|Tuesday, 28 November 2023|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 99-04-22
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <ert.ntua.gr/>
 Belgrade again under NATO fireIt has been another night of bombing in Yugoslavia, with targets in Belgrade again coming under fire from NATO planes. At least 20 major explosions occurred in the suburbs of the Yugoslav capital during the night. Batanica airport outside the city was once again hit, as were television transmitters near Novi Sad and a hospital in Valjevo. The Tanyug news agency reports that the attacks were numerous and more forceful than any so far carried out.
Meanwhile yesterday's strike by NATO forces against a camp of Serbian refugees from Kraina has caused anger and distress. 10 people were killed and 16 others injured in the attack.
The European Commission is to propose the imposition of an oil embargo on Yugoslavia to the council of EU foreign ministers which convenes in Luxemburg on Monday. Greece is the only country to vote against the move. The Commission has authorised the Dutch commissioner, Hans van den Broek, to table the relative proposal.
From next Monday Bulgaria is expected to allow NATO use of its national air space for operations against Yugoslavia, according to statements made by the country's prime minister, Ivan Kostov, while the Rumanian parliament is meeting today to ratify a similar NATO request.
Meanwhile the Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, told an American television channel last night that representatives of the International Red Cross would soon be able to visit the three American soldiers being held hostage in Yugoslavia, and gave assurances that the rights of the three soldiers were being respected in accordance with international law.
The Russian president's special envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, is having talks with President Milosevic in Belgrade today.
In an interview published in the French magazine, Figaro, the Albanian president, Rexhep Mejdani, said the intervention of ground troops in Kosovo was essential, adding that Serbian violations of the Albanian border were aimed at drawing Tirana into the war.
 Preparations go ahead for ground offensiveOnly days before the summit of NATO and the seven countries bordering Yugoslavia opens on Sunday in Washington, international analysts have observed clear signs that the question of a ground offensive against Yugoslavia is being examined very seriously. The American defence secretary, William Cohen, has admitted, however, that there are major objections to such an operation from within NATO's ranks. The NATO secretary general, Javier Solana, said ground troops would not be deployed until the Serbian armed forces had been weakened still further.
The American secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, has ruled out the splitting of Kosovo but equally she did not rule out the idea of the region being turned into an international protectorate.
At the same time, the German government is continuing its efforts to formulate a joint European plan for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. An urgent meeting of the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and Italy took place in Paris yesterday.
 Increased concern about ecological repercussionsThere is growing concern about the possible effects on the environment in Greece from the NATO bombings in Yugoslavia.
Scientists at the Demokriteio University of Thrace have recorded increased levels of dioxine and other carcinogenic substances in the atmosphere in northern Greece.
The environment minister, Kostas Laliotis, said his ministry had no intention of concealing relative data and stressed that any research on the issue was welcome.
Sublieutenant Marinos Ritsoudis, who appeared at the naval court in Piraeus yesterday morning charged with insubordination because he refused to leave for the Adriatic on board the destroyer Themistoklis, has been sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment.
In Athens, a mass rally, organised by the Athens Labour Centre against the war in Yugoslavia, will take place in Constitution Square at seven o'clock this evening.
 Greek prime minister calls for end to hostilitiesAddressing an event in New York yesterday, the Greek prime minister, Kostas Simitis, reiterated the need to put an end to the bombing in Yugoslavia and to find a political solution to the crisis. He also warned of the danger of prolonging the crisis and emphasised that Greece would not take part in military operations.
Asked about the impact which the results of the recent elections in Turkey would have on Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue, Mr Simitis said Greece was always seeking solutions in order to improve its relations with Turkey, no matter which government was in power.
With regard to the Cyprus dispute, the prime minister said demilitarisation of the island should be accomplished through the withdrawal of all foreign troops so that there could be progress in the peace process, which would also help resolve the political problems.
Referring to the Kosovo crisis, Mr Simitis pointed out that right from the start, when President Milosevic first took measures against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population, Greece had said these measures were wrong. He let it be understood that the Kosovo Liberation Army was a factor of instability and warned that any change in the region's borders would carry the risk of all-out war in the Balkans.
 Greece's approach to EMU not affected by the warInternational economic circles have said the crisis in Yugoslavia will not affect Greece's course towards European economic and monetary union. The Deutsche Bank said in a report that the Greek market offered the best opportunities of all the emerging European economies.
The governor of the Bank of Greece, Loukas Papadimos, said Greece would achieve its goal of a 2% inflation rate by the end of this year, adding that the Kosovo crisis was having only limited repercussions on the Greek economy. However, he said both the government and the Bank of Greece were on the alert.
The general share price index on the Athens stock exchange fell by 0.68% yesterday, closing at 3,350.56 points. In the parities, the American dollar was fixed at 307.35 drachmas, the Deutschmark at 166.625 drachmas and the euro at 325.89 drachmas.
 Cyprus' EU admission talks proceeding smoothlyThe conclusion reached at a meeting of the joint EU-Cyprus parliamentary committee, which took place in Paphos, was that Cyprus' pre-accession process is on the right course.
The EU negotiator responsible for Cyprus' admission to the Union, Leopold Maurer, reported that examination of 23 of the 32 chapters on Cyprus' accession has been concluded. He said talks on the free movement of employees, on agriculture and on the Agenda 2000 were continuing.
 Pangalos to testify on Ocalan caseThe former foreign minister, Theodoros Pangalos, is to testify today before the Greek parliament's special committee of enquiry into the Ocalan affair.