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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-05

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 05/03/1997 (ANA)


  • Greece calls for national unity gov`t in Albania
  • Premier Simitis talks to Berisha
  • Papandreou meets EU, US and Russian ambassadors
  • Greece, FYROM making progress in relations
  • Albright-Pangalos meet tomorrow in Washington
  • Five Iraqi patients to be treated in Athens


    Greece calls for national unity gov't in Albania

    Greece yesterday called for the formation of a national unity government in Albania with the participation of all that country's political forces in a bid to find a solution to the severe crisis in the neighbouring country.

    Expressing concern over recent developments in Albania, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Athens is making serious efforts to aid in a solution to the violence and political instability sweeping the southern part of that nation.

    "This crisis is both political and social, therefore, a political solution is required with the participation of all political forces through dialogue, " Mr. Reppas said.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis had an urgent meeting last night with main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert at the latter's request, while earlier in the day the premier presided over a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign and Defence Affairs (KYSEA), which focused on the situation in Albania.

    Foreign Undersecratary Yiannos Kranidiotis held a meeting with Albania's ambassador to Athens, and handed him a demarche requesting protection for the ethnic Greek minority in that country.

    Foreign Alternate Minister George Papandreou held separate meetings with the ambassadors of Greece's EU partners as well as with the US and Russian ambassadors.

    Spokesman Reppas said that the government was concerned about the fate of the imprisoned Albanian Socialist party leader Fatos Nano, adding that Greece's ruling PASOK party has raised the issue of his release.

    Stressing that Athens wished an end to the crisis as soon as possible through democratic procedures, Mr. Reppas called on both Tirana and the ethnic Greek minority in Albania's south to remain calm and cool-headed.

    "The government's wish is that members of the Greek minority as well as Greek businessmen active in Albania remain there and help the neighbouring country," Mr. Reppas stressed.

    Expressing fear that humanitarian aid to Albania may be looted he requested from Albanian authorities to propose ways in which to ensure that humanitarian aid arriving from Greece will reach its destination.

    Mr. Reppas said that the European Union had responded to Greek proposals concerning the situation in Albania and that it was decided to discuss the issue at the next informal General Affairs Council meeting on March 15-16 in the Netherlands.

    He added that Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van Mierlo would tour Athens, Rome and Tirana, beginning on Thursday. During his stop in Greece, Mr. van Mierlo will have talks with Mr. Simitis.

    Simitis talks to Berisha

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis spoke with Albanian President Sali Berisha on the phone late last night, reiterating Athens' concern for the safety and property of the ethnic Greek community in the neighbouring country.

    The Greek premier stressed how important the minority issue is for Athens' relations with Tirana.

    According to govenment sources, Mr. Simitis underlined to Mr. Berisha the need for a political solution to the crisis, calling for an Albanian government initiative for dialogue with opposition parties. He also expressed Greece's support for the Albanian people.

    Papandreou meets ambassadors

    In his separate meetings with the ambassadors of the United States, Russia and EU members-states to Athens, Mr. Papandreou stressed to his interlocutors that political forces in Albania should enter into dialogue in order to work out a mutually acceptable solution to the crisis.

    Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis also participated in the meetings.

    This solution, Mr. Papandreou said, should be supported by economic measures backed by the European Union through international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund.

    Mr. Papandreou said he had presented to the ambassadors Athens' positions on the recent developments, including the proposal for a meeting in Athens of EU member-states' representatives and the foreign ministers of the United States, Russia and the Balkan countries.

    Referring to his meeting with US ambassador to Athens, Thomas Niles, Mr. Papandreou said they agreed that both countries should contribute to Albania's "normal overcoming of the crisis."

    Mr. Papandreou said the issue of the ethnic Greek minority was also raised in the meeting with Mr. Niles.

    "The ethnic Greek minority has not been entangled in the developments," Mr. Papandreou said, expressing hope that it will stay out of the crisis.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Niles said the issue of the deployment of a multinational force to Albania was not raised in the meeting.

    Russia's ambassador to Athens Valery Nikolayenko said he would convey Greece's initiatives to his government.

    Replying to a question on the fate of the leader of the Albanian opposition Socialist Party leader, Fatos Nano, Mr. Reppas said that according to the government's information, he was being held at police station 313 in Tirana.

    He added that the issue was of concern to both the government and the ruling PASOK party which had appealed for Mr. Nano's release.

    Strife continues

    Meanwhile, villages in southern Albania populated mainly by ethnic Greeks were under fire from armed gangs during the night, reports stated.

    No newspapers were published in Tirana yesterday, as censorship has become extremely tight and the issuance of the special printing licences required is being deliberately delayed.

    State television reported that 20 people had been arrested in army and police raids and many weapons confiscated, although no details were given.

    There were frequent blackouts Monday night in Tirana itself, while hundreds of armed, uniformed police patrolled the streets searching vehicles, even those with diplomatic plates. Road blocks have sprung up both inside the city and on roads leading into it.

