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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-17

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou to propose temporary truce in Yugoslav conflict
  • [02] Greek Alternate FM calls on Turkish Cypriots to attend EU accession talks
  • [03] Tripartite meeting in Sofia ends with release of joint communique
  • [04] Greece, Bulgaria say will submit joint proposal for reconstruction of Balkans
  • [05] Athens denies providing facilities for NATO aircraft
  • [06] Tsohatzopoulos advises Turkey to 'display greater attention to maps'
  • [07] Simitis addresses Euroelection rallies in Komotini, Kalamata
  • [08] Karamanlis inaugurates ND's Euroelections campaign in Patra
  • [09] Constantopoulos says Yugoslav war will be main issue in Euroelections
  • [10] Police find car used to launch rocket attacks on banks
  • [11] Police exchange fire with racketeers

  • [01] Papandreou to propose temporary truce in Yugoslav conflict

    Athens, 17/05/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou will propose a temporary 48-hour truce to give diplomacy time to work towards a final settlement of the Yugoslav conflict in his meetings today in Paris.

    Mr. Papandreou, in an interview in Sunday's Eleftherotypia, said he would make the same recommendation to Washington and Moscow.

    Belgrade would have to give a clear response during the truce, Mr. Papandreou said, and the period would also give the UN Security Council time to issue a resolution and for work to begin on the agreement drafted by the G8 two weeks ago.

    "It is a last chance for peace," Mr. Papandreou said.

    The Greek foreign minister is due in Paris today for talks with his French counterpart Hubert Vedrine. Tomorrow, he will meet with Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, recently come to the fore as a possible leading mediator in efforts aimed at a peaceful settlement.

    In statements in Sofia on Saturday, where he attended a tripartite meeting of the Romanian, Bulgarian and Greek foreign ministers, Mr. Papandreou said the three countries were working on ensuring a quick end to the war and contributing to the consolidation of permanent stability and peace in the Balkans.

    "We need a quick political solution," Mr. Papandreou told a news conference.

    He reiterated Greece's reservations vis-a-vis NATO's air strikes on Yugoslavia and Athens' refusal to participate in any way in hostilities.

    Greece, he reminded the reporters, was providing administrative support to the Alliance's peacekeeping forces in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in the framework of Athens' efforts to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

    Greece has been actively involved in the efforts to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe of the refugees by organising refugee camps, medical care and humanitarian assistance both in Albania and FYROM.

    All the countries of the region are aware of the need for the refugees to return to their homes, he said, and share the view that multi-ethnic communities in the Balkans must be supported.

    However, he added, any attempt to change existing borders in the Balkans will act against creating such communities and deal the death blow not only to peace in the region but to European unification.

    Mr. Papandreou said the Sofia meeting - the fifth such tripartite meeting - has sent a clear message that the Balkans should not be the forgotten man of Europe.

    "The European Union and the entire international community, the day after the end of the war, must be actively involved in ensuring stability, economic prosperity and permanent peace which will guarantee the quick inclusion of the region in European uni fication," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Greek Alternate FM calls on Turkish Cypriots to attend EU accession talks

    NICOSIA, 17/05/1999 (ANA - G. Leonidas /CNA)

    Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis on Saturday called on Turkish Cypriots to accept an invitation from the Cyprus government to participate in accession talks with the European Union (EU).

    Mr. Kranidiotis was speaking at a business meeting for Greek and Greek Cypriot business persons, organised here on Saturday by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the largest-selling daily newspaper "Fileleftheros".

    The Greek official stressed the need for the resumption of a dialogue to settle the Cyprus problem and underlined that the US has an important role to play for a solution to be reached.

    Mr. Kranidiotis also referred to the Kosovo crisis and the need for a peaceful settlement to the problem. "UN resolutions remain the only legal framework for a settlement to the Cyprus question," he said, and noted that the Greek Cypriot side "has made it clear it is ready to respond positively to any serious effort for the resumption of talks." Welcoming efforts by the organisation of the seven most developed countries plus Russia (G8) to this end, he said the dialogue must be based on

    UN resolutions stipulating for the establishment of a federal state, with one sovereignty and international personality.

    "In efforts for a just solution we recognise that the role of the US is especially important," Mr. Kranidiotis said, adding "we have assu-rances that they wish to help". The Greek official said the US must not only express verbal support but must also act and called on Washington to "exert pressure on Ankara and help UN efforts".

