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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-05-17

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, 17/05/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Papandreou condemns rocket attack
  • Greece to propose temporary truce in Yugoslav conflict
  • Alternate FM calls on Turkish Cypriots to attend EU accession talks
  • Tripartite meeting in Sofia ends with release of joint communique
  • Athens denies providing facilities for NATO aircraft
  • Tsohatzopoulos tells Turkey to 'display greater attention to maps'
  • Simitis calls for better ties with Ankara in Euroelection rallies
  • Karamanlis inaugurates ND's Euroelections campaign in Patra
  • Constantopoulos: Yugoslav war will be main issue in Euroelections
  • Greek first division soccer results/standings
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Papandreou condemns rocket attack

Foreign Minister George Papandreou today strongly condemned a rocket attack against the home of the German ambassador in Athens, which police believe to be the work of the notorious "November 17" terrorist organisation.

Using strong language, Papandreou said in a statement: "I condemn in a most categorical manner the bomb attack against the house of the German ambassador and wish to express my sincere sentiments of sympathy to his family and the ambassador personally".

Papandreou said that while Greece "is undertaking diplomatic initiatives for a political settlement of the Kosovo problem and, by doing so, it has strengthened its international image, such actions cause serious questions as to the real targets (of such attacks)".

"The excellent climate of relations between Greece and Germany will in no way be disturbed by such actions", Papandreou added.

The 3.5 inch rocket fired from a distance of about 150 yards from the German envoy's residence in the residential Athens suburb of Halandri grazed a tree-top before smashing on the mansion's roof causing damage but no injuries.

German ambassador Karl-Heinz Albert Kuhna and his family were in the house at the time of the attack which occurred one hour before midnight Sunday.

Greece to propose temporary truce in Yugoslav conflict

Foreign Minister George Papandreou will propose a temporary 48-hour truce to give diplomacy time to work towards a final settlement of the Yugoslav conflict in his meetings today in Paris.

Mr. Papandreou, in an interview in Sunday's Eleftherotypia, said he would make the same recommendation to Washington and Moscow.

Belgrade would have to give a clear response during the truce, Mr. Papandreou said, and the period would also give the UN Security Council time to issue a resolution and for work to begin on the agreement drafted by the G8 two weeks ago.

"It is a last chance for peace," Mr. Papandreou said.

The Greek foreign minister is due in Paris today for talks with his French counterpart Hubert Vedrine. Tomorrow, he will meet with Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, recently come to the fore as a possible leading mediator in efforts aimed at a peaceful settlement.

In statements in Sofia on Saturday, where he attended a tripartite meeting of the Romanian, Bulgarian and Greek foreign ministers, Mr. Papandreou said the three countries were working on ensuring a quick end to the war and contributing to the consolidation of permanent stability and peace in the Balkans.

"We need a quick political solution," Mr. Papandreou told a news conference.

He reiterated Greece's reservations vis-a-vis NATO's air strikes on Yugoslavia and Athens' refusal to participate in any way in hostilities.

Greece, he reminded the reporters, was providing administrative support to the Alliance's peacekeeping forces in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in the framework of Athens' efforts to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

All the countries of the region are aware of the need for the refugees to return to their homes, he said, and share the view that multi-ethnic communities in the Balkans must be supported.

However, he added, any attempt to change existing borders in the Balkans will act against creating such communities and deal the death blow not only to peace in the region but to European unification.

Mr. Papandreou said the Sofia meeting - the fifth such tripartite meeting - has sent a clear message that the Balkans should not be the forgotten man of Europe.

Alternate FM calls on Turkish Cypriots to attend EU accession talks

Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis on Saturday called on Turkish Cypriots to accept an invitation from the Cyprus government to participate in accession talks with the European Union (EU).

Mr. Kranidiotis was speaking at a business meeting for Greek and Greek Cypriot business persons, organised in Nicosia on Saturday by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the largest-selling daily newspaper "Fileleftheros".

The Greek official stressed the need for the resumption of a dialogue to settle the Cyprus problem and underlined that the US has an important role to play for a solution to be reached.

Mr. Kranidiotis also referred to the Kosovo crisis and the need for a peaceful settlement to the problem. "UN resolutions remain the only legal framework for a settlement to the Cyprus question," he said, and noted that the Greek Cypriot side "has made it clear it is ready to respond positively to any serious effort for the resumption of talks." Welcoming efforts by the organisation of the seven most developed countries plus Russia (G8) to this end, he said the dialogue must be based on

UN resolutions stipulating for the establishment of a federal state, with one sovereignty and international personality.

