|Monday, 11 December 2023|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 99-03-26
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <ert.ntua.gr/>
 NATO air strikes on Serbian targets continueNATO has stepped up its pressure on the Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, with further air raids by NATO bombers last night on Serbian targets, including airports, air defence installations and army camps. Belgrade announced that two NATO bombers were shot down over northern Serbia and 15 rockets destroyed in the air, while the United States, Britain and France claim all the aircraft returned safely to their bases.
 International reaction to the strikesThe Italian prime minister, Massimo D'Alema, has called for an end to the NATO attacks and for peace talks to start immediately.
The Russian ambassador to Cyprus, Georgy Muratov, announced that his country would take all necessary measures to stop what he called a negative development for the whole world. He said the attack on Yugoslavia was an act of pure aggression.
Speaking from Berlin last night, where he is attending the sessions of the EU summit, the Greek foreign minister, Giorgos Papandreou, underlined the need to open the way for a diplomatic solution to the Kosovo crisis - a position also outlined earlier by the Greek prime minister, Kostas Simitis, who gave assurances that Greece would not participate in the NATO operations.
A British foreign office spokesman insisted yesterday that the Serbs must sign the Rambouillet agreement on Kosovo and rejected a proposal from the Yugoslav deputy premier, Wuk Draskovic, for an end to the NATO strikes in exchange for the cessation of Yugoslav attacks on Albanian rebels in Kosovo.
Meanwhile at a joint press conference in Brussels yesterday, the NATO secretary general, Javier Solana, and the commander of the NATO forces in Europe, General Wesley Clarke, said the air attacks would continue until President Milosevic accepted the peace plan proposed by the contact group for Kosovo.
The American secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, is expected to address a message in Serbo-Croat to the Yugoslav people via a television broadcast later today, in which she will explain American positions.
 Belgrade severs diplomatic relations with certain countriesBelgrade announced yesterday that it had severed diplomatic relations with the United States, France, Britain and Germany and had authorised the Greek ambassador in Germany to represent Yugoslavia. Journalists from the countries participating in the NATO strikes have also been ordered to leave Yugoslavia.
There were serious incidents in Skopje yesterday when Serbs carried out anti-American demonstrations. Four explosions occurred outside the British and German embassies and cars were set on fire. Demonstrators also stoned the residences of members of western diplomatic missions in Banja Luka, the Serbian capital in Bosnia.
In Washington, meanwhile, amid widespread scepticism regarding the effectiveness of the NATO attacks, the American Senate is pushing forward resolutions on the provision of military aid for the Kosovo separatists and the overthrow of President Milosevic.
 Greek officials strongly condemn NATO air strikesThe president of the Greek republic, Kostis Stefanopoulos, the speaker of the Greek parliament, Apostolos Kaklamanis, and Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece were among those who lashed out at Washington yesterday for its stand over Yugoslavia. They were harshly critical of the NATO attacks and pronounced their support for the Serbs.
Referring to recent statements by the American president, Bill Clinton, the Greek president said that if the Americans wanted to show their humanitarian concern, there was always the Cyprus dispute.
 Turkish foreign minister says war with Greece highly unlikelyThe Turkish foreign minister, Ismail Cem, told a press conference in Ankara yesterday that a war situation between his country and Greece sparked off by the Kosovo crisis could only occur if Greece left NATO and fought the Alliance on the side of the Serbs. He added he was not expecting such a thing to happen.
Referring to a telephone conversation he had with the Greek foreign minister, Giorgos Papandreou, Mr Cem said his Greek counterpart had invited him to discuss a proposal for the supply of humanitarian aid to Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
 Greek trade unions stage protest rallies over NATO strikesThe Confederation of Greek Workers and the civil servants' union are staging a 2-hour work stoppage between 1 and 3 p.m. today in protest at the NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia, and have called workers to take part in a rally outside the gates of Athens University at 6 o'clock this afternoon. The Greek Communist party is also staging a demonstration in Kaningos Square in central Athens this afternoon against the NATO raids.
 Greece and Greeks abroad celebrate Greek Independence DayUnder the cloud of the NATO attacks, Greece celebrated the national holiday of March 25th yesterday, the anniversary of the Greek revolution against Ottoman rule in 1821.
The customary military parade took place in central Athens at which the president of the republic took the salute. Prior to the parade President Stefanopoulos attended a special service in the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral, along with members of the government and other officials.
To mark the occasion the Cypriot president, Glafkos Kliridis, sent a cable of congratulations to President Stefanopoulos and the Greek prime minister, Kostas Simitis, in which he said Cypriot Hellenism was inspired by the 1821 freedom-fighters in its own struggle for survival, as well as for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus dispute.
The anniversary of Greece's independence was celebrated all over the country as well as in centres of Hellenism throughout the world.
Archbishop Spyridon of America and leaders of the Greek American community met at the White House with president Bill Clinton at the annual ceremony on the signing by the American president of the declaration for Greek Independence Day. Attending the short courtesy meeting was also Greek foreign undersecretary responsible for issues of Greeks abroad Grigoris Niotis, who is in Washington to take part in celebrations for March 25th and also met with American assistant secretary of state responsible for European issues Mark Grossman.
After the meeting, Mr Niotis said he thanked president Clinton for the interest shown in a just and viable Cyprus solution and the initiatives undertaken in that direction and urged him to continue efforts to achieve the goal. Also discussed were developments in Kosovo. Mr Niotis said president Clinton expressed personal interest in the ethnic Greek minority in Albania and the hope the war would not spread.
 EU summit meeting in Berlin focuses on Agenda 2000Overshadowed by the events in Kosovo, the EU summit meeting continued yesterday in Berlin, where discussions focused on the Agenda 2000 and structural funds.
Greek government sources believe the total of sums to be granted to Greece for the period 2000-2006 from EU funds will be satisfactory on the basis of a plan submitted by the German presidency of the EU. Reports said the overall package was adequate, although the sums from various funds fell short of initial Greek expectations. Nevertheless, the European leaders are close to reaching a political agreement on budget reforms after two days of intense negotiations.
Meanwhile the European Parliament's foreign relations committee has passed two resolutions on Cyprus' admission to the EU and EU funding for Turkey. They will go to the plenum for approval during the session from 12 to 16 April.
 State exams for modern Greek in New York stateThe state of New York has announced it would continue recognizing the annual official state exam for modern Greek. The announcement was made by Dr de Mauro, director of the education department of the state of New York during a meeting with Greek Orthodox Archbishop Spyridon of America.
The decision of New York state is of particular importance for the teaching of modern Greek in the rest of the USA. State exams for Greek in New York state have become a model for other states such as Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.