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, backed by Ankara, is refusing to participate in peace talks unless the illegal regime unilaterally declared in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974 is recognised.

    Mr. Denktash also proposed the establishment of a "confederation of two states", a demand rejected by the UN, the Cyprus government, Greece and all other key players in the peace effort as it is contrary to UN resolutions.

    Referring to Cyprus' bid to join the EU, Mr. Kranidiotis said the Republic is now trying to enforce the acquis communautaire in the areas under its control and described the accession course which got underway last year as a way to modernise the econo my and society.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Tripartite meeting in Sofia ends with release of joint communique

    SOFIA, 17/05/1999 (ANA - B.Borisov)

    The fifth successive meeting of the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania ended in Sofia on Saturday with the issuing of a joint communique in support of well-intentioned dialogue, peace and cooperation in the Balkans .

    "What we have shown here, is that even in the midst of a crisis, we can work together. We here in the Balkans can show just how strong our will is for cooperation and peace. And this tripartite meeting is just an example, there are of course other examples which reflect the will of all of us that the Kosovo crisis should not create prospects for any further eruption of nationalism and new conflicts...," Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou told a news conference.

    During the two-day meeting, Mr. Papandreou and the foreign ministers of Bulgaria and Romania, Nadezhda Mihailova and Andrei Plesu respectively, exchanged views on a wide range of issues of common interest related to security and stability in SE Europe.

    They also discussed the ongoing Kosovo crisis and its repercussions for the security of the greater region, according to the joint communique.

    The three ministers expressed their firm support for the G8 draft peace agreement for Kosovo and called on Belgrade to accept it.

    Lastly, the ministers called on the international community to continue its efforts to reinforce the humanitarian programmes for the Kosovo refugees and said the safe return to their homes should be included as a clause in any provisional political fram ework agreement for the peaceful settlement of the crisis.

    According to the communique, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania will continue to actively participate in humanitarian missions and coordinate their efforts in this respect.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Greece, Bulgaria say will submit joint proposal for reconstruction of Balkans

    Athens, 17/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greece and Bulgaria said on Saturday that they would submit a joint proposal for the reconstruction of the Balkans following talks in Thessaloniki between Macedonia-Thrace Minister Yiannis Magriotis and Bulgaria's Minister for Commerce and Tourism, Valent in Vasilev.

    The talks covered issues related to the further development of cross-border cooperation and the situation in the strife-torn Serb province of Kosovo.

    Mr. Magriotis said both he and Mr. Vasilev had ascertained the need for an end to NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia and the attainment of a peaceful solution in combination with economic development on the basis of a major reconstruction plan for the greater region.

    Mr. Vasilev said after the meeting that Greece and Bulgaria had an important role to jointly play as a stabilising force in the region. He added that in his talks with Mr. Magriotis as well as in meetings with government officials in Athens, he had found understanding for his country's request for Greek support for Bulgaria's efforts to join the European Union.

    Unidentified suspects early yesterday hurled a cocktail molotov bomb at a building in Exarchia, Athens, housing the 4th and 8th tax offices, causing damage to the entrance. The blast occurred at the intersection of Benaki and Koleti streets at 3:45 a .m.

    In another incident, a home-made explosive device composed of gas cannisters exploded at the entrance to the Ellinikon senior high school at 2:30 a.m., causing slight damage to the front door. The explosion took place at the intersection of Ethnarchou Makariou and Aristotelous streets.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Athens denies providing facilities for NATO aircraft

    The government on Saturday categorically denied a newspaper report claiming that Athens had given permission for an air corridor in Greek airspace to be used by NATO warplanes for missions over Yugoslavia.

    "No facilities of any kind have been given to any warplane of any NATO country, let alone an air corridor in Greek airspace," Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said.

    The minister dismissed the report in Saturday's edition of the Athens daily "To Vima" as being "the result of conjecture by many, in view of the apparent escalation of (NATO) operations, owing to the delay in efforts for a diplomatic solution (to the Kosovo crisis)".

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos clarified that he had never discussed the issue of providing facilities for NATO aircraft with US Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns.

    "To Vima" claimed Greece on Friday gave its approval for the air corridor "Green-8" to be used by NATO aircraft, including Turkish warplanes, for missions over Yugoslavia.

