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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-05-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 24/05/1999 (ANA)


  • Greek, Czech FMs appeal for respite in NATO bombings
  • Role of Europe's parliaments in solving Kosovo quagmire
  • Next wave of Kosovars to use Thessaloniki's airport this week
  • PM accuses ND of 'doubletalk' in pre-election rally
  • Air pollution expert downplays danger of toxic spillover for Greece
  • Vasso Papandreou on war in Yugoslavia
  • Simitis forecasts PASOK victory in upcoming elections
  • Karamanlis attacks gov't over regional development
  • Vartholomeos visits Aegina, officiates at Athens Cathedral
  • Group claims Nationale Nederlanden drive-by shooting
  • Greek first division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Greek, Czech FMs appeal for respite in NATO bombings

Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Czech counterpart Jan Kavan yesterday issued a joint appeal for a brief suspension of the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia in order to assist in the finding for a peac ful solution.

The common declaration, signed by the two men during an unscheduled meetiong in Beijing, states that the two countries decided to support in public initiatives for a "short suspension of the bombings in order to give a real chance to diplomacy and allow for the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution".

The two FMs also formulated a proposal for a de-escalation of the crisis on the basis of the points agreed to by the G8, which they will submit for discussion at the North Atlantic Council's next session tomorrow.

Details of the plan were not released, however, sources said the text contains a proposal for a conditional participation of Serb military forces in the international peace force that will be deployed in Kosovo.

Mr. Kavan said the two countries "strongly believe in the role which the UN must play", with a Security Council resolution that must send "a most clear message".

He added that the proposal did not oppose NATO's efforts in any way.

Mr. Papandreou told Greek reporters that the joint initiative followed the intense diplomatic activity from various sides that arose recently, but which was 'ad hoc'.

He also said there has already been a round of contacts with several governments, such as Bonn and Washington, regarding the philosophy of the joint proposal, which showed that the initiative is "welcome from all NATO member-states."

Role of Europe's parliaments in solving Kosovo quagmire

Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday called on his European Union counterparts to back efforts for a peaceful solution to the Kosovo conflict.

Addressing a EU parliament presidents' conference in Lisbon, he stressed that parliaments had to support such efforts "in order to provide the peoples of Europe with a sense that parliamentarianism has weight which to articulate and can create prospects ."

Next wave of Kosovars to use Thessaloniki's airport this week

The government announced yesterday that a second wave of Kosovar refugees will pass through Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport this week on their way to Australia.

No firm date was given by officials at the interior ministry.

Some 400 people, mostly women, children and families, flew out of Thessaloniki last Thursday headed for Australia and after arriving in northern Greece on coaches from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Greek officials have announced that other refugees will use the airport to travel to the United States and Canada.

Athens has approved the use of Macedonia Airport as a transit point for Kosovar refugees, as airports in neighbouring FYROM and Albania are unable to cope with the volume.

PM accuses ND of 'doubletalk' in pre-election rally

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday accused the main opposition New Democracy party of having "no platform and of doubletalk", before describing ND leader Costas Karamanlis as a "modern-day Janus."

Speaking at an open-air rally in Patra, the prime minister said ND had "two languages and two policies.

One for business and one for the workers."

"ND is angling in murky waters. It underrates the intelligence of the people...It governed the country for three years and disorganised the economy. The results of the neo-liberal policy are well-known throughout Greece. It carried out speculative privati sations, without a plan and without prospects. It sent unemployment skyhigh," he added.

"By contrast, in the three-year 1997-1999 period, 532,000 people throughout the country will make use of our programmes, budgeted at 460 billion drachmasIOur goal is to cover 200,000 young unemployed until 2000 at a cost of 350 billion drachmas," he said.

Referring to the war in the Balkans, he said this was a negative development for the entire region.

"The war must stop now. Logic must prevail, peace must win. There must a political solution quickly. Greece maintained a clear position in this turmoil right from the start. We kept the country out of the conflict. We said a clear 'no' when asked to participate in the bombings," he added.

Air pollution expert downplays danger of toxic spillover for Greece

An expert on pollution said yesterday there was no danger of a toxic spillover into Greece from NATO bombings of Yugoslavia.

"The anxiety being disseminated is, if nothing more, an egocentric response, particular to Greece," Themistocles Kouimtzis, a chemistry professor at Thessaloniki's Aristotelian University, told a seminar in the northern Greek city.

It is geographically impossible for any pollutants to reach Greece, Mr. Kouimtzis said, who is also head of the university's Pollution Control Centre.

Aerial masses over Belgrade rise to an altitude of 1,500 metres with 80 per cent of the materials travelling in an easterly or northeasterly direction, not south towards Greece, he said.

He added that any airborne particals drifting towards Greece would be blocked by intervening mountains, some rising 2,500 metres, Prof. Kouimtzis said.

The professor also claimed that reports suggesting the country was adversely affected appeared to stem from "publicity-hungry scientists" seeking research funds.

Greece would only be affected if military operations were to take place in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), due to water and air flow, Prof. Kouimtzis said, noting that the Danube River was likely to have suffered pollution from the NA TO bombings.

The seminar also focused on the environmental impact of the alliance's military operations in Yugoslavia.