    Greece, FYROM making progress in relations

    Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are "slowly, but surely" bridging the gap in their relations, according to the head of the neighbouring state's liaison office in Athens, Ljupko Arsovski.

    Speaking to the state-run radio in Skopje, Mr. Arsovski said that 18 months after the signing between the two countries of an interim accord in New York it was obvious that communication between people, trade and ideas had developed.

    Trade between the two countries, he emphasised, surpassed the US$130 million mark in 1996. He added that high-level meetings between officials of the two countries were due to be held this year, including the Thessaloniki-based fourth Balkan conference entitled "Greece and the Balkans", which is scheduled for this month, as well as a meeting of finance ministers in Athens, also in March.

    Albright-Pangalos to meet Thursday

    US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns announced late last night that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos will meet here tomorrow morning.

    "The secretary looks forward to her meeting with Mr Pangalos on Thursday. They will discuss a broad range of bilateral and regional issues with an emphasis on the Aegean and Cyprus," Mr. Burns said.

    Mr. Pangalos is currently in the United States to attend the inauguration of the "Glory of Byzantium" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

    Speaking on current events in Albania, Mr. Burns said "we are sorry that the Albanian authorities are using the situation to shut down the Albanian media and the Voice of America".

    "We feel that this speedy recourse to (presidential) elections by the parliament and the government was not the correct move because it did not give the opposition a just opportunity to contest the elections.

    " Our advice would have been to bring back democracy and the democratic rights of the opposition. ..No-one wants there to be an exodus (of refugees) either towards Italy or towards Greece. But we must be prepared for every eventuallity," Mr. Burns said.

    Venizelos attends inauguration of 'Glory of Byzantium'

    The exhibition "The Glory of Byzantium" opened Monday night at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in the presence of Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos. Earlier in the day, Mr. Venizelos met with Archbishop of America Spyridon and discussed the major contribution made by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the exhibition.

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos is to visit the United States shortly. The culture minister also discussed ways to broaden contacts between the ministry, the Archdiocese and the Greek community as well as ways to pass on Greek cultural traditions to the younger generation of the diaspora. Mr. Venizelos also referred to one of the ministry's chief goals, which was to support Greek studies at all foreign universities.

    Simitis sends message to expatriate Greeks on Internet

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday sent a message to expatriate Greeks around the world through the foreign ministry's electronic page on the Internet computer web.

    "This page allows for direct communication, which ensures for the timely and credible briefing on developments in Greece and in the overseas Greek communities globally," his message read.

    Turning to other issues, he noted that both Greece and Cyprus are called upon to play a leading and pioneering role, since they are located on the crossroads of three continents - in the region of the southeast Mediterranean and in the neighbourhood of the Balkans.

    "We are on the threshold of the year 2000, and we are aware of the fact that Greece has never before been confronted with such great challenges and opportunities, which we must face...decisively," he noted.

    The premier said the government's aim in the following four years is to place Greece "in a secure orbit of the welfare, development and progress, since this is the best answer to unacceptable disputes and violations of the rules of the inter national law from Turkish provocativeness."

    Five Iraqi patients to be treated in Athens

    Five Iraqi children will be hospitalised in Athens tomorrow following an initiative by the international "Doctors of the World" humanitarian organisation.

    The Greek department of the organisation has been in Iraq since the end of January within the framework of the "Chain of Hope" programme, designed to counter the effects on health care of an international trade blockade on Iraq, which has drained that country's reserves.

    Greek physicians have undertaken the transportation and hospitalisation of the five young patients who are facing health problems reportedly not easily treated in their country.

    Kavala pupil chosen to participate in EU project

    A 16-year-old pupil of a Kavala school has been chosen through a European Union project to represent Greece in a European students' council meeting, to be held in the Europarliament in Strasbourg.

    Victoria Zyridou won first prize in her category when her school participated in a students' council organised each year by the EU, in which pupils from 25 countries took part.

    Her presentation in Strasbourg will be entitled "Open Borders - Triumph or Tragedy?" and will include a videotape presentation depicting scenes of Greek cultural heritage from archaeological sites.


    Fine weather withg sunshine in most parts of Greece with a few local clouds over the eastern and southern regions of the country and some strong winds in the Aegean Sea later in the day. Athens and Thessaloniki will be mostly sunny with some local cloudiness and temperatures between 7-17C in the former and 4-15C in the latter.


    Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 265.648 Pound sterling 429.298 Cyprus pd 520.800 French franc 46.072 Swiss franc 179.130 German mark 155.471 Italian lira (100) 15.582 Yen (100) 218.091 Canadian dlr. 193.876 Australian dlr. 209.679 Irish Punt 416.342 Belgian franc 7.535 Finnish mark 51.971 Dutch guilder 138.210 Danish kr. 40.751 Swedish kr. 34.873 Norwegian kr. 38.371 Austrian sch. 22.085 Spanish peseta 1.834 Portuguese escudo 1.549


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