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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-04-29

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, 29/04/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • U.S. concerned about hotel bombing
  • FM Papandreou meets with Annan in Moscow
  • Former PM slams anti-American statements
  • NATO convoy winds up in vegetable market
  • EMU entry likely but still not a given - banker
  • Former minister sets up new party
  • Shipowner donates 500 million dr. for refugees
  • Former Yugoslav royal wants to return to Belgrade
  • Kosovo crisis will have impact on tourism
  • Crew safe after freighter fire
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

U.S. concerned about hotel bombing

The government said on Thursday that US Ambassador Nicholas Burns had expressed Washington's concern following the bomb attack against the Athens Intercontinental hotel and threats which the envoy said had been made against the US embassy and the consulate in Thessaloniki. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas confirmed press reports that Burns expressed his government's concern during a meeting on Wednesday with Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis. One woman died and a man was injured in the bomb attack shortly before midnight on Tuesday. Responsibility was claimed by the "Revolutionary Cells" group which said the attack was in protest against the US-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Reppas said Burns was summoned by the Foreign Ministry general secretary on Wednesday afternoon and handed a protest concerning the possibililty of the State Department realizing its threat to issue a travel advisory against Greece. "The Greek side made it clear that this would not be a friendly act and gesture, but on the contrary would worsen the climate in Greek-US relations, which must be avoided," Reppas said. "We hope that the State Department will not proceed to such an escalation of its actions."

FM Papandreou meets with Annan in Moscow

Greece today asked the United Nations to supply Kosovar refugees with UN identification documents to facilitate their repatriation to the war- stricken Yugoslav province of Kosovo, an ANA dispatch said from Moscow, quoting well-informed sources. The proposal was made Moscow by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou during talks with UN secretary general Kofi Annan in Moscow. Papandreou said the proposal, which he also presented last night to his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov, would facilitate the repatriation of the refugees -- whose identification papers had been taken away from them by the Yugoslav authorities -- in Kosovo, which was a "key point in the consultations" currently taking place for a solution to the crisis, the sources added.

Former PM slams anti-American statements

Former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis on Thursday castigated a local official on the island of Crete for statements directed against the U.S., saying they were not shared by people on the island. "The statement from the Hania prefect against the presence of Americans and of the U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns in Crete is unacceptable and not representative of the feelings of the people of the island," Mitsotakis, who comes from Crete, said. He said the Cretans had a long history of hospitality and of respect for foreign visitors. Although the Cretans are overwhelmingly against NATO's policies and bombing of Yugoslavia, there was a great distance between that feeling and the unacceptable threats and anti- American sentiments, he said.

NATO convoy winds up in vegetable market

Part of a NATO convoy of jeeps and lorries headed from the port of Thessaloniki to the Greek border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia lost their way early this morning and found themselves driving aimlessly around the city's vegetable market. According to an official briefing from military officials, some drivers in the 101 vehicle-convoy lost sight of the other vehicles and missed a turning, driving straight into the sprawling marketplace. But a member of the city's anti-war committee, speaking to the ANA anonymously, said that he had deliberately diverted the convoy by removing road signs set up to direct vehicles from the port to the roads leading to the border. Greek Police jeeps quickly detected the lost NATO vehicles when it was discovered they were missing and led them out of the market and onto the right road.

EMU entry likely but still not a given - banker

Attainment of the conditions for Greece's entry into the eurozone byh 2001 was feasible and quite probable, but it should not be considered a given fact, Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos said in a report on the Greek economy released today. The report said that the impact of the Yugoslav crisis on the Greek economy was "negligible", while bond prices and the drachma parity had noted limited fluctuations that were within the normal boundaries. The report warned, however, that if the crisis continued, there would be repercussions on economic activity, and more specifically on tourism, transport and trade. It said ensuring price stability in 1999 and the following years hinged on the attitude of the social partners.