    The newspaper said it was the first time Athens had provided such facilities to NATO since the Alliance began its aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia on March 24.

    The newspaper report was also denied by government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, who said the claims in the article "bore no relation to reality".

    "The issue (of Greece providing facilities) has never been put either to Mr. Tsohatzopoulos or Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis. Nor has any such decision been taken by the Greek government, whose position is known," Mr. Reppas said.

    Athens has repeatedly stated that it will not provide facilities to NATO forces for their military operations in Yugoslavia.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, who appealed for an intensification of efforts "by all" to find a peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis, was also asked by reporters about the possibility of the Hellenic Navy destroyer "Themistocles" taking part in NATO searches of vessels suspected of breaking the EU oil embargo on Yugoslavia.

    He clarified that the "Themistocles" was not taking part in the conflict in Yugoslavia but was simply part of the NATO naval force in the Mediterranean.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Greece's stance would be determined once a decision has been taken by NATO to conduct such searches.

    He added that the "problem" consisted in the legality of searching vessels and expressed the opinion that there were no legal grounds for justifying such action.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Tsohatzopoulos advises Turkey to 'display greater attention to maps'

    Athens, 17/05/1999 (ANA)

    Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Saturday that Turkish officials had earned themselves "a spring shower" by helping to publicise a marriage on the uninhabited rocky islet of Plati.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also advised Turkey to "display greater attention to maps and proposals for provoking crises", given that "the present period lends itself to joint cooperation for confronting the crisis in the Balkans".

    Athens on Friday dismissed Turkey's reaction to reports of a plan by a Greek couple to marry and settle on the islet of Plati in the eastern Aegean.

    "Greece's positions on the Aegean are well-known and remain steadfast. The Greek government safeguards national interests. In any case, a wedding cannot constitute grounds for political discussion and even more so, a field for creating problems," govern ment spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    The reports, aired by several Greek TV channels, said the couple planned to marry and settle on Plati, which lies between the Greek islands of Kalymnos and Pserimos.

    The Turkish foreign ministry reacted by charging that Greece was aiming to change "the status of geographical formations" in the Aegean.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Simitis addresses Euroelection rallies in Komotini, Kalamata

    Athens, 17/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Saturday that the principles of good relations between neighbours and cooperation could only be to the benefit of the peoples in the region and particularly the Greeks and Turks.

    "If Turkey brings its policy into line with international law, if it proceeds with democratisation, if it respects and applies European institutions, then Turkey will find Greece willing to help in its European prospects," Mr. Simitis told a rally of party supporters in the northern Greek town of Komotini.

    But he warned Ankara that "any opportunistic attempt at tension will fail" and that "sovereign rights from Thrace and the Aegean to Cyprus" are not up for negotiation.

    Mr. Simitis said the government's careful policies in relation to the Balkans crisis had made Greece "a credible country both for its allies and its Balkan neighbours".

    "Greece is an oasis of stability and security," he said.

    He said calls from some opposition parties for Greece to leave both NATO and the EU were not to be taken seriously.

    "We will not gamble with the fortunes of this country," the prime minister said. "This country will not find itself involved in adventures."

    Mr. Simitis also addressed a rally in Kalamata, south Peloponnese, yesterday, saying that the June elections were crucial.

    "The people's vote must guarantee stability and continuity in the country's course. It's no time for experimentations," Mr. Simitis said.

    The prime minister made particular reference to health and social security issues, underlining that a programme of hospital infrastructure is now being materialised throughout the country, totalling 200 billion drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Karamanlis inaugurates ND's Euroelections campaign in Patra

    Athens, 17/05/1999 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis inaugurated his party's pre-election campaign in light of the June 13 Euroelections with an address to party supporters in downtown Patra on Saturday night, making special reference to national issues and accusing the government of having a passive position and saying yes to everything.

    Speaking on the country's national issues, he spoke of the need for national consensus and lofty ideals, the restriction of words and an increase in work.

    "Unfortunately, from the humiliation experienced at Imia (the rocky islet in the Aegean Sea where a crisis occurred between Greece and Turkey in January 1996) until the retreat at Madrid, from the degradation of the case of the S-300 missiles up to the Ocalan fiasco, our foreign policy is an endless series of regrettable concessions, amateurisms and mistakes," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Constantopoulos says Yugoslav war will be main issue in Euroelections

    Athens, 17/05/1999 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos said in an address to his party's Central Committee yesterday the main issue in the June 13 Euroelections will be the war in Yugoslavia, adding that the position of governments, parties and political figures on the war will constitute a criterion.

