Mortar bomb explosion
NEWS IN DETAIL
New Albanian gov't, insurgents request peacekeeping force, Kranidiotis says
After eight-hours of talks with new Albanian Prime Minister Bakshim Fino
and committees of rebel forces aboard an Italian frigate in the Adriatic
yesterday, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis, who accompanied OS
CE envoy Franz Vranitsky, said the situation in Albania was especially
serious and called on Europe to assume is responsibilities.
"Today's meeting was very useful. We met with Mr. Fino, the foreign
minister, and the chief of the Albanian army. They conveyed the request for
the immediate formation of an international peace force that will restore
order. The same request was made by the delegates of the 15 (insurgents)
committees, which stated that they support the new government, while
insisting on the resignation of (Albanian President Sali) Berisha and
compensation for the money (Albanian citizens) lost," he said, referring to
the failed pyramid schemes that sparked the crisis.
"These delegates held a unanimous stand and claimed that they represented
all the rebel forces. They stressed that this is not a civil war, it is not
a north-south confrontation, but an outburst caused by lack of democracy
and the economic problems," he added.
Replying to a questions, Mr. Kranidiotis said it was not clear whether it
would be the OSCE or the UN that would form the multinational force, and
that would have to be discussed with European partners.
Defence leadership considers situation
Greek military chiefs yesterday participated in successive meetings at the
defence ministry focusing the deteriorating situation in Albania.
Reports said emergency measures had been implemented on the Greek-Albanian
frontier and that a regiment was ready to participate in a multinational
force that would head to the neighbouring nation if necessary.
With regard to a possible multinational peacekeeping force for Albania,
government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Athens would participate only if
an official written request were made on behalf of all political forces in
Albania, with a specific legal framework and under the auspices and control
of an international organisation. Nevertheless, he emphasised that the
necessary conditions for such an undertaking did not yet exist.
Mr. Reppas added that Greece had made preparations to receive refugees from
Albania in line with a request from the United Nations High Commission for
Refugees, a request also been made to Italy.
WEU, political leadership
Meanwhile, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Western
European Union (WEU), Luis Maria de Puig, yesterday said he hoped Albania's
problems could be solved through peaceful means, but added that if the
situation deteriorated further Europe would consider intervening.
"It would be really hopeful if the problem in Albania could be settled
through peaceful means. But if the situation worsens, then Europe can not
remain silent without resorting to action, (but) would consider whether
there was need to intervene," Mr. de Puig told reporters after a meeting
with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.
Mr. de Puig later discussed the Albanian crisis with Prime Minister Costas
Simitis and main opposition leader Miltiades Evert.
The second operation by Greek armed forces to evacuate foreign citizens
from Albania ended successfully early on Saturday afternoon.
By 1:35 p.m., 250 people, mainly Chinese, Jordanian and Egyptian nationals,
had boarded the "Kavaloudis" missile boat. They headed for Corfu on board
the frigate "Aegaio", which had been moored in the port of Durres.
Yesterday, 50 Greek and foreign nationals were evacuated from the Albanian
port of Durres yesterday by a Hellenic Navy missile boat, which arrived in
Corfu at around 7 p.m.
In Athens, the Greek Red Cross launched a mass appeal for food and medical
aid for Albania.
Meanwhile, a mortar shell fired from Albanian territory exploded yesterday
a short distance from the border post of Krystallopigi, Florina. Greek
customs officials and police estimate the shell was fired from a distance
of three kilometres, probably fro m the nearby Albanian village of
The customs post on the Albanian side was abandoned by its staff on
General Army Staff sources said today that the mortar shell explosion was a
The sources said the shell, fired from a Chinese or Russian-made 82 mm
mortar was accidentally fired from a distance of between 2800 and 3200
metres, from an army camp east of the village of Kapsista.
According to the same sources, the shell was fired by mistake by a group of
armed Albanians who were inspecting the mortar in the army camp.
New Tirana gov't
The new Albanian government under new Prime Minister Bashkim Fino yesterday
received a vote of confidence in Parliament.
Afterwards, Mr. Fino verified that in his meeting with OSCE mediator Franz
Vranitzky, the Albanian government requested the dispatch of a peacekeeping
force, while he called his talks with Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos
Kranidiotis very positive, noting that he is counting on aid and cooperation
The new Albanian prime minister said that there are no "winners or losers,
only losers" from the crisis, promising justice and objectivity in the
operation of the secret services and state television.
Simitis, Italy's D'Alema speak on 'challenges of the Left'
Prime Minister and PASOK leader Costas Simitis along with the national
secretary of Italy's Democratic Left Party Massimo D'Alema were the two
main speakers at an event yesterday in Athens entitled "The Left Before the
Challenges of Europe Tomorrow".
Both leaders agreed in their assessments that the main issue today is none
other than the problems created by the globalisation of the economy and the
need to provide answers for them. Both said that only the modern left can
provide these answers.
More understanding for Greek positions after briefing of EU on Imia, Simitis notes
There is much more understanding for Greece's positions after Athens
launched a diplomatic campaign to inform European Union member-states on
Greek-Turkish relations following the Imia incident, Prime Minister Costas
Simitis told Parliament yesterday.
Regarding a recent "Wall Street Journal" article referring to a briefing of
US correspondents in Ankara by Turkish military leaders, which reported the
disputing of "scores" of Aegean islands by Turkey's military leadership as
far as Crete, the premier said:
"The Greek government has considerable information confirming that the
Turkish side raises issues and makes claims.
"The Greek government's answer is not based on other maps or evidence. It
is based on specific facts which are real and of which the Greek government
has knowledge," Mr. Simitis said.
Athens reacted strongly to reports that Turkish military leaders were
disputing a series of Greek islands, saying that such claims were "too wild
for words and ludicrous."
However, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos noted that the matter was
important because Greece had always believed that the real power in Turkey
was yielded by the military.
G. Papandreou talks with Spanish counterpart de Neguel cover several issues
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday held five-hour talks
in Madrid with his Spanish counterpart Ramon de Neguel on issues related to
developments in Albania, relations between the European Union and Turkey,
the Cyprus issue and various EU-related issues.
On the question of Albania, the two sides agreed to the need for a
political solution to be sought with the participation of all the sides
Mr. Papandreou underlined the special problems created for Greece by the
present situation prevailing in Albania. He reiterated Athens' proposal for
immediate aid in foodstuffs in the country together with economic support.
He also repeated Greece's standing position on the Cyprus issue, while the
Spanish side showed understanding.
Referring to relations between the EU and Turkey, Mr. Papandreou said there
is no objection to Turkey's European orientation, however, he reiterated
that certain preconditions should be met, namely, resolution of the Cyprus
issue, Turkey's stance on the