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Macedonian Press Agency: Brief News in English, 99-05-11
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
BRIEF GREEK NEWS BULLETIN BY THE MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY
Thessaloniki, May 11, 1999
NEWS IN DETAIL
 GREEK PRESIDENT EMBARKS ON OFFICIAL VISIT TO ARMENIA
Yerevan, May 11 (MPA)The President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos is embarking on an official, two-day visit to Armenia today, at the invitation of the republic's leadership. President Stephanopoulos will hold talks with his Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharyan and the leaders of Armenian political parties. Tomorrow, the President will visit the memorial to the victims of the 1915 genocide of Armenians, where he will lay a commemorative wreath, and will also meet with representatives of Greek diaspora in Armenia.
On Thursday, a Greek hall will be inaugurated at the Yerevan State University’s library, which will contain books on history and sciences presented by Greece.
The University will bestowed upon the Greek President the honorary doctor degree. Greece and Armenia enjoy bilateral ties that date back centuries and centuries, according to Armenian Ambassador to Greece Arman Kirakosian. The framework of such relations is laid down in the 1996 treaty of friendship and cooperation between Armenia and Greece, followed by agreements which covered the entire spectrum of bilateral cooperation.
During President Stephanopoulos’ visit to Armenia, the two countries will sign agreements on double taxation and cooperation. A.F.
 GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SALUTES ATHENS POSITION ON KOSOVO
Tbilisi, May 11 (MPA)The President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos met with his Georgian counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze in Tbilisi yesterday and discussed bilateral ties, as well as Greek-Turkish relations.
Following a signing ceremony of a number of agreements on developing cooperation between the two countries, the two presidents gave a joint press conference where they both noted that the "especially warm" relations established between Georgia and Greece are called upon to ensure further prosperity of the two countries' peoples. Concerning the Kosovo crisis, President Shevardnadze said Athens had adopted a "wise and correct" stance on the Kosovo problem and underlined Greece's important contribution with regard to humanitarian aid. President Stephanopoulos told reporters that Greece and Georgia shared the view that the G8 draft agreement was the only way to find a solution "to this problem which is of grave concern to us". The Greek President expressed the hope that the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and military operations in Kosovo would stop so that the refugees may return home and a solution can be found to the crisis in the framework of autonomy for Kosovo within Yugoslavia's borders. A.F.
 PM MEETS WITH PORTUGUESE, FYROM, ALBANIAN COUNTERPARTS
Thessaloniki, May 11 (MPA)Greece’s Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to meet with his counterparts from Portugal, FYROM and Albania, Messrs. Antonio Guterres, Liupco Georgievski and Pandeli Majko, respectively, in Thessaloniki today.
The meetings are being held on the sidelines of the two-day, sixth annual Economic Forum. Mr. Simitis and the Portuguese Premier are to grant a joint press conference this morning. He and Mr. Guterres traveled to the monastic community of Mt. Athos yesterday, where they visited various monasteries. A.F.
 GREEK DEFENSE MINISTER ADDRESSES WEU MEETING
Bonn, May 11 (MPA)Greece’s Minister of National Defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos and alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis joined their counterparts of the European Union and the Western European Union (WEU) at a conference held in Bonn yesterday, where the participants examined ways for closer cooperation of the two organizations. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, Mr. Tsochatzopoulos reiterated the need for an end to NATO bombings in the wake of the G8 agreement and following the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.
Mr. Tsochatzopoulos stated that “it must be made clear that the continuation of the conflict, the continuation of bombings increases tension, creates unjustified problems and renders the smooth development of negotiations difficult," adding that "the tragic events concerning the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade illustrate in a tragic way how easily such a process can be blown apart." The WEU, considered the European Union defense appendage within NATO, is expected to become the basis of the European Union's military branch based on the Amsterdam Treaty, which is in effect since May 1. The WEU's 10 full members are Belgium, France, Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal, while 18 more countries participate in the organization as associate members or as observers. A.F.
 GREEK FM: PARTIAL WITHDRAWAL OF SERB TROOPS IS A FIRST STEP
Thessaloniki, May 11 (MPA)Greece’s Foreign Minister George Papandreou stated that Belgrade’s decision to partially withdraw Serb troops from Kosovo is a step in the right direction, adding that more such steps are awaited.
