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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-03-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 09/03/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • FM Papandreou on whistle-stop Balkan tour
  • Athens' position on terrorism
  • Karamanlis interviewed on CNN
  • Communist Party protests foreign troops
  • Greece supports Czech EU efforts
  • Papantoniou: time for unity in ruling party
  • Deputy