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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-05-11

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, 11/05/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek, Portuguese PMs urge peace
  • Albanian, FYROM leaders meet in Thessaloniki
  • Greece to host conference on refugee issue
  • Athens works on diplomatic front
  • Less tension in Greek-Turkish relations - FM
  • 'Window of hope' for peace in Yugoslavia
  • Athens says pullout reports positive
  • U.S. envoy says understands Greek position
  • Patriarch Vartholomeos to visit Greece
  • FYROM opens doors to Greek investors
  • Greece, Morocco sign air transport agreement
  • Ship aground - French tourists safe
  • Four Turkish nationals get jail
  • Greek equities resume upward course
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek, Portuguese PMs urge peace

Greece's Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday urged Yugoslavia and NATO to move towards achieving peace and for work to begin as soon as possible on rebuilding the region. "Every move that contributes to peace is positive, " Simitis told reporters in Thessaloniki after talks with visiting Portuguese counterpart Antoniou Guterres. Simitis was referring to a statement by Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic on Monday regarding a partial withdrawal of federal troops from the province of Kosovo. He said Milosevic's act was positive but must be accompanied by further action such as an end to bombing. Simitis said last week's draft proposal for a settlement from the 'G8' countries was a good basis for a final settlement of the Kosovo problem.

Albanian, FYROM leaders meet in Thessaloniki

The prime ministers of Albania and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) met in Thessaloniki on Monday evening to discuss the situation in their countries in the wake of the massive influx of Kosovo refugees to both. Albania's Pandeli Majko and FYROM's Ljubco Georgievski, in the northern Greek capital to attend a business forum, said they agreed that Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic had to accept NATO's terms for a halt to hostilities. Diplomatssaid the meeting was significant, given frayed relations between the two countries recently, due to the refugee influx and Skopje's suspicions that Kosovo Liberation Army units are using Albanian territory to enter FYROM. Skopje fears that such activity is creating the conditions for a future destabilisation.

Greece to host conference on refugee issue

Greece will organise a conference next month on the problem of the refugees from neighbouring Yugoslavia, foreign minister George Papandreou announced today in Thessaloniki. He told delegates to a two-day business forum on southeastern Europe that winds up today in the northern Greek capital that the conference would be held in Thessaloniki, organised jointly with the UN High Commission for Refugees and with the agreement of the European Union, NATO, the United States and other countries.

Athens works on diplomatic front

Foreign Minister George Papandreou said today that Athens had advanced a plan for peace in Yugoslavia and was intensifying its efforts, together with the European Union and NATO, to end the war. Addressing a two-day business forum on southeastern Europe that winds up today in the northern Greek capital, Papandreou condemned ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, at the same time noting that "we cannot speak of ethnic states in the Balkans". He welcomed Belgrade's announcement of a partial troop pullout from Kosovo as "a first step in the right direction", adding that "we are awaiting the next steps".

Less tension in Greek-Turkish relations - FM

Papandreou told the forum that the Kosovo crisis had contributed to a reduction in tension between Greece and Turkey and expressed the hope that this reduction "will not be temporary but long-term". "We extend a hand of friendship to Turkey, not from a position of weakness, but in the belief that this contributes to stability in the region and we hope that Turkey will respond," Papandreou said.

'Window of hope' for peace in Yugoslavia

Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis on Tuesday said Belgrade's announcement of a partial troop withdrawal from Kosovo opened "the window of hope" for a peaceful settlement of the crisis. Apostolakis was speaking at a luncheon given in honour of alternate and deputy defence ministers since 1974. Replying to questions, Apostolakis said "full Greek crews" were not participating in AWACS operations in Yugoslavia. A number of officers may have participated in some mission or another, Apostolakis added, stressing however that the AWACS were early warning radar aircraft and were not being used to direct operations in Yugoslavia.

Athens says pullout reports positive

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas described as a "positive step" Milosevic's intention to gradually withdraw Serb military forces from Kosovo, while stressing that "other steps" also had to be taken. Reppas said the visit to Belgrade by Russian President Boris Yeltsin's Kosovo envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, was expected to help clarify the intentions of the Serbian leadership. The spokesman said Belgrade would have to take an "overall" position on the G8 draft peace agreement in order for efforts to begin immediately to find a peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis. According to Reppas, "developments can be expected" in the next few days.

