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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 04/02/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek PM, NATO chief confer on Kovoso
  • Athens wants UN approval for NATO action
  • NATO has 'open door' policy on new members
  • Greece in touch with all Kosovo parties
  • Athens support for demilitarisation force idea
  • Athens concerned over Russian natural gas problems
  • Government supports re-election of president
  • Protests force cancellation of US envoy's visit
  • OA workers strike over government's management search
  • Ex-New Democracy deputy opts to stay independent
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek PM, NATO chief confer on Kovoso

Prime Minister Costas Simitis had talks on Thursday with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana focusing on the Kosovo crisis in view of peace talks scheduled for the weekend at a chateau in Rambouillet outside Paris. The talks, attended by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, also covered preparations for the NATO summit in Washington in April. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Simitis said he had also discussed international developments, NATO's new strategy and structure and confidence building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean.

Athens wants UN approval for NATO action

Any military intervention in Kosovo demands "legally valid procedures" which the Greek side believes will not be secured without the consent of the parties directly involved, Simitis said. Replying to reporters' questions, Simitis reiterated the Greek position that any NATO military intervention in Kosovo would require a mandate from the UN Security Council. He noted however that NATO considered the UN resolutions already adopted provided the requisite legal framework, adding that if this view eventually prevailed, Greece would follow it. Simitis expressed Greece's full support for the Rambouillet talks which are scheduled to begin on Saturday.

NATO has 'open door' policy on new members

Expressing satisfaction at his talks with Simitis, Solana said the international community had undertaken peace initiatives to find a diplomatic solution to the Kosovo problem and the Rambouillet talks had NATO's backing. On other issues covered in today's talks, Solana referred in particular to NATO's "open door" policy, underlining that NATO would remain an open organisation ready to accept new members. The NATO chief said the recent decision by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides not to deploy Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles on the divided island contributed to efforts on CBMs.

Greece in touch with all Kosovo parties

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later that the Greek government was in constant contact with all the interested parties in the Kosovo crisis. He was responding to a question on whether Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos had sent a letter to both the Serbian and Albanian sides urging them to contribute to finding a solution at the Rambouillet talks. Reppas reiterated that Athens desired autonomy for the region in the framework of Yugoslavia and expressed the hope that the talks in France would lead to a result.

Athens support for demilitarisation force idea

Athens voiced support on Thursday for a Cypriot proposal that a new international force be stationed on Cyprus to oversee the gradual demilitarisation of the island. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the proposal for the force, to be under UN auspices, was "very good, provided the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish sides agree, which to date they haven't." "The Greek government is in full agreement with the policy being followed by the Cypriot government for demilitarisation of the island," Reppas said. According to a Cypriot News Agency dispatch, Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides outlined the proposal to Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos during their meeting in Athens on Wednesday evening.

Athens concerned over Russian natural gas problems

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou met with the Russian charge d'affaires on Thursday morning to discuss continuing problems in natural gas deliveries from Russia via Bulgaria to Greece. Papandreou handed the Russian official a letter to pass on to Russian Energy Minister Andrei Generalov in which she stressed the problems were continuing despite assurances from Russia in November that they would be resolved. The ministry said Papandreou was planning to visit Moscow soon to tackle the issue. The glitches have already affected the operation of industries in Greece as well as power plants in Keratsini and Lavrion. Should deliveries drop further the Keratsini and Lavrion plants will have to resort to oil.

Government supports re-election of president

The government said on Thursday that the re-election of President Kostis Stephanopoulos would be "very useful and beneficial" for Greece. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the statement when asked by reporters whether a proposal in support of another term in office for Stephanopoulos would be broadly accepted and help avert early general elections Simitis said during an interview with the private "Mega" television channel on Wednesday night that Stephanopoulos was a very able and competent president. Stephanopoulos was elected president by parliament in March, 1995.

Protests force cancellation of US envoy's visit

Students protesting outside the Macedonia University in Thessaloniki forced US Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns to cancel a scheduled visit on Thursday. An official announcement by the US Consulate in the northern port city said the ambassador's visit to the university had been cancelled owing to "a change in the schedule of Mr. Burns' visit" to Thessaloniki which began yesterday. A students' union resolution condemning US policy on the Cyprus problem described Burns as an "undesirable" visitor. Inside the university, students had suspended a banner with anti-American slogans and phrases in favour of a "Free Cyprus".

OA workers strike over government's management search

The Federation of Civil Aviation Associations (OSPA) on Wednesday called a three-hour work stoppage at 12 noon next Friday to protest the government's intention to hire a manager for Olympic Airways. The national economy ministry announced an international tender for a manager for the ailing national carrier on Sunday. According to sources, British Airways, Lufthansa and a US operator have already expressed interest in taking over management. OSPA said it would meet in the lead up to Friday's work stoppage to determine further protest action.

Ex-New Democracy deputy opts to stay independent

A main opposition New Democracy deputy suspended for failing to toe the party line against a government bill changing relations between workers and management at state-run public utilities said on Thursday he would not return to the party. Nikos Kakalos, whose one-year suspension from the party ended today, said he would return to the party's parliamentary fold only if three leading ND members expelled from the party were called back. Leading ND members and former Mitsotakis government ministers George Souflias, Stephanos Manos and Vassilis Kontoyiannopoulos were expelled from the party over their stance. The three expulsions and three suspensions were widely seen as a purge of the 'old guard' by Karamanlis, who had won a hotly-contested battle for leadership of the party several months earlier.

WEATHER

Scattered rain in most parts of Greece today with light snowfall in the mountainous regions. Winds northerly, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny with possible light rain in the evening and temperatures from 3-11C. Sleet and light snowfall in Thessaloniki with temperatures from -3C to 4C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 280.686 Pound sterling 459.415 Japanese yen (100) 250.123 French franc 48.546 German mark 162.817 Italian lira (100) 16.446 Irish Punt 404.338 Belgian franc 7.894 Finnish mark 53.558 Dutch guilder 144.503 Danish kr. 42.815 Austrian sch. 23.142 Spanish peseta 1.914 Swedish kr. 35.674 Norwegian kr. 36.900 Swiss franc 199.258 Port. Escudo 1.588 Aus. dollar 180.460 Can. dollar 185.663 Cyprus pound 548.576

(M.P.)


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