Addressing the Sixth Balkan Business Forum, presently held in Thessaloniki, Mr. Papandreou said that there a ray of light has emerged, but there’s still a long way ahead before a final solution is reached, adding that Greece will exert every effort in order to achieve a political resolution.
The Foreign Minister also announced that a conference will be held in Thessaloniki next month which will examine the humanitarian issues of the Yugoslav crisis. Greece, in cooperation with the United Nations, has undertaken the task of evaluating the humanitarian cases that have arisen both from the bombings in Yugoslavia and from the Kosovo refugee exodus.
Mr. Papandreou presented Greece’s plan of restructuring the Balkans after the war and stated that the country’s interests will be better served in a climate of cooperation and development. “Our aim is to eradicate the conflict-breeding grounds, hatred and religious wars, (transform) the welter of nationalities and minorities from being an obstacle and a source of fear, into a foundation of dynamism and creativity in the Balkans,” he said. Mr. Papandreou outlined Greece’s targets as follows:
*Support the development and stabilization of the Balkan economies.
*Ensure the transit transport of Greek products through the Balkan countries to central, Western and Eastern Europe.
*Provide the appropriate road infrastructure for the transport of Greek products through the Balkan countries.
*Create and strengthen the necessary economic and political conditions for the promotion of Greek ventures.
*Promote alternate linking routes with central Europe, both for securing the necessary trade routes, and as an additional means of attracting tourism. A.F.
 GREECE TO TAKE PART IN BALKAN RESTRUCTURING COMMITTEES
Athens, May 11 (MPA)Greece will directly and actively participate in the economic and political restructuring of the Balkan region, as planned by the European Union, given its geographical position, according to National Economy and Finance Misnter Yiannos Papantoniou. The participation proposal was tabled by Mr. Papantoniou during yesterday’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Council's (ECOFIN) meeting and was accepted by both the European Committee and the EU’s German-held presidency.
Greece will participate in the special experts committee which will prepare a report listing losses, capital necessary for restoration and the sources of the capital, as well as in the political committee which will undertake the directions and supervision of the planning's implementation. Mr. Papantoniou also pointed out to the Council that Greece is the sole EU country having economic repercussions from the crisis in Yugoslavia in specific sectors, such as tourism and exports, "which might not be huge but do exist and could lead, according to the extent of operations, to a revision of the 3.5 per cent growth rate predicted to 3 per cent." A.F.
 EU’S TOP ECONOMIC OFFICIALS LAUD GREEK ECONOMY’S COURSE
Brussels, May 11 (MPA)Two of the European Union’s top economic officials, German Finance Minister and ECOFIN council president Hans Eichel as well as European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Yves-Thibault de Silguy lauded the Greek economy’s performance during a press conference held after the Economic and Monetary Affairs Council's (ECOFIN) meeting held yesterday. "The Greek economy is doing very well and this is the common conviction of the '15', again confirmed today," Mr. Eichel said, underlining the special role Greece will be called on to play in efforts for the Balkan region's economic recovery after the end of the crisis. In turn, Mr. de Silguy, when asked about the possible negative repercussions the Kosovo crisis will have on the EU member-states, said that for the time being there have been no EU evaluations on repercussions. He said it was certain that, being a neighboring country, Greece was harmed more than the other EU member-states which, as he said, "will be taken into consideration when Greece's application for euro accession is evaluated. He stressed that the Greek economy is proceeding satisfactorily towards the fulfillment of Maastricht Treaty criteria for accession to the single currency, adding that there is no reason for hasty moves on the issue of Greece's accession to the final phase of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). A.F.
 SIXTH FORUM CONTINUES IN THESSALONIKI
Thessaloniki, May 11 (MPA)A major Balkan economic conference, an annual event held by the Federation of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE), is presently being held in Thessaloniki, where the participants are focusing on the situation in the Balkans a decade after the deregulation of markets.
Among today’s keynote speakers will be Greece’s Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Foreign Minister George Papandreou and National Economy Yiannos Papantoniou, FYROM’s Premier Liupcko Georgievski, as well as U.S. Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns. The event is co-organized by the Macedonia-Thrace Bank and the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce. A.F.