U.S. envoy says understands Greek position

US Ambassador Nicholas Burns said on Tuesday that he completely understood Greece's position on the Yugoslav crisis and fully supported the efforts and initiatives taken by the Greek government aimed at bringing peace to the region. Addressing a businees forum on SE Europe in Thessaloniki, Burns said Washington also supported a proposal for the convening of a conference to discuss the reconstruction of the region, announced at the forum shortly before by Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

Patriarch Vartholomeos to visit Greece

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians, will visit the metropolitan church in the Thessaloniki suburb of Kalamaria on May 31, the feast of the Holy Spirit. He will be accompanied by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece. The Ecumenical Patriarch arrives in Athens on May 21 for a two-week visit as the official guest of the Orthodox Church of Greece. He will be received with all the honours accorded a head of state.

FYROM opens doors to Greek investors

The prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Ljubco Georgievski on Tuesday issued an open invitation to Greek businessmen to invest in his country, saying economic cooperation was the key to stronger bilateral ties. "I believe in a strong spirit of mutual friendship between the two countries and believe that the five months of our government has opened a positive road to strong political communication with the Greek government," Georgievski said after meetings with Greek ministers and business figures in Thessaloniki. He said his meeting on Tuesday with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis had contributed to this positive atmosphere.

Greece, Morocco sign air transport agreement

Greece and Morocco have signed an air transport agreement providing for the free movement of passengers, cargo and mail between the two countries, the Transport and Communications Ministry announced today in Athens. It said the agreement was signed in Rabat by Greek transport and communications minister Tassos Mantelis and his Moroccan counterpart Mustafa Mansouri during the former's recent visit to Morocco. The two ministers also underlined their countries' interest for further development of bilateral relation in all sectors of transport, and particularly in advancing combined transports in the framework of the develoment of European- Mediterranean cooperation, the ministry said.

Ship aground - French tourists safe

All 29 French passengers and five Greek crew members of a passenger ship that ran aground off Paros island at dawn today were safe and unhurt, coast guard officials told the ANA. They said the Spetses-registered "Nikolas A" ran aground in the shallows off Aghios Fokas, Paros at 4:45 a.m. Three trawlers and a tugboat were immediately dispatched to the scene, as well as a small passenger ship, which took on the French tourists. The crew remained on board the ship, which was being inspected by a diver to ascertain the extent of the damage.

Four Turkish nationals get jail

A Cretan court today sentenced four Turkish nationals to 10 years imprisonment each for smuggling 60 Kurdish illegal immigrants into Greece last week. Musa Yasbay, Nihat Tyrkmen, Hasan Yildiz and Turgut Yildiz were also fined 8 million dr. each by the court in the town of Lassithi. The 60 Kurds and four Turks were arrested last Thursday off Lassithi after the Turks flooded the 20-metre-long vessel's engine room when they realised they were under surveillance by the local port authorities, but were nabbed before they were able to abandon the sinking boat.

Greek equities resume upward course

Equity prices resumed their upward course to end at new record levels on Tuesday on the Athens Stock Exchange. The general index ended 2.56 percent up to 4,104.69 points, its 26th record this year. The index shows a 49.94 percent gain already in 1999. Turnover was 190.925 billion drachmas and volume 38,100,476 shares. Traders said the market has discounted the end of the war in Kosovo and was gradually turning its attention to macro-economic figures and to company profits. They also said that favourable comments made by the European Commission on the course of the Greek economy and its participation in EMU, positive reports on domestic markets' outlook by international investment firms and surprisingly big profits announced by the majority of listed companies - led by banks - created a very positive climate in the Athens bourse. The parallel market index for small cap companies soared 6.74 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 1.67 percent up to 2,488.05.

WEATHER

Fair weather is forecast in most parts of Greece today, with light cloud late in the day in northern Greece. Winds north, northwesterly light to moderate. Athens will be sunny, with a light cloud and temperatures from 13- 26C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures ranging from 11-23C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          301.568
Pound sterling       490.742
Japanese yen (100)   249.607
French franc          49.374
German mark          165.592
Italian lira (100)    16.726
Irish Punt           411.228
Belgian franc          8.028
Luxembourg franc       8.028
Finnish mark          54.471
Dutch guilder        146.965
Danish kr.            43.583
Austrian sch.         23.536
Spanish peseta         1.946
Swedish kr.           36.146
Norwegian kr.         39.376
Swiss franc          201.480
Port. Escudo           1.615
Can. dollar          201.788
Aus. dollar          206.475
Cyprus pound         558.694
Euro                 323.868
(M.P.)
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