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Antenna: News in English (AM), 98-09-15

Antenna News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Antenna Radio <> - email:

Last Updated: Tuesday, 15-Sep-98 08:56:52


  • [01] Albania
  • [02] Tsohatzopoulos-missiles delivery
  • [03] Mitsotakis
  • [04] Athens stock exchange

  • [01] Albania

    Rebellion in the Albanian capital has placed a question mark over the survival of that country's socialist government.

    There was gunfire and tanks on the streets of Tirana Monday as supporters of the Democratic Party took to the streets, protesting the murder of a leading party member Azem Hadjari.

    The Democratic Party fell from power in elections last year, after months of upheaval sparked by a banking pyramid scandal.

    A day of insurrection started as protesters carried the bodies of Azem Hadjari and his bodyguard - slain Sunday - to Nano's office.

    Supporters of Sali Berisha's Democratic Party raided the office of socialist prime minister Fatos Nano Monday - the office went up in flames.

    After Hadjari's funeral, the uprising continued one demonstrator was reportedly shot dead by government forces, and a policeman was wounded.

    There was gunfire heard throughout the day and three tanks on the streets of the capital to maintain order were quickly seized by protesters.

    Domestic and international observers feared a return to chaos just over a year after national elections removed the discredited Democratic Party from office.

    The European Union and other members of the international community have voiced their support for the Nano government.

    Nato secretary general Javier Solana called for self-restraint.

    Blaming the Nano government for Hadjari's death, Berisha called for his immediate resignation and national elections.

    "It is the worst political assassination in our history. The Democratic Party has proff it's a criminal act of the government....The symbol of anti- communist Albanian movement was killed by the police of Nano".

    During Monday's rebellion, government opponents seized the state television, the parliament, and other key points in Tirana.

    The government spokesman said that a coup attempt was underway - he wouldn't say by whom.

    But foreign Minister Paskal Milo blamed Berisha for the unrest.

    There were rumours that Nano was prepared to resign and call for the formation of a national unity government, if that would restore calm to the country. But those rumours were denied.

    And Milo gave no indication the government is withering. He accused Berisha of trying to return to power through a coup and says his efforts are in vain.

    By nightfall, calm appeared to reign over Tirana, and the police seemed to be in control of the city.

    For the Greek minority in southern Albania, Monday's upheaval sounded a familiar alarm.

    Thousands of people, of both Greek and Albanian descent, gathered their families and their belongings and headed for the Greek border at Kakavia.

    There was a long line at the border post in Kakavia, as panic-stricken ordinary people sought refuge and safety in the south.

    Ethnic Greeks said they're afraid.

    One woman said that in her village they heard shots and people were out in the streets with guns.

    Despite the fear of danger ahead, many ethnic Greeks are braving out what could be a new storm.

    Orthodox archbishop of Albania Anastasios was in the Greek minority villages Monday, a holy day. He said the liturgy before the faithful.

    And he made an appeal: if those who love Albania don't intervene soon, he said, then the crisis could spread throughout the country. He warns that there's a difference between this year's troubles and last year's. This time around, everyone's armed.

    In Athens, Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis lamented the situation in Albania.

    "What's been gained over the past year in terms of better security, a stable state, and an improved economy shouldn't be lost", he said. "Albania has lagged far behind. Any new showdown could only cause damage to the country".

    New Democracy is calling on the government to ask the EU to convene a meeting of its foreign ministers to assess the situation and do what's necessary to maintain stability in the region.

    There are 280 Greek peacekeepers in Albania, stationed at a base just three miles outside Tirana. The soldiers, part of the international force installed in Albania at the end of last year's troulbes, have been ordered to return fire if the base is attacked.

    But the hope of the Greek troops, like the hope of the ethnic Greek minority, is that any gunfire will soon be a thing of the past.

    [02] Tsohatzopoulos-missiles delivery

    Greece has taken delivery of forty advanced American-made surface-to- surface missiles.

    The defence ministry will be adding a further 30 Atakam missiles to that number.

    The total cost is 14 billion dollars.

    40 long-range Atakams arrived at an air base outside Thessaloniki Monday morning.

    The missiles can reach targets up to a hundred miles away with just a one yard margin of error.

    Defence minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos said that artillery is a vital part of the country's defence, which is why it's being modernised and expanded.

    "Our armed forces", he added, "are the guarantee of stability in the region, a bulwark of peace, cooperation, and respect for the sovereign rights of the nations of the area".

    The Atakan's first test firing in New Mexico last month was a success, and the weapon is considered to be at the fore of the new generation of missiles.

    [03] Mitsotakis

    A week after the prime minister said he would steadfastly continue on the same tight economic course and lead Greece into Europe's single currency, the leader of New Democracy assailed Pasok's economic track record.

    Speaking at the Thessaloniki Trade Fair, Kostas Karamanlis said the government lacks the courage to make the economic policy changes the country needs.

    New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis said the Pasok government gets low marks when it comes to bringing about badly neede structural economic reforms.

    Calling the government weak, he chided it for what he calls its tax forays, social injustice, and persistent wasteful spending. He also said the state is breaking down, and accused the government of appeasing Turkey.

    "Kostas Simitis is the most distant prime minister Greece has ever had", said Karamanlis. "He's detached from reality, a stranger to the problems of the people".

    The remedy, said the New Democracy leader, is large scale privatisation of the banks, Olympic Airways, and urban transport; cuts in spending and cuts in income and property tax; and taking steps to reduce unemployment rate, which is ten per cent and growing.

    "We believe Greece can enter the single European currency", added the main opposition leader. "But it will require greater efforts - different economic priorities and a different role for the state".

    Responding to Karamanlis, finance minister Yiannos Papantoniou countered that the New Democracy leader's proposals would mean higher state deficits. That, said Papantoniou, shows how irresponsible New Democracy is.

    Observers say Karamanlis's speech was designed to quell criticism from within his own ranks. If that's so, it appears to have paid off.

    Two former New Democracy leaders gave their full backing to Karamanlis's economic programme.

    Former prime minister Constantinos Mitsotakis riled feathers when he said recently that he doens't think there's anyone in parliament today fit to be prime minister.

    After Karamanlis's speech, though, he praised the current party leader.

    Mitsotakis said he agrees fully with Karamanlis's views on the economy. He added, "I've been expressing the same views for some time".

    Politicians close to Miltiades Evert said Karamanlis's speech was similar to one Evert had made at the trade fair a few years ago, when he, Evert, was at the party helm.

    [04] Athens stock exchange

    The Athens stock exchange started the week fast. The Athens bourse followed major world markets in climbing in Monday trading.

    The Athens index was three per cent higher at closing than it was after Friday's session.

    Today's follows on the heels of losses Friday, though the market gained three per cent overall last week.

    (c) ANT1 Radio 1998

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