    Criticising the government, Mr. Constantopoulos said Greece cannot passively watch the development of this tragedy and preoccupy itself with what will happen after the war.

    He said the Coalition should be proud that it was the first in the world to break the isolation NATO attempted to impose on Yugoslavia, with the visit he himself paid to Belgrade.

    Following a discussion held at the Central Committee, it was decided that stage director Nikos Koundouros and actresses Dina Konsta and Eva Kotamanidou will be included in the party's ticket for the Euroelections. The ticket will be headed by Alekos Alavanos and Mihalis Papayiannakis.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Police find car used to launch rocket attacks on banks

    Athens, 17/05/1999 (ANA)

    Police on Saturday found the car used by terrorists nine days ago to launch rocket attacks against three foreign banks in Piraeus.

    The white Toyota Corolla was found double-parked next to the Tzaneio hospital in one of the busiest parts of the port city.

    The car was fitted with a roof rack on which three improvised rocket launchers had been placed, covered with corrugated paper.

    The launchers, fashioned from aluminium pipes each about one metre in length, were fitted with devices which allowed the terrorists to fire the rockets from inside the car by means of an attached cable, possibly while the vehicle was moving.

    The launchers were fastened to the roof-rack by strong wire.

    A traffic policeman noticed the car, double-parked next to another vehicle which was covered with a protective hood, at 8 am local time on Saturday morning.

    Special security measures had been taken in the area owing to a visit by Prime Minister Costas Simitis who was due to inaugurate the new wing of the hospital.

    The police said the car, which had false license plates, had been stolen from the Athens district of Patissia on May 4, two days before the rocket attack against branches of the Chase Manhattan Bank, the Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) and Midland Bank on the port's seafront avenue.

    The rocket fired at Chase Manhattan caused extensive damage to the building but the other two rockets failed to detonate.

    No one was injured in the attacks.

    The police believe the attacks to be the work of the deadly "November 17" terrorist group. They said the 2.36 inch anti-tank rockets used in Piraeus were most probably from a batch stolen from an army camp near Larissa in 1989, some of which have since been used in attacks claimed by the notorious urban guerrilla group.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Police exchange fire with racketeers

    Athens, 17/05/1999 (ANA)

    Five people - including two policemen - were injured early yesterday when police exchanged fire with a group of people suspected of involvement in protection rackets.

    Police officers from the extortion squad have been working in the seaside suburb of Alimos for the past month to uncover rival gangs extorting protection money from local shopowners.

    Police said the incident occurred at around 2.40 a.m. at Independence Square when three men opened fire on the two officers when they identified themselves.

    The two officers had called for back-up earlier when they noticed the three acting suspiciously.

    The two officers and two of the men were injured during the shoot-out, while another two of the group were able to escape. Later, at around 4 a.m., another man sought treatment for a wound to the shoulder at the Voula Asklipiou Hospital and was placed under arrest. All of the injured men were reported to be in a satisfactory condition.

    Police said one of the two injured men was Theodoros Grigorakou, whose home had recently been bombed and whose brother, Nikos, had been injured when his booby-trapped car exploded in the suburb of Ilioupoli.

    They said they believed they caught the gang as they prepared to attack a rival gang. Police found a 9mm gun and two automatic weapons at the scene.

    President Stephanopoulos attends festive religious events in Larisa President Kostis Stephanopoulos inaugurated the Gravia Hostel yesterday, after its recent restoration, and attended events commemorating the 178th anniversary of the battle fought at the site where Odysseus Androutsos defended the hostel with about 180 fighters.

    On Saturday, President Stephanopoulos was proclaimed an honourary citizen of the city of Larisa, central Greece, and was given the gold key to the city by Larisa Mayor Costas Tsanakoulis. President Stephanopoulos, the first President to visit the city i n the post-war era, was paying an official visit at the invitation of municipal authorities to attend festive religious events concerning the city's patron saint Agios Ahilios on Saturday.

    Addressing a special Municipal Council session, President Stephanopoulos said that Greece does not belong to the West but the West belongs to Greece since the principles on which it is based and functions are Greek.

    Athens News Agency

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