Vasso Papandreou on war in Yugoslavia

Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday addressed a joint session of the prefectural and municipal council of Arta, northwestern Greece, refe rring in part to the ongoing crisis in Yugoslavia and its repercussions.

"The repercussions of the war for the nationalities and peoples of Yugoslavia are already huge...we must state in advance and very clearly that as long as the ethnic, racial and religious differences are piqued the easier it will be for those who rule in the world to intervene in our region," she said.

The minister also reiterated a call for a stop to NATO's bombings of Yugoslavia.

Simitis forecasts PASOK victory in upcoming elections

The next elections pose the dilemmas of whether Greece will vote for stability or put the country in jeopardy and whether Greek voters will complete the work already achieved or will begin demolishing it, having then to beg in again as in the Sisyphus tale, Prime Minister Costas Simitis was quoted as saying in a published interview by an Athens Sunday paper yesterday.

"Greece today is among the 25 most prosperous states in the world...The Greek people know that the country is secure and a force of peace and security in the Balkans...In the June 13 Euroelections and in the national elections of 2000, they will ratify the vision of a strong Greece by giving victory to PASOK," he predicted.

The government's overall successful policy, according to the prime minister, also allows Greece to be a reliable member of NATO and the EU.

Referring to the Yugoslav crisis, Mr. Simitis noted that "thanks to our stand, we have safeguarded our major and vital national interests".

He also forecast that Greece will play a pivotal role in any political reconstruction of the Balkans, not because someone will offer this position for free but because "we have already proved with our overall policy in past years that we have both a role and a task in the area".

"The developments of the last few days justify the hope that a solution will be found," he added in the interview, published by "To Vima."

Karamanlis attacks gov't over regional development

Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis on Saturday severely criticised the PASOK government over its policy regarding regional development, saying no infrastructure works are underway in the provinces, especially in Evritania prefecture.

The ND leader was addressing an election rally in Karpenissi, Evritania's capital.

"Instead of directing community funds towards infrastructure works and the restructuring of agricultural production, it (government) uses them for pre- election spending in order to attract voters".

He also promised that he would "personally wage battle in the European Union" for the protection of farm products and the reinforcement of the agricultural sector.

Vartholomeos visits Aegina, officiates at Athens Cathedral

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christo doulos officiated at a mass at the Athens Cathedral yesterday morning, in the presence of the president of the republic, ministers and other officials.

Addressing the Patriarch, Christodoulos stressed the significance of the Phanar, the Patriarchate's seat, which as he said, "makes every effort for the unity, stability and concord of the autonomous and autocephalus Orthodox Churches".

On Saturday, the two prelates visited the monastery of Agios Nektarios, a 20th century saint, on the island of Aegina. The Patriarch later visited the Wildlife and Stray Animal Care Centre on the island, where he congratulated the staff on their efforts.

Yesterday, Vartholomeos and Christodoulos met with US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns, who said afterwards that he conveyed Washington's high regard for the person of the Patriarch and the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece.

He added that talks focused mainly on US President Bill Clinton's support for the reopening of the theological school at Halki - closed by the Turkish government in 1971 - but more generally, on the work of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The Patriarch later visited the Athens Economic University and was the guest of honour at a dinner hosted by the Turkish ambassador in the evening.

He will meet with Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis and Prime Minister Costas Simitis today.

Group claims Nationale Nederlanden drive-by shooting

An anonymous caller to a radio station yesterday claimed responsibility on behalf of a shadowy terrorist group for the strafing of a Nationale Nederlanden ins urance group branch in Athens.

According to reports, two youths riding atop a motorbike were seen speeding past the branch on Syngrou Avenue late Saturday just as three shots were fired at the building's entrance.

The 'Red Line' group has claimed responsibility for similar attacks in the past.

Greek first division soccer results

Panionios Athens-Olympiakos Piraeus 1-4 AEK Athens-Xanthi 2-1 Panathinaikos-Veria 1-0 Aris Thessaloniki-Paniliakos Pyrgos 3-1 Apollon Athens-Iraklis Thessaloniki 1-3 PAOK Thessaloniki-Ethnikos Astir Athens 5-1 Ionikos Piraeus-Proodeftiki Piraeus 2-0 Kavala-OFI Heraklion 0-2 Panelefsiniakos-Ethnikos Piraeus 3-0 Standings, points: Olympiakos 84, AEK 74, Panathinaikos 71, Aris 60, Ionikos 59, PAOK 59, Xanthi 53, OFI 51, Iraklis 47, Kavala 42.


Cloudy weather is forecast in many parts of the country on Monday, turning to rain in some areas in the evening. Temperatures in Athens will range from 17C to 26C, and in Thessaloniki from 15C to 22C.


Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          304.008
Pound sterling       488.639
Japanese yen (100)   245.768
French franc          49.135
German mark          164.790
Italian lira (100)    16.646
Irish Punt           409.238
Belgian franc          7.990
Luxembourg franc       7.990
Finnish mark          54.207
Dutch guilder        146.254
Danish kr.            43.356
Austrian sch.         23.422
Spanish peseta         1.937
Swedish kr.           35.922
Norwegian kr.         39.174
Swiss franc          201.088
Port. Escudo           1.608
Can. dollar          207.268
Aus. dollar          201.431
Cyprus pound         557.008
Euro                 322.301
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