|Sunday, 25 February 2024
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 99-05-05
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <ert.ntua.gr/>
 Diplomatic moves for an end to Kosovo crisis</strong>While negotiations continue at diplomatic level to find a political solution to the Kosovo crisis, NATO continues to bomb Yugoslav targets.
At yesterday's meeting in New York between the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, and the Russian mediator, Viktor Chernomyrdin, agreement was reached concerning the despatch of an international military force to Kosovo. Talks are continuing on the force's composition and powers. Mr Chernomyrdin is returning to Moscow today instead of going to Belgrade as planned.
The American president, Bill Clinton, who is going to Brussels today for a meeting with the NATO secretary general, Javier Solana, says he is willing to explore any diplomatic settlement of the crisis in Yugoslavia. According to the American television channel NBC, President Clinton also intends to order the release of the two Yugoslav hostages being held in Albania and Germany.
According to a report in the newspaper, the Financial Times, the Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, is considering a proposal for the deployment in Kosovo of a lightly-armed international force to act as policemen in the region under the auspices of the United Nations. Forces from the NATO countries carrying out the present military operations against Yugoslavia will not participate in the peacekeeping contingent.
The Italian prime minister, Massimo D'Alema, said yesterday he believed the mediators were very close to achieving a political solution to the crisis. The German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, said he hoped a solution would be reached within this month.
The former Greek foreign minister, Karolos Papoulias, is going to Belgrade today for talks with the Serbian side, while the leader of the Coalition of the Left Wing and Progress, Nikos Konstantopoulos, is visiting Tirana where he will have contacts with Albania's political leaders.
Extensive power cuts in Yugoslavia
Meanwhile the centre of the Yugoslav capital was plunged into darkness again in the early hours of this morning after NATO planes bombed Serbian electricity plants. Explosions were heard in the area around the power plant at Obrenovac. Novi Sad radio station, however, attributes the cuts to the Serbian electricity corporation's attempts to repair earlier damage to the network by NATO strikes.
The American Pentagon has announced that an American F-16 jet fighter yesterday shot down a Yugoslav MiG-29 aircraft in Yugoslav air space, while a second plane was destroyed on the ground. Serbian television last night showed the wreckage of a plane which it said was an American Alpha-10 shot down on 2nd May.
Albanian television, meanwhile, has accused the Serbs of the mass murder of 180 Albanians near Drnica, in Kosovo.
Another American Apache helicopter has crashed in Albania while on a training flight early this morning, approximately 75 km from the military air base at Rina. An American army spokesman said the helicopter did not come under enemy fire. There is no information so far about the helicopter's crew.
American Senate rejects troops despatch to Yugoslavia
Reuters news agency reports that the American Senate has rejected by 78 votes to 22 a proposal which would give the go-ahead for the deployment of ground forces in Yugoslavia. President Clinton does not have the power to take decisions on his own concerning the deployment of ground forces or other ways of achieving NATO's goals.
Greek government officials optimistic about end to crisis
After meeting with the Greek president, Kostis Stefanopoulos, in Athens yesterday to brief him on developments in Kosovo, the foreign minister, Giorgos Papandreou, expressed reserved optimism about the diplomatic moves being made to achieve a political solution to the Yugoslav crisis.
The Greek defence minister, Akis Tsohatzopoulos, made a similar assessment in a speech in Thessaloniki, while the transport minister, Tasos Mantelis, who is visiting Skopje, said Greece's stand on the Kosovo crisis was from the start that a peaceful political solution should be found.
Meanwhile the Greek government agrees with the view put forward on Monday by the president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, that an international conference should be convened to discuss the situation in the Balkans.
Inconclusive report about toxic substances in Greece
Two Greek university professors submitted their findings to the Technical Chamber of Greece yesterday. An analysis of their measurements received from laboratories in Germany shows that dioxine and klophen levels in the Xanthi region of northern Greece are now 15 times higher than on the day the NATO operations started.
Several scientists disagreed with the conclusions drawn from the measurements and in the next few days an official report will be handed over to the government concerning the impact on the environment of the war in neighboring Yugoslavia, after more measurements are made and assessed.
Meanwhile the national economy minister, Iannos Papantoniou, has said Athens will ask for compensation from the European Union for the losses sustained by the Greek economy as a result of the war in Yugoslavia.
Prime minister inaugurates computer centre
Prime minister Kostas Simitis yesterday inaugurated the new building of the finance ministry's computer centre.
In his speech, the prime minister underlined that the TAXIS computer programme used by the finance ministry will help combat tax evasion and will contribute to simpler procedures and better services for taxpayers.
He said the programme will strengthen the economy and will offer the means for political initiatives in sectors with high developmental and social needs. Mr Simitis also said that a social dialogue aimed at less taxes for low and medium incomes was presently under way.
Slight drop on Athens Stock Exchange yesterday
The general share price index on the Athens Stock Exchange dropped by 0.79% yesterday, closing at 3,776.19 points.
In the parities, the US dollar was fixed at 307.54 drachmas, the Deutschmark at 166.272 drachmas and the euro at 325.2 drachmas.
China interested in Cyprus solution
China has shown interest in a Cyprus solution, the speaker of the Cypriot house of representatives, Spyros Kyprianou, said yesterday after a meeting with a Chinese parliamentary delegation visiting Cyprus at the invitation of the Cypriot house.
Mr Kyprianou said the aim of the visit was to strengthen bonds between the two parliaments and by extension between the peoples of China and Cyprus.
Meeting to discuss Euro-elections
Prime minister Kostas Simitis has convened a meeting at the Maximos Mansion in Athens today to discuss the ruling PASOK party's course in view of the forthcoming Euro-elections.
Taking part will be interior and public administration minister Vasso Papandreou, defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, environment and public works minister Kostas Laliotis and PASOK secretary Kostas Skandalidis.
Funds for road-construction projects
The environment ministry has earmarked 5.5 billion drachmas for road projects in the regions of Arcadia, Ahaia, Aitoloacarnania and Arta and for anti-flood projects in the regions of Fokis and Heraclion, Crete.
Bank employees negotiate 35-hour working week
Negotiations between the bank employees' union and representatives of banks will be resumed today on a 35-hour working week and a new collective labour contract.
Final match of Greek Soccer Cup tonight
The final match of the Greek Soccer Cup will be held at the Olympic Stadium in Athens this evening between Olympiakos of Piraeus and Panathinaikos of Athens.