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Antenna: News in English, 99-04-07

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From: Antenna <> - email:


  • [01] Kyprianou-American soldiers
  • [02] Tsochatzopoulos
  • [03] Pristina-Nato bombing

  • [01] Kyprianou-American soldiers

    Spyros Kyprianou, the speaker of the Cypriot parliament says he's close to arranging the release of the three American soldiers captured by the Yugoslav government on March 24th.

    Kyprianou met in Athens Wednesday with Greek Deputy foreign minister Yannos Kranidiotis, before leaving for Belgrade to make the arrangements.

    Spyros Kyprianou, the speaker of the Cypriot parliament, who has close relations with Yugoslav leaders and has backed them against NATO, said there is no final arrangement as yet. I have to meet with Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

    Adding, "but the exchanges so far have been very constructive and the indications are that this mission will succeed. I am confident about it. Releasing the soldiers will help improve the climate, it will satisfy the American people who are very worried about the three captives and will be proof of the Yugoslavian president's commitment to peaceful processes."

    Kyprianou said he wanted to confer Wednesday with Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yannos Kranidiotis, who had met earlier with a Russian envoy and with Yugoslavia's ambassador to Greece, before leaving for Belgrade to make the arrangements.

    Cyprus and Yugoslavia have had good relations over the years.

    Kyprianou developed warm ties with Yugoslav leaders, including Milosevic during his term of office as president of Cyprus from 1978 to 1988.

    The ex-president said his effort to help secure the release of the servicemen is purely a humanitarian one and strictly of his own initiative.

    If the release is secured, he is to bring the three back to Cyprus and hand them over to U.S. officials there.

    Kyprianou who has led rallies denouncing the NATO bombing and accused the US and NATO of double tandards, said the release of the prisoners would be a signal to NATO that Milosevic wants a peaceful resolution to the Kosovo crisis.

    Cypriot Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides hinted Wednesday that Cyprus hoped its role in the release of the three U.S. servicemen could persuade Washington to assume a more active role for a settlement to the Cyprus problem. Their release he said, `will be a politically important development for Cyprus.'

    Turkey invaded the northern part of the island in 1974 and maintains 35,000 troops there.

    Releasing the soldiers ``will help improve the climate, it will satisfy the American people who are very worried about the three captives and will be proof of the Yugoslavian president's commitment to peaceful processes," said Kyprianou.

    [02] Tsochatzopoulos

    The Greek defence minister says the Serbian willingness to negotiate the release of the American soldiers, and Serbia's unilateral Easter ceasefire are positive signs that the conflict can be brought to an end.

    Akis Tsochatzopoulos also says though that Serb president Slobodan Milosevic needs to follow those positive moves up with guarantees that the refugees will be allowed to return to their homes in Kosovo; Tsochatzopoulos says Serbia also needs to agree to pull its forces out of the province. In Nato, however, the Serbian peace overtures have been ignored or downplayed.

    Asked about the possibility of the American servicemen being released, US defence secretary William Cohen said only that he'd heard on the news that there was something in the offings.

    And Nato spokesman Jamie Shea didn't even mention the matter until he was asked about it by reporters.

    That low-key, almost indifferent reaction stands in marked contrast to the prominence American officials gave the issue before the Belgrade offer of a release came.

    It's not the first time Nato has tried to dismiss Yugoslav moves to defuse tensions in Belgrade's relations with the West.

    Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic's meeting with moderate Albanian Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova was similarly given little attention in Western circles.

    Nor has Belgrade's Easter ceasefire been responded to positively by Nato.

    [03] Pristina-Nato bombing

    The residents of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, lived through the worst night of Nato bombing Monday. Antenna's Nicholas Vafiades reports that Nato struck civilian targets - and there were civilian casualties.

    It was the worst night yet in Pristina.

    Vafiades reports that after a first wave of bombing, Nato bombs and planes started coming closer and closer to the centre of the city.

    Explosion followed upon explosion between 1:30 and 2:00 am, lighting up the city, and bringing death.

    At 2:30, Vafiades and his cameraman beheld the flames engulfing the city hall.

    But the real tragedy was revealed at dawn.

    The carnage was everywhere in the centre of Pristina: bombed out buildings, rocks and bricks everywhere; the post office and communications building still smouldering after the attack.

    And behind the post office building, the remains of a working class neighborhood. Corpses were strewn among the rubble of what was once homes and shops.

    One man told Vafiades that a Turkish family of five was buried under the rubble of their home.

    The authorities reported at least ten people - all civilians - dead.

    For the residents of Pristina, every night brings new terror. And there is nothing to stop Nato - Monday night's Nato flyovers were so low that one could only conclude that the Yugoslav air defences are nowhere near capable of making a difference.

    (c) Antenna 1999

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