 NATO STRIKES INDUSTRIAL AND CIVIL SITES IN YUGOSLAVIA
Belgrade, May 11 (MPA)NATO aircraft attacked industrial and civil infrastructure sites throughout Yugoslavia last night, while Serb President Slobodan Milosevic announced the partial withdrawal of Yugoslavia forces from Kosovo. Meanwhile, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott is arriving in Moscow today for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and the Russian president's special envoy on Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin. Also today, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder goes on a one-day working visit to China. The visit will center on the situation in and outside Yugoslavia. A.F.
 US INVITES GREECE TO JOIN ITS “VISA WAIVER PILOT PROGRAM”
Athens, May 11 (MPA)The United States federal government has invited Greece to join its "Visa Waiver Pilot Program" (VWPP) along with Portugal, Singapore and Uruguay, a US embassy in Athens press release stated yesterday. The said program allows citizens of 30 other countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism for up to 90 days without a visa. The US State Department will announce the exact date on which visa-free travel may begin. In the case of Greece, the embassy release noted that there are some issues to be resolved, related to the Schengen Accord and passport services. A.F.
 NATO MEMBERS BEGIN DEFENDING THEIR POSITIONS AT THE HAGUE
The Hague, May 11 (MPA)Belgium, Canada and France were the first batch of NATO member-states to have disputed the authority of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the request filed by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that temporary protective measures be undertaken, that is, that NATO strikes be stopped.
According to the Croatian news agency HINA, representatives of the three countries argued that, since it is not a UN member, FRY could not call upon the statute of the ICJ in filing requests.
Moreover, Yugoslavia has not backed its claim about genocide with even one piece of evidence, the three countries stated.
They added that the granting of temporary protective measures would open a new opportunity for Yugoslavia to avoid its obligation towards reaching a peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis. A.F.
 CHERNOMYRDIN HOLDS TALKS IN BEIJING WITH CHINESE LEADERS
Beijing, May 11 (MPA)The Russian president's envoy on Yugoslavia, Viktor Chernomyrdin, said his talks with Chinese leaders had "gone normally."
Mr. Chernomyrdin visited Beijing yesterday in order to discuss solutions to the Balkan situation with China's President Jiang Zemin, Prime Minister Zhu Rongji and the State Council's Deputy Premier Qian Qichen. According to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass, Mr. Chernomyrdin’s talks with the Chinese leaders had shown that the stances of Russia and China on the Yugoslavia situation "are close or coincident."
Moscow and Beijing think that an immediate prerequisite for settlement of the Kosovo crisis is a stop to NATO's bombardment of Yugoslavia, with successive talks with assistance from the United Nations to be capped by a settlement resolution. During his meeting with the State Council's Deputy Premier, Mr. Chernomyrdin said that NATO's recent bombardment of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, "confirms that the policy from the position of force that is followed by the Western states, NATO is only impeding the negotiation process and is leading into a deadlock". He called the air strike on the embassy a "barbaric acts, adding that "now it is difficult to say why this has happened." A.F.
 ALBANIAN PM: SERB WITHDRAWAL OFFER IS AN ATTEMPT TO IMPRESS
Thessaloniki, May 11 (MPA)Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko dismissed Belgrade’s decision for a partial withdrawal of Serb troops from Kosovo as merely an attempt to impress public opinion.
Mr. Majko, who is presently in Thessaloniki for the Sixth Balkan Business Forum, said that the Serbs know well how to manipulate the media by creating a juxtaposition with the Albanian side and added that NATO must continue to raid Yugoslavia, since his country is paying the conflict’s highest toll. Referring to the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), the Albanian Premier said that it was founded as a result of the oppression and massacre taking place in Kosovo and added that it is closely tied to human values, while resisting genocide. A.F.
 ALBANIAN FM CHALLENGES SINCERITY OF SERB WITHDRAWAL OFFER
Thessaloniki, May 11 (MPA)Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo stated that the Yugoslav leadership’s decision for the partial withdrawal of Serb troops from Kosovo is not sufficient for meeting NATO’s demands.
Speaking to the Macedonian Press Agency, Mr. Milo challenged Belgrade’s sincerity by stating that, following the persecution of Albanians from Kosovo, the Serbs no longer need such a great number of troops in order to control the region.
Concerning the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), Mr. Milo said that it could be disarmed under terms, i.e. on the condition that an agreement will have been signed and enforced by all parties involved in the conflict, that Serb troops would fully withdraw from Kosovo and that NATO forces would be deployed in the region. A.F.