"In efforts for a just solution we recognise that the role of the US is especially important," Mr. Kranidiotis said, adding "we have assu-rances that they wish to help". The Greek official said the US must not only express verbal support but must also act and called on Washington to "exert pressure on Ankara and help UN efforts".

Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, backed by Ankara, is refusing to participate in peace talks unless the illegal regime unilaterally declared in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974 is recognised.

Mr. Denktash also proposed the establishment of a "confederation of two states", a demand rejected by the UN, the Cyprus government, Greece and all other key players in the peace effort as it is contrary to UN resolutions.

Referring to Cyprus' bid to join the EU, Mr. Kranidiotis said the Republic was now trying to enforce the acquis communautaire in the areas under its control and described the accession course which got underway last year as a way to modernise the economy and society.

Tripartite meeting in Sofia ends with release of joint communique

The fifth successive meeting of the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania ended in Sofia on Saturday with the issuing of a joint communique in support of well-intentioned dialogue, peace and cooperation in the Balkans .

"What we have shown here, is that even in the midst of a crisis, we can work together. We here in the Balkans can show just how strong our will is for cooperation and peace. And this tripartite meeting is just an example, there are of course other examples which reflect the will of all of us that the Kosovo crisis should not create prospects for any further eruption of nationalism and new conflicts...," Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou told a news conference.

During the two-day meeting, Mr. Papandreou and the foreign ministers of Bulgaria and Romania, Nadezhda Mihailova and Andrei Plesu respectively, exchanged views on a wide range of issues of common interest related to security and stability in SE Europe.

They also discussed the ongoing Kosovo crisis and its repercussions for the security of the greater region, according to the joint communique.

The three ministers expressed their firm support for the G8 draft peace agreement for Kosovo and called on Belgrade to accept it.

Lastly, the ministers called on the international community to continue its efforts to reinforce the humanitarian programmes for the Kosovo refugees and said the safe return to their homes should be included as a clause in any provisional political fram ework agreement for the peaceful settlement of the crisis.

According to the communique, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania will continue to actively participate in humanitarian missions and coordinate their efforts in this respect.

Athens denies providing facilities for NATO aircraft

The government on Saturday categorically denied a newspaper report claiming that Athens had given permission for an air corridor in Greek airspace to be used by NATO warplanes for missions over Yugoslavia.

"No facilities of any kind have been given to any warplane of any NATO country, let alone an air corridor in Greek airspace," Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said.

The minister dismissed the report in Saturday's edition of the Athens daily "To Vima" as being "the result of conjecture by many, in view of the apparent escalation of (NATO) operations, owing to the delay in efforts for a diplomatic solution (to the Kosovo crisis)".

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos clarified that he had never discussed the issue of providing facilities for NATO aircraft with US Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns.

"To Vima" claimed Greece on Friday gave its approval for the air corridor "Green-8" to be used by NATO aircraft, including Turkish warplanes, for missions over Yugoslavia.

The newspaper said it was the first time Athens had provided such facilities to NATO since the Alliance began its aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia on March 24.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, who appealed for an intensification of efforts "by all" to find a peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis, was also asked by reporters about the possibility of the Hellenic Navy destroyer "Themistocles" taking part in NATO searches of vessels suspected of breaking the EU oil embargo on Yugoslavia.

He clarified that the "Themistocles" was not taking part in the conflict in Yugoslavia but was simply part of the NATO naval force in the Mediterranean.

Tsohatzopoulos tells Turkey to 'display greater attention to maps'

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Saturday that Turkish officials had earned themselves "a spring shower" by helping to publicise a marriage on the uninhabited rocky islet of Plati.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also advised Turkey to "display greater attention to maps and proposals for provoking crises", given that "the present period lends itself to joint cooperation for confronting the crisis in the Balkans".

Athens on Friday dismissed Turkey's reaction to reports of a plan by a Greek couple to marry and settle on the islet of Plati in the eastern Aegean.

"Greece's positions on the Aegean are well-known and remain steadfast. The Greek government safeguards national interests. In any case, a wedding cannot constitute grounds for political discussion and even more so, a field for creating problems," govern ment spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

The reports, aired by several Greek TV channels, said the couple planned to marry and settle on Plati, which lies between the Greek islands of Kalymnos and Pserimos.

