|Monday, 27 March 2023|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 99-04-01
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From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <ert.ntua.gr/>
 Debate in Greek parliament on Kosovo crisisSpeaking during yesterday's special debate in parliament on the crisis in Yugoslavia, the Greek prime minister, Kostas Simitis, underlined that the government placed Greece's interests above all else. He said it was important to secure stability, economic prosperity and prospects in an unstable environment and not resort to any actions or options which would have disastrous consequences for the country's future. He added that Greece was a member of NATO and its stand was determined by the fact that it sought to consolidate its own interests and avoid unforeseen repercussions for Greek national issues.
With reference to the Kosovo issue, Mr Simitis said that right from the start Greece had advocated the granting of a broad autonomy to Kosovo within the Yugoslav borders and that the solution to the problem could only be a diplomatic and political one.
In his speech, the prime minister pointed out that Greece was ready to take up diplomatic initiatives and look for a diplomatic solution to the Kosovo problem, based on the proposals put forward at the Rambouillet talks.
Mr Simitis criticised the Serbian operations in Kosovo, stressing that Greece was opposed to the attacks and that they should be stopped immediately.
Next to take the floor was the opposition New Democracy party leader, Kostas Karamanlis, who said he approved of the government's handling of the issue so far and that he was in favour of a political solution to the crisis. He proposed the deployment in Kosovo of a military force from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The general secretary of the Greek Communist party, Aleka Papariga, and the leader of the Coalition of the Left Wing and Progress, Nikos Konstantopoulos, accused the government of hypocrisy, claiming it had endorsed all the stages of the NATO decisions regarding operations against Serbia. The president of the Democratic Social Movement, Dimitris Tsovolas, called for a meeting of the political leaders council under the chairmanship of the president of the republic and criticised the government for its handling of the situation, maintaining it should have vetoed the NATO decisions.
 Eighth night of NATO air strikesNATO forces continued their air strikes on Pristina and Belgrade last night for the eighth consecutive night. The American Pentagon spokesman, Ken Bacon, said the headquarters of Yugoslavia's special forces in Belgrade were among the targets hit, along with several tanks and other heavy vehicles in Kosovo. He also said three American soldiers on patrol in Kumanovo in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had been reported missing.
Ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo arriving at the Albanian border say Serbian troops forced them to leave their homes near Pristina and transported them by force to the border. According to reports, several hundred more refugees arrived at the Albanian border in the early hours of this morning.
The Yugoslav news agency Tanjug said the Yugoslav army had called on the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo to lay down their arms "before it was too late".
 International developmentsNATO, meanwhile, has rejected a call from Pope John Paul II for an Easter truce. At a press conference he gave yesterday after false reports of his death, the leader of the Albanian separatists in Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, called for an end to the NATO operations against Yugoslavia.
The Italian foreign minister, Lamberto Dini, has said the European Union and the German EU presidency are having consultations aimed at holding a new Balkan peace conference.
It has been announced in Stockholm that Sweden and Finland are preparing a joint military force which could participate in a possible peacekeeping force to be deployed in Kosovo.
Moscow has announced that it is sending 7 warships to the Adriatic on Sunday. The Russian Duma also called on president Boris Yeltsin to provide economic, military and technical aid for the defence of Yugoslavia.
The Iranian president, Mohammad Hatami, whose country holds the current presidency of the Islamic Conference, said yesterday that the situation of the Moslem ethnic Albanians in Kosovo would deteriorate as a result of the NATO attacks.
In Oslo, Norway, 1200 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and other supporters of their cause staged a peaceful demonstration to call for an immediate cessation of the NATO air raids, but also for the despatch of a force to determine possible Serbian atrocities in Kosovo.
According to an opinion poll conducted by Portuguese state TV, 63.5% of the people are against the NATO attacks while 66% oppose any involvement of the Portuguese air force in NATO operations in Kosovo.
 Greece worried over refugee situationThousands of ethnic Albanians have been fleeing their homes and have arrived in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania, threatening the economic and political stability of these two countries.
In a bid to prevent refugees from settling in the southern part of Albania where the Greek minority lives, Athens is taking action in the humanitarian field. Humanitarian aid from Greece has already arrived in Tirana where the majority of the refugees have fled.
After contacts in Tirana yesterday with the Albanian leadership on the refugee problem, the Greek foreign minister, Giorgos Papandreou, expressed his satisfaction with the Albanian government's assurances that it would protect the country's ethnic Greeks.
Humanitarian aid will be sent to the FYROM today and the Greek alternate foreign minister, Yannos Kranidiotis, will take part in the mission.
Meanwhile national defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos is starting a tour of Bulgaria, Romania and the FYROM today in a bid to promote a political solution to the Kosovo crisis and take up a common initiative for the refugees.
 Athens stock exchange affected by Kosovo crisisThe continuing crisis in Yugoslavia has affected the Athens stock exchange negatively. The general share price index went down by 3.84 percent closing at 3,376.37 units yesterday.
In the parities the fixing price for the US dollar was 303.90 drachmas, for the Deutschmark 166.656 drachmas and for the euro 325.95 drachmas.
Nevertheless, national economy minister Yannos Papantoniou appeared optimistic about the course of the Greek economy and predicted that the inflation rate would drop to 2% this year.
Referring to the European Commission's report, according to which Greece will meet the inflation criteria in the next few months for its entry into the euro zone, Mr Papantoniou said that the report confirmed Greece's intention to join European economic and monetary union on the basis of its own achievements.
 PASOK preparing for European electionsThe secretary of the ruling PASOK party, Kostas Skandalidis, has said that all leading PASOK members strongly believe that everybody in the party will work for victory in the upcoming Euro-elections. Mr Skandalidis made the statement at the close of a session of PASOK's election campaign committee which met under the chairmanship of prime minister Kostas Simitis.
Mr Skandalidis said that they discussed the party's plans for the election campaign which, he said, would be affected by developments in Kosovo.
On Monday, the PASOK executive bureau will meet to discuss proposals for the party's course in the coming period.
 Events in Cyprus to commemorate EOKA struggle for freedomEvents started yesterday in Cypriot schools to mark today's anniversary of the beginning of EOKA's (the national organisation of Cypriot freedom fighters) struggle for Cyprus' independence. The Cypriot education minister, Ouranios Ioannidis said in a message that Cyprus' struggle for freedom continues today in another guise and called on the pupils to follow the example of the great generation of 1955.
The events for the anniversary of April 1st, 1955, will culminate today with religious services and parades throughout free Cyprus.
 Failed rocket attack on PASOK offices in AthensA 3.5 inch rocket was launched shortly before midnight from a car park behind the PASOK offices in central Athens yesterday, but did not go off. The anti-terrorist police squad believe the attempted attack on the PASOK office building was the work of the terrorist organization November 17th.
 Manolis Daskalakis joins Democratic Social MovementFollowing a meeting yesterday with the president of the Democratic Social Movement, Dimitris Tsovolas, Manolis Daskalakis, who withdrew from the PASOK party recently, announced that he would join the Democratic Social Movement because it was the only party which gave hope for the justification of the values the majority of the Greek people had fought for, and he called on all those who were disappointed with the PASOK party's policy to join the Democratic Social Movement and fight with it. Mr Daskalakis also announced that he would be a candidate in the Euro- elections because he has learned to fight for values and not for posts.
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