|Sunday, 25 February 2024
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 99-05-11
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <ert.ntua.gr/>
 NATO planes destroy building in ValjevoNATO aircraft bombed and completely destroyed the police administration building in Valjevo (80 km southwest of Belgrade) during an air raid carried out yesterday, as broadcast by the local radio station Studio B. The building, in the middle of the city, had already suffered severe damage in an air raid carried out on Saturday night.
Sirens were also heard last night in seven cities in Serbia, including Belgrade. Pancevo, Novi Sad, Krakujevac, Kralgevo, Cacak and Nis came under NATO fire.
 Belgrade announces partial withdrawal of troops from KosovoThe Yugoslav issue has entered a new phase according to all indications, as Belgrade has announced that the withdrawal of Serbian military and police forces from Kosovo has started.
The announcement of a partial withdrawal was received with reservations by NATO, while the American state department announced that Belgrade should accept an agreement for the withdrawal of all Yugoslav forces from Kosovo. State department spokesman James Rubin, who made the announcement, clarified that the suspension of air raids will take place following an agreement on a full withdrawal.
Earlier, secretary of state Madeleine Albright had spoken of a half-measure, while Moscow's and the UN's reactions were positive, although the UN organization stressed that reports of a withdrawal should be verified.
NATO secretary general Javier Solana also reacted with reservation to the Yugoslav announcement, stressing he would wait for deeds to follow words.
As clarified by the Serbian side, the withdrawal started because the operations against the Kosovo Liberation Army have been completed. The announcement by the Yugoslav army also stressed that when an agreement is reached with the UN and Yugoslavia's territorial integrity is no longer at risk, military and police forces in Kosovo will be reduced to levels before the bombings.
 China demands formal apology from NATOChina has called on NATO to officially apologize for the barbarous bombardment of its embassy in Belgrade and punish all those responsible, the New China news agency reported. Earlier, Beijing had announced that it would discontinue talks with Washington on military and human rights issues, following the embassy bombing. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said yesterday once more that the embassy bombing in Belgrade was premeditated.
The UN security council convened last night behind closed doors at China's request, but did not formulate a resolution condemning the embassy bombing. Nevertheless, American president Bill Clinton apologized for the bombing.
The American senate information committee chairman last night attributed the bombing to an error by the CIA, clarifying the maps of Belgrade used for the air raid dated back to 1992.
Meanwhile Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin arrived in Beijing last night for a 24-hour visit, while he will have talks with American assistant secretary of state Strobe Talbot in Moscow tomorrow.
 Chinese anti-NATO demonstrations continueFor the third consecutive day yesterday, hundreds of Chinese students and citizens continued protest demonstrations outside the US and British embassies in Beijing, shouting anti-NATO slogans. American and British travel advisories warning their citizens to avoid visiting China have escalated the tension. Large anti-NATO demonstrations were staged in Taiwan and Singapore.
American ambassador in Beijing James Sasser, who is trapped in the embassy building, told Reuters he and his staff were burning confidential documents fearing the demonstrators would break through the police cordon and storm the embassy.
 Yugoslavia's recourse before International Court at The HagueThe International Court of Justice at The Hague is expected to hear Yugoslavia's recourse today for an end to the NATO strikes filed against the 10 NATO member states taking part in them. NATO has rejected the recourse.
Meanwhile 47.3% of the people of Belgrade have stopped buying foreign products since the raids began, according to a poll published in a Serbian newspaper, while 60% said that under the present circumstances buying Yugoslav products was an act of patriotism.
 Greece and Georgia see eye to eye on Kosovo crisisPresident of the republic Konstantinos Stefanopoulos arrived in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, yesterday, on a 3-day official visit. He was extended a particularly warm welcome by Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze, who ascertained full identity of view with the Greek position on a peaceful resolution of the Kosovo crisis. He said the Greek stand was the most clever and correct position.
Foreign undersecretary Grigoris Niotis and national economy undersecretary Alekos Baltas, who are accompanying president Stefanopoulos on his trip, are to sign today with their Georgian counterparts an agreement on judiciary assistance in criminal and civil law cases and another one on avoiding double taxation on income and capital.
 Archbishop of Greece lashes out against attacks on civiliansIn a speech at Athens College dedicated to Mother's Day, Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece yesterday launched a fresh verbal attack against the powerful of the earth who carry out air raids on Yugoslavia. He stressed that those who launch attacks against civilians are attacking the human image, mothers and children.
The Archbishop also referred to Greece's demographic problem and once more condemned abortions and sexual promiscuity.
 Greece to participate in Balkan reconstructionDefence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in Bremen, where he is taking part in the sessions of the Western European Union, that the bombings in Yugoslavia should stop.
Furthermore, Greece is to participate directly and actively, because of its geographic position, in the economic and political reconstruction of the Balkans planned by the EU after the end of the war. The EU ECOFIN ministers' council has endorsed a proposal by Greek national economy minister Yannos Papantoniou for Greece's participation both in the planning and implementation of reconstruction projects, in its capacity as an EU member state with a special relationship to the Balkans.
 Greek culture minister appeals to UNESCOGreek culture minister Elisavet Papazoi and the Central Archaeological Council have made demarches to UNESCO general director Federico Mallor for the preservation of Yugoslavia's cultural monuments. At Greece's request, Mr Mallor issued an announcement calling for respect for International Law obligations and demanding that all warring sides show consideration for the cultural heritage of the Balkans and protect museums, monuments, libraries and other sites bearing witness to the history of the country.
 6th Inter-Balkan meeting in ThessalonikiThe 6th Inter-Balkan meeting opened in Thessaloniki yesterday. Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis will have contacts with his Albanian and Skopjan counterparts Panteli Maiko and Liubchko Georgevski. Mr Simitis will also have talks with visiting Portuguese prime minister Antonio Gutieres on the latest developments in Yugoslavia.
Opposition New Democracy party leader Kostas Karamanlis will also address the Inter-Balkan meeting.
In the meantime, Greece is undertaking an important role in the energy sector in the Balkans after the signing of an agreement by development minister Evangelos Venizelos, according to which the Greek Oil company is taken over the OKTA oil refineries of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, while the METON technical company is to build the oil pipeline between Skopje and Thessaloniki.
After the signing of the agreement, FYROM prime minister Liubchko Georgevski described Greece as a strategic economic partner and told Mr Venizelos that from now on Greek citizens will be able to visit the FYROM without a visa.
 No visas required for Greeks visiting USAThe American state department announced yesterday the American administration had decided that Greek citizens wishing to visit the USA would no longer be required to have a visa.
 Athens Stock Exchange down 0.87% yesterdayOn the Athens Stock Exchange, the general share price index dropped by 0.87% yesterday, closing at 4,002.05 units. In the parities, the US dollar was fixed at 304 drachmas, the Deutschmark at 166.927 drachmas and the euro at 326.480 drachmas.
Meanwhile finance undersecretary Yorgos Drys released figures showing public revenue in the first quarter of 1999 was accumulating at double the budget pace. The positive development has already created a surplus amounting to 143 billion drachmas.