Thessaloniki takes center stage in the world's political and economic affairs, by hosting the two-day, sixth annual Economic Forum. Greece's Premier Costas Simitis is to meet with his counterparts from Portugal, FYROM and Albania, Messrs. Antonio Gutierres, Liupco Georgievski and Panteli Majko, respectively.

    Mr. Simitis and the Portuguese Premier are to travel to the monastic community of Mt. Athos today, where they will visit various monasteries.

    [03] SIXTH FORUM GETS UNDERWAY IN THESSALONIKI

    A major Balkan economic conference, an annual event held by the Federation of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE), is beginning in Thessaloniki today, where the participants will focus on the situation in the Balkans a decade after the deregulation of markets. In addition to Greece's Premier, the Forum will feature the participation of Foreign Minister George Papandreou, National Economy Yiannos Papantoniou, Development Evangelos Venizelos, Macedonia-Thrace Yiannis Magriotis and the undersecretaries of Development. The event is co-organized by the Macedonia-Thrace Bank and the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce.

    [04] MAIN OPPOSITION LEADER TO MEET WITH ALBANIAN, FYROM PMs

    The leader of Greece's main opposition party, New Democracy's Kostas Karamanlis, is to meet with the Prime Ministers of Albania and FYROM, Messrs. Panteli Majko and Lupcko Georgievski, respectively, in Thessaloniki this evening.

    Their meeting will be held within the framework of the sixth annual Business Forum, which started in Thessaloniki today.

    [05] SERB NEWS AGENCY TANJUG IS SAID TO BE EYED BY NATO AS TARGET

    The editor in chief of the Yugoslav state-owned news agency Tanjug believes that the organization is among NATO's bombing targets, with an attack being imminent.

    According to Slobodan Lazarevic, media organizations are included in the Alliance's targets, which so far have struck embassies, hotels and open markets, not including the television building massacre.

    Mr. Lazarevic made the aforementioned statement shortly before his departure form Thessaloniki where he had participated in an extraordinary conference hosted by the MPA. The news agencies from all the countries comprised in the Balkan region, and those countries neighboring with the peninsula. met in Thessaloniki in order to examine the problems that have arisen in the operation of the mass media organizations as a result of the dramatic events taking place in Yugoslavia.

    [06] S.E. EUROPEAN UNIVERSITIES APPEAL FOR AN END TO KOSOVO CRISIS

    The Association of South-Eastern Europe Economic Universities (ASECU) founded in Thessaloniki, has issued an appeal to state and government leaders throughout S.E. Europe, the European Union, the U.S, Australia and Canada to do everything within their power so that peace is restored to the Balkan region.

    The ASECU's chairman, Professor Yiannis Tsekouras, has stated that the region's countries must first resolve their home affairs and then turn to assistance from close or distant neighbors, whether European and/or American.

    In his letter, forwarded to thirty state and government leaders throughout the world, Mr. Tsekouras also issued an explicit appeal to the political leaders of Yugoslavia and , the leaders of the Albanian Kosovars to "take immediate action so that all Kosovars (both Albanians and Serbs) may return and be reinstated to their homes safely under conditions of full respect for individual and minority rights and so that the highest possible autonomy is conceded to them.

    "This is what the long cultural tradition and contemporary civilization of the Balkan people, that we so often boast about, demands. This is what modern culture, which seems to be deficient in our region as well, demands. This is what an unbiased sense of logic dictates," he stated.

    "The situation in Yugoslavia, as seen by us in the Balkans is not a civil war since it tends to develop into a war of nations," Mr. Tsekouras added.

    " The European idea of peace, democracy and prosperity that we all fought to establish and bear fruit seems to be in danger of dissolving within the storm of a senseless and pointless war. A war that may have been started by the nationalism of the Yugoslavian leadership and the few at the beginning extremist separatist Albanian Kosovars, but which has been intensified and allowed to spread by the arrogance and selfishness of the powerful and the conceit of those who are better off.

    "Europe has managed to construct the European Union idea through its polyphonic and multicultural dimension by "giving way" and "sacrificing" national interests on all sides. This led to peace within our continent. At present, instead of supporting the principles of the European idea and helping them be established in the Balkans (in an effort to bring closer and later incorporate the Balkan countries in the European Union), we are bombing the European dream, we incite race against race and religious group against religious group, thus rekindling hatred and passions that were born and developed centuries ago."

    ASECU comprises more than forty Universities from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, FYROM, Turkey, Yugoslavia and Greece, while another 20 Universities have expressed interest and are in the process of becoming members.