The Turkish foreign ministry reacted by charging that Greece was aiming to change "the status of geographical formations" in the Aegean.

Simitis calls for better ties with Ankara in Euroelection rallies

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Saturday that the principles of good relations between neighbours and cooperation could only be to the benefit of the peoples in the region and particularly the Greeks and Turks.

"If Turkey brings its policy into line with international law, if it proceeds with democratisation, if it respects and applies European institutions, then Turkey will find Greece willing to help in its European prospects," Mr. Simitis told a rally of party supporters in the northern Greek town of Komotini.

But he warned Ankara that "any opportunistic attempt at tension will fail" and that "sovereign rights from Thrace and the Aegean to Cyprus" are not up for negotiation.

Mr. Simitis said the government's careful policies in relation to the Balkans crisis had made Greece "a credible country both for its allies and its Balkan neighbours".

"Greece is an oasis of stability and security," he said.

He said calls from some opposition parties for Greece to leave both NATO and the EU were not to be taken seriously.

"We will not gamble with the fortunes of this country," the prime minister said. "This country will not find itself involved in adventures."

Karamanlis inaugurates ND's Euroelections campaign in Patra

Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis inaugurated his party's pre-election campaign in light of the June 13 Euroelections with an address to party supporters in downtown Patra on Saturday night, making special reference to national issues and accusing the government of having a passive position and saying yes to everything.

Speaking on the country's national issues, he spoke of the need for national consensus and lofty ideals, the restriction of words and an increase in work.

"Unfortunately, from the humiliation experienced at Imia (the rocky islet in the Aegean Sea where a crisis occurred between Greece and Turkey in January 1996) until the retreat at Madrid, from the degradation of the case of the S-300 missiles up to the Ocalan fiasco, our foreign policy is an endless series of regrettable concessions, amateurisms and mistakes," he said.

Constantopoulos: Yugoslav war will be main issue in Euroelections

Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos said in an address to his party's Central Committee yesterday the main issue in the June 13 Euroelections will be the war in Yugoslavia, adding that the position of governments, parties and political figures on the war will constitute a criterion.

Criticising the government, Mr. Constantopoulos said Greece cannot passively watch the development of this tragedy and preoccupy itself with what will happen after the war.

He said the Coalition should be proud that it was the first in the world to break the isolation NATO attempted to impose on Yugoslavia, with the visit he himself paid to Belgrade.

Following a discussion held at the Central Committee, it was decided that stage director Nikos Koundouros and actresses Dina Konsta and Eva Kotamanidou will be included in the party's ticket for the Euroelections. The ticket will be headed by Alekos Alavanos and Mihalis Papayiannakis.

Greek first division soccer results/standings

Olympiakos Piraeus-Iraklis Thessaloniki 3-2 AEK Athens-Ethnikos Piraeus 2- 0 Apollon Athens-Panathinaikos 1-3 Kavala-Panelefsiniakos 3-0 PAOK Thessaloniki-Paniliakos Pyrgos 2-0 Aris Thessaloniki-Veria 2-0 Panionios Athens-Xanthi 0-2 Ionikos Piraeus-OFI Heraklion 2-0 Ethnikos Astir Athens-Proodeftiki Piraeus 2-2 Standings/pointgs: Olympiakos 78, AEK 68, Panathinaikos 65, PAOK 56, Aris 54, Xanthi, Ionikos 53, OFI 48, Iraklis 44, Kavala 39.

WEATHER

The forecast for today is sunshine with scattered cloud with the likelihood of showers in the northern Ionian, Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace. Winds northerly mild to moderate. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 18-32C. Thessaloniki overcast with temperatures from 16-27C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          302.143
Pound sterling       487.806
Japanese yen (100)   247.127
French franc          49.126
German mark          164.759
Italian lira (100)    16.643
Irish Punt           409.162
Belgian franc          7.988
Luxembourg franc       7.988
Finnish mark          54.197
Dutch guilder        146.227
Danish kr.            43.358
Austrian sch.         23.418
Spanish peseta         1.936
Swedish kr.           35.998
Norwegian kr.         39.400
Swiss franc          201.078
Port. Escudo           1.607
Can. dollar          207.030
Aus. dollar          201.564
Cyprus pound         557.008
Euro                 322.241
(C.E.)
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