Former minister sets up new party

Former minister Stephanos Manos on Thursday announced the founding of a new political party called "The Liberals" which aims to attract voters from the entire spectrum of political belief. The independent deputy presented the party's founding manifesto, signed by 350 citizens, in the Athens district of Gazi. Not one of the 350 - who include business executives, technocrats and members of the country's cultural and intellectual community - has previously been involved in politics. Speaking at today's event, Manos said he wanted the party to express all citizens "whether they voted right, left, centre or are liberals". Manos, 60, was first elected deputy for Athens with the now main opposition New Democracy party in 1977. During his political career, he has held a number of portfolios including Environment, Industry, National Economy and Finance.

Shipowner donates 500 million dr. for refugees

Marianna Latsi, daughter of shipping magnate Yannis Latsis, today presented premier Costas Simitis with a check for 500 million dr. to help in easing the plight of the refugees due to the Yugoslav crisis. "I hope we can help relieve the neighbouring people, who are undergoing such hardships, and we believe that, through the State, this is the best way to ensure that assistance will arrive most quickly to those people who have such need of it," Latsi said. Thanking her for her contribution, Simitis said that the efforts for providing humanitarian assistance needed to be intensified so long as the war continued.

Former Yugoslav royal wants to return to Belgrade

The son of Yugoslavia's deposed king called for the reinstatement of the constitutional monarchy in the besieged Balkan country and criticised both the NATO bombings and Slobodan Milosevic. Prince Alexander blamed Yugoslav President Milosevic for the Kosovo crisis and the bombings against Yugoslavia, saying Milosevic was the leader of "250,000 thugs" dominating the country's almost 11 million residents. "My family is part of the history of the country...the regimes that followed (World War II) neglected this. There is a future for the monarchy. The state mechanisms, however, worked against us," he said. The monarchy was officially abolished by Josip Broz 'Tito' in November 1945.

Kosovo crisis will have impact on tourism

EU Commissioner for Tourism Christos Papoutsis today expressed "strong concern" over the repercussions on the tourism industry of the European Union member states and the other countries of southeastern Europe due to the continuing crisis in Yugoslavia. "I believe this is a problem that must be taken seriously in mind by the European Union with the aim of averting a worsening of the already seriously hurt tourism industry. All the more so when everyone, without exception, recognises the decisive contribution of tourism to the creation of millions of new jobs in Europe," he said, adding that "coordinated efforts on the part of public and private agencies" was necessary to achieve that. Papoutsis called on all sides to "undertake initiatives for finding a peaceful and stable political solution", warning that "the continuing crisis harms all the countries of the region".

Crew safe after freighter fire

All 28 crewmembers, including 19 Filippino seamen and nine Greek officers, aboard a Maltese-flag tanker that caught fire off the Cypriot port town of Paphos on Wednesday, were reported safe, a merchant marine ministry official told ANA today. The 19,167-ton Greek-owned "Efxinos Pontos" caught fire, from causes as yet unknown, as it was sailing 20 miles south of Paphos. The fire was quickly extinguished by the crew, but the ship was still adrift at noon today, and a tugboat that set sail from Piraeus port this morning was expected to reach the distressed vessel later this afternoon, the official said.

WEATHER

Fair weather will prevail in most parts of Greece on day with a further rise in temperatures. Partly cloudy in the west with intermittent rain or storms in the north in the afternoon. Winds variable, light to moderate. Mostly fair in Athens with temperatures between 12-28C. Possibility of rain in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 10-24C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          303.651
Pound sterling       491.556
Japanese yen (100)   254.448
French franc          49.390
German mark          165.647
Italian lira (100)    16.732
Irish Punt           411.367
Belgian franc          8.031
Luxembourg franc       8.031
Finnish mark          54.489
Dutch guilder        147.014
Danish kr.            43.583
Austrian sch.         23.544
Spanish peseta         1.947
Swedish kr.           36.416
Norwegian kr.         38.986
Swiss franc          201.381
Port. Escudo           1.616
Aus. dollar          198.708
Can. dollar          205.503
Cyprus pound         560.480
Euro                 323.977
(M.P.)
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