    The main aim of the Association is to contribute towards a supra-national cooperation, promoting economic and social progress as well as closer bonds among the peoples of the region through working together in the scientific and research fields.

    Professor Tsekouras is also the Pro-Rector at the Thessaloniki-based University of Macedonia.

    [07] PANDELI MAJKO: THE 6TH INTER-BALKAN FORUM IS AN ISLAND OF HOPE IN THE TROUBLED BALKANS

    Albanian prime minister Pandeli Majko characterized the 6th Annual Inter-Balkan Forum that takes place in Thessaloniki as an island of hope in the troubled Balkans.

    Speaking in the formal lunch at noon today, the Albanian prime minister referred to the massacres in Kosovo and the war clashes and sent a message of peace saying that his country, the poorest of Europe, wants more than anyone else peace, fraternisation and economic development to prevail.

    He also stressed the need for an end to the genocide and pointed out that the Balkans can be reconstructed, adding that himself came to Thessaloniki to contribute to the drawing up of the programs for the reconstruction of the new Balkans in the new millennium.

    Referring to the dramatic consequences of the war in Yugoslavia he said that Albania took over 400.000 refugees in a period of four weeks and its population increased by 15%. He said that Albania will be a dignified partner and a honest friend and pointed out that in the trade transactions with the neighbouring states Greece has the second place, Turkey the fourth and FYROM the sixth.

    On the economic situation of the country, he referred to the implications of the so-called "pyramid scheme" crisis saying that in 1997 the GDP decreased by 8%, inflation increased by 42% and the national currency was devaluated by 50%. He also said that the government has approved legislation that prevents a repeat of a "pyramid scheme" type scandal.

    Albania today aims at a macro-economic stability and it is determined to proceed with the privatization of the largest bank in the country, the mobile phone and the Telecommunications Organization.

    [08] SIMITIS: THE GOVERNMENT WILL DO EVERYTHING FOR PEACE IN THE REGION

    Prime minister Kostas Simitis pledged from the monastic community in Mount Athos that his government will do everything for peace to prevail in the region. Mr. Simitis is visiting the monastic community together with his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Gutieres.

    The Greek prime minister will give a formal dinner in honor of Mr. Gutieres this evening and tomorrow morning they will have talks in Thessaloniki's Macedonia Palace Hotel followed by a joint press conference. Mr. Simitis will meet tomorrow with prime minister of FYROM Ljupco Geogiefski and Albania's Pandeli Majko.

    [09] THE 6TH INTER-BALKAN FORUM CONTINUES IN THESSALONIKI

    The 6th Inter-Balkan Forum continues in Thessaloniki in the presence of businessmen from Greece and south-eastern Europe as well as representatives of banking institutions from western Europe.

    The forum was formally opened by minister of Macedonia-Thrace Yiannis Magriotis, who stressed that Thessaloniki acquires again the importance and dynamism it had in the beginning of the century. He stressed that the forum is very important for the exchange of views and high level contacts. Referring to the crisis in Kosovo he stressed that Greece can play a role of stability and peace as the only NATO and EU member state in the region that has good relations with all its neighbors.

    Speaking in the conference Association of Industries in Northern Greece chairman Mr. Vasilis Takas suggested the immediate customs union of the south-eastern European countries with the 15 EU member-states within the framework of the economic reconstruction plan for the region on "the day after" the crisis in Kosovo. Mr. Takas also proposed the association of the Euro with the national currencies of the Balkan countries that want this, as an additional measure for the reinforcement of their economies.

    On the stability pact for south-eastern Europe suggested by the German EU presidency, Mr. Takas pointed out that it must have the approval of all parties involved and in any case the approval of the European Union, the United States, the Russian Federation and Yugoslavia. He also expressed the belief that the existing international organizations, such as the UN, NATO, OSCE, EU, etc are in a position to deal with the stability pact and the creation of new institutions for this purpose is not necessary.

    Mr. Takas also pointed out that the countries that will take Kosovo refugees should receive a monthly sum of 40 Euros for each refugee because it is almost certain that the refugees will not be able to return to their homes before at least a year passes after the end of the hostilities.

    Cypriot finance minister Takis Clerides speaking in the forum referred to the satisfactory, as he characterized it, development course of the Cypriot economy, pointing out that its growth rate in 1998 was 5%.

    Right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis will speak this evening in a dinner that will be given within the framework of the Balkan Forum, while tomorrow the main speaker will be prime minister Kostas Simitis.

