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Antenna: News in English, 99-03-30

Antenna News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Antenna <> - email:


  • [01] Pristina
  • [02] Refugees
  • [03] Karamanlis

  • [01] Pristina

    The city of Pristina in Kosovo has come under heavy bombardement over the past couple of days. The result has been a mass exodus of residents, fleeing in search of safety from the bombs and strife.

    Antenna's Nicholas Vafiades is in Kosovo's provincial capital.

    He reported numerous explosions on the outskirts of Pristina Tuesday - apparently not from Nato bombs, but from battles between the Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbian forces. Vafiades also reported that gunshots could be heard in the capital in the afternoon.

    Dozens of buildings have been levelled or burnt out in the bombing: Vafiades has sent out pictures of hospitals and refuges that lie in ruins.

    With Pristina a key target of Nato missiles, and strife between the KLA and the federal forces becoming worse, residents have good reason to flee.

    On Tuesday afternoon there was a steady stream of people leaving the city by car and truck, heading to Montenegro, Albania, or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    [02] Refugees

    The stream of refugees out of the war zone has Greece and the rest of the European Union concerned. Western European nations are sending aid to Albania and Fyrom to help local authorities care for the refugees.

    Greece's development minister, Vaso Papandreou, the foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou and other top cabinet officials, among them the health minister, met Tuesday to discuss Greece's aid strategy.

    Greece is sending 8.2 billion dollars in humanitarian aid to Albania, Serbia, and Fyrom. Most of it will go to Fyrom - blankets, tents, and whatever else the local authorities need to provide for the refugees.

    Fyrom officials are concerned that they will be overwhelmed. The tiny country says it can take in 20 thousand refugees in all - that quota is expected to be filled in a few days.

    Papandreou says the goal of Greece's aid - like that from other EU countries - is to help the refugees stay close to their homes and property in Kosovo.

    The refugee problem is a concern because it is considered to be a potentially destabilising time bomb in the Balkans, a tapestry of minorities.

    In Okriva, Fyrom, the police intervened Monday to prevent simultaneous marches by ethnic- Albanians and ethnic-Serbs from meeting up, and perhaps ending in violence.

    The presence of Nato forces in Fyrom is also a problem for the authorities. Already, the Serbian Democratic Party leader has started circulating a petition calling for Nato to quit the country and for a condemnation of the Nato bombing in neighboring Yugoslavia.

    [03] Karamanlis

    The Greek parliament is set to discuss the Kosovo crisis and its implications and consequences Wednesday.

    The government says it's not worried that Greece will be dragged into the conflict. But what Vaso Papandreou calls a tragedy for the Balkans is of great concern.

    The leader of New Democracy leader also says there's no chance of direct Greek involvement in the conflict at this time.

    Speaking to Giannis Pretenteris on Antenna's "Moment of Truth", Kostas Karamanlis was critical of what he believes is a counter-productive Nato military campaign.

    "The aim of winning greater respect for human rights", he said, "is something we all agree with".

    But the bombing, he added, is further destabilising the wider region.

    Karamanlis's proposal for a peaceful solution is for a non-Nato peace force to be sent into Kosovo to police a treaty that grants Kosovo broad autonomy, but with the Nato stipulation that a referendum on independence be held in three years to be struck out.

    (c) Antenna 1999

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