    [10] APPEALS FOR INVESTMENTS IN THE BALKANS BY THE FYROM FINANCE MINISTER

    FYROM's finance minister Boris Stoymenov speaking in the 6th Inter-Balkan Forum in Thessaloniki issued an appeal to the United States and the rest of the countries to invest in the Balkans. He stressed that FYROM has decided to play a constructive and active role in the settlement of the crisis in Kossovo and that its solution has to do with the development of the wider region.

    Mr. Stoymenov referred to the problems faced by his country as a result of the war in Yugoslavia as the economy of FYROM is dependent on Belgrade. He said that the influx of refugees had negative effects on the economy of FYROM due to the significant cost of the humanitarian aid that has to be offered to them, stressing that this a burden on his country where the jobless are estimated at 284.000. He requested help in order to deal with the problem of the refugees and at the same time, he underlined that if the crisis spreads to FYROM it will easily spread to any other country in the region.

    Greek minister of development Evangelos Venizelos referred to the need for the reconstruction of the region after the war in Yugoslavia, stressing that the pre-conditions to achieve it are the establishment of institutional and political security and adequate funding by different sources. Mr. Venizelos also stressed that the future of the Balkans lies with the EU and backed the accession of the region's countries into the European Union.

    Russian finance ministry international cooperation department director Alexandar Goroholinski pointed out that his country receives 10% of the world investments annually and it aims to attract investments of 70-100 billion dollars by the year 2010. He also stated that legislation is being promoted aimed at attracting more foreign investors.

    [11] REPPAS COMMENTED ON THE NATO BOMBING OF THE CHINESE EMBASSY IN BELGRADE

    Such actions can prolong the crisis and such a development will be tragic, stated Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, commenting on the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Mr. Reppas stated that the bombings with victims unarmed civilians make the return of peace in the region more difficult.

    Referring to the G8 peace proposal, he pointed out that it was a significant step and Greece has called on Yugoslavia to give a positive response and not miss the chance for the solution of the crisis.

    Mr. Reppas backed the foreign policy followed by Greece and accused the right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy of co-signing a European Popular Party text in which FYROM is referred to as Macedonia, while it speaks of a genocide taking place in Yugoslavia instead of ethnic cleansing. Mr. Reppas stated that the policy followed by the government serves the interests of the country and added that Greece will not take part in military operations.

    [12] REPPAS ON SOLANA'S CONFIDENTIAL LETTER

    Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, when asked to comment on the secret NATO document which is published by an Athens newspaper today, said that the Greek government had stated from the beginning that there will be problems of economic and social nature in the region of the Balkans as a result of the war in Yugoslavia.

    According to the newspaper, NATO secretary-general Javier Solana has addressed a confidential letter to the 19 member-states of the alliance in which he speaks of a general destabilisation risk in the Balkans because of the crisis.

    [13] GREECE'S GROWTH RATE WILL EXCEED THE AVERAGE OF THE "15" IN THE PERIOD 1999-2000

    The economic growth in Greece will exceed the average growth rate of the "15" in the period 1999-2000, according to the research department of the magazine "The Economist" (EIU-Economist Intelligence Unit).

    In the research that was presented in Thessaloniki today within the framework of the 6th annual forum of the Association of Industries in Northern Greece, it is pointed out that Greece will most likely keep its appointment with the year 2001 and join the EMU.

    Ms. Merli Baroudi, regional director of the EIU, stated while analysing the results of the research that Greece's course toward the EMU will not be affected by the crisis in Kossovo. Specifically, the war in Yugoslavia will signal the start of a short-term period of risks and a long-term period of opportunities for the Greek economy which will not affect Greece's participation in the Euro-zone.

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [14] GREEK PRESIDENT ON OFFICIAL VISIT TO GEORGIA

    The President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos is presently on a two-day official visit to Georgia, the first by a Greek president to Georgia after the Caucasian republic became independent.

    The President will meet with his Georgian counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze today, as well as with Georgian parliament chairman Zurab Zhvania Foreign Minister Irakly Menangarishvili and Patriarch Ilia II.

    An agreement on developing cooperation between the two countries will be signed today.

    [15] PRESIDENT STEPHANOPOULOS MEETS WITH GEORGIAN COUNTERPART

    The President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos met with his Georgian counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze in Tbilisi this morning, and discussed bilateral ties, as well as Greek- Turkish relations.

    Following a signing ceremony of a number of agreements on developing cooperation between the two countries, the two presidents gave a joint press conference where they both noted that the "especially warm" relations established between Georgia and Greece are called upon to ensure further prosperity of the two countries' peoples.

    Responding to a question posed by the Macedonian Press Agency, President Stephanopoulos stated that while Georgia is a country that is friendly towards Turkey, it is more friendly towards Greece and has no reason to become involved in Greek- Turkish differences.

    "I was given the opportunity to develop our positions, mainly Greece's proposal that (Turkey) approach the International Court of Justice at The Hague as a means of resolving the differences," President Stephanopoulos stated, adding that "in regards to the substance of the differences, Greece is always in favor of the application of international law and accords."

    President Shevardnadze stated that his country's ties with Greece and Turkey are very good.

    "We are a small country," the Georgian President stated, " and we are always looking for friendly countries. We have excellent relations with Greece and very good relations with Turkey."

    President Shevardnadze added that an international force should be found for the resolution of the disagreements, which would regulate the differences.

    Concerning the Black Sea and Trade Development Bank (BSTDB) which will be founded in Thessaloniki, President Stephanopoulos told the MPA that it will start operating in June, and that is was among the topics discussed with his Georgian counterpart.

    The Georgian President expressed his gratitude to Greece for enabling his country to participate in BSTDB as a founding member.

    Messrs. Stephanopoulos and Shevardnadze stated that their discussion confirmed the excellent ties between the two countries, and added that there is a coincidence of views and positions concerning the Kosovo crisis.

    [16] GREEK PRESIDENT INAUGURATES SAE'S HOSPITAL IN GEORGIA

    The President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, presently on a two-day official visit to Georgia, inaugurated the "Hippocrates Hospital" of Tbilisi yesterday, which is one among the ten clinics founded by the Council of Greeks Abroad.

    During the course of the ceremony yesterday, President Stephanopoulos was bestowed the city's key by his Georgian counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze and was named an honorary citizen of Tbilisi.

    Mr. Shevardnadze, who also participated in the event, said the people of Greece and Georgia feel as "brothers", while he noted that both countries will do what is necessary to resolve the differences in the Caucasus region.

    In response, President Stephanopoulos stated that "I don't know if we are brothers, but we are at least first cousins."

    [17] GREEK PRESIDENT TO PAY VISIT TO ARMENIA ON MAY 11-13

    The President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will pay an official visit to Armenia on May 11-13 at the invitation of the republic's leadership.

    Before arriving in Armenia the President will make an official visit to Georgia.

    While in Tbilisi, he will meet Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, the parliament speaker and the foreign minister to discuss further development of cooperation between the two countries and regional issues.

    [18] HELLENIC PETROLEUM DEAL ENDORSED BY FYROM'S GOVERNMENT

    Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) now holds the majority shares in FYROM's OKTA refinery and will go ahead with the construction of an oil pipeline linking Thessaloniki with Skopje, after contracts were signed on Saturday between the government of FYROM and Greece's Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

    Specifically , the agreement calls for ELPE becoming the strategic investor of FYROM's OKTA refinery, with the investment being the largest ever in the neighboring country. ELPE, which is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, will upgrade OKTA's facilities and will construct the 90-million-dollar pipeline, which will have an annual capacity of 2.5 million tons and a length of 220 kilometers. The pipeline is due for completion in three years.

    Mr. Venizelos stated that the agreement has opened new horizons for political and economic ties between the two countries.

    [19] NIS BOMBARDED BY NATO DURING THE COURSE OF THE NIGHT

    Nato warplanes bombed Nis, Yugoslavia's third largest city, throughout last night, targeting an industrial area, the airport and the central post office.

    This was the first time the wails of sirens didn't sound in Belgrade, as the capital city was not targeted. Meanwhile, the International Court of Justice at The Hague is to hold a hearing today on the request filed by Yugoslavia calling for the end of the bombings and asking for damages from ten NATO member-states.

    [20] NATO SLAMS BELGRADE COURT ACTION AS "FRIVOLOUS & CYNICAL"

    The case brought before the International Court of Justice at The Hague by Yugoslavia against 10 NATO member-states over the Alliance's bombings, has been condemned by NATO as "frivolous and cynical".

    According to the French news agency AFP, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said that "it is like Saddam Hussein suing for damages after Operation Desert Storm," referring to the Gulf War allied campaign against Iraq.

    The Hague legal move "is a frivolous and cynical attempt to deflect responsibility for the campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo," Mr. Shea told reporters in Brussels.

    Belgrade's legal action, has asked the ICJ to adjudge 10 states "for violation of the obligation not to use force against another state", and "order that the use of force cease immediately".

    According to AFP, preliminary hearings will most likely last two days, with the accusations against each of the 10 NATO states being examined separately and in alphabetical order.

    [21] CLINTON SENDS LETTER OF APOLOGY TO CHINESE CHAIRMAN

    U.S. President Bill Clinton has sent a letter to Chinese Chairman Jiang Zemin, offering an apology and expressing condolences in connection with the NATO aircraft's bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

    The U.S. president noted that the embassy had been attacked by accident and the tragic incident occurred by mistake.

    At the same time, Mr. Clinton expressed concern over the mass protest demonstrations held outside the U.S. embassy in Beijing and the consulates in Chinese cities. He called on Chinese leaders to insure safety of U.S. diplomats and all other Americans in China.

    [22] CHINA TO INVESTIGATE AIR BOMBING OF ITS BELGRADE EMBASSY

    A group of Chinese government experts are traveling in Belgrade from Beijing in order to investigate the reasons behind NATO's air attack on the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia.

    According to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass, the group includes high-ranking officials of the cabinet, the Chinese Foreign Ministry and other leading departments of the country.

    [23] CHERNOMYRDIN TRAVELS TO BEIJING TODAY

    Russia's envoy on Kosovo Viktor Chernomyrdin is traveling to Beijing today, where he will hold talks with Chinese leaders, according to the Russian News Agency ITAR-TASS.

    The visit is to take place amid mass protests in China over NATO's bombing of Beijing's embassy in Belgrade.

    [24] RUGOVA FAVORS THE DISARMING OF THE KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY

    Moderate Kosovar-Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova told Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin Saturday that he favored disarming the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and wanted Kosovo to have autonomy within Yugoslavia, the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported yesterday.

    Mr. Chernomyrdin met Mr. Rugova in Bonn after holding talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and new UN Balkans representative Carl Bildt.

    Mr. Rugova is unequivocal on keeping Kosovo within the Yugoslav Federation as an autonomous province, Mr. Chernomyrdin told Russian journalists after the talks, ITAR-TASS reported from Bonn.

    The ethnic Albanian leader also called for the disarming of the KLA separatists who have rejected a peace plan agreed last week between Russia and the main western powers. The KLA has said it will accept nothing short of independence for Kosovo and has charged that Rugova has "no mandate" to negotiate on behalf of the Kosovars.

    The Russian envoy stated that Mr. Rugova supported the deployment in Kosovo of an international peacekeeping force which would enable refugees to return home in safety, ITAR-TASS said.

    [25] HELLENIC-SWEDISH FRIENDSHIP PARLIAMENTARY ASSOCIATION OPENS

    The Parliamentary Association of Hellenic-Swedish Friendship held its first meeting last week at the premises of the Swedish Parliament, where Greece's Foreign Minister George Papandreou presented a salutation to the 95 members.

    The Association was founded two years ago by the Swedish deputy Nikos Papadopoulos, who is of Greek-descent, and with the encouragement of Mr. Papandreou and the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Grigoris Niotis.

    "The founding of this Association constitutes the beginning of a fundamental tie between Sweden and Greece, so that we may create friendly bonds between the two countries' parliaments," Mr. Papadopoulos told the Macedonian Press Agency.

    [26] VICTOR CHERNOMYRDIN WILL VISIT PEKING

    Russian mediator Victor Chernomyrdin travels to Peking today for talks with the Chinese government. The relations between the United States and China continue to be tense and Peking announced the interruption of contacts with the US on the issue of the nuclear weapons as well as the human rights situation.

    Meanwhile, German chancellor Gerhard Schroder requested a detailed inquiry on the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, while he is expected to meet in Bonn this evening with NATO secretary-general Javier Solana to discuss the issue. Mr. Schroder will travel to the Chinese capital tomorrow.

    [27] NATO ATTACKED SERB POSITIONS AT THE BORDERS WITH ALBANIA

    NATO aircraft bombed Serb installations in Kossovo, about 6 kilometers from the Albanian borders, according to eye witnesses at the border crossing of Morina.

    The French news agency AFP reports that four explosions were heard around 2pm, Greek time, while NATO aircraft were flying at a very low altitude.

    Kosovars at the borders maintain that the aircraft bombed a region close to Zur where it is known that Serb armoured tanks are stationed, while according to eye witnesses, the Serb air defense has responded to the attack.

    [28] PART OF THE YUGOSLAV ARMY BEGAN ITS WITHDRAWAL FROM KOSSOVO

    The Yugoslav state news agency Tanjug reported, quoting the army's chief of staff, that the Yugoslav army has begun withdrawing its troops from Kossovo.

    A statement mentions that the activities in Kossovo against the ethnic Albanian rebels of the KLA have ended and the chief of staff has ordered parts of the army and police forces to return from Kossovo, adding that the decision came into force on May 9, at 10pm (2000 GMT).

    NATO declined to comment on the report and according to an alliance official, who requested to remain anonymous, NATO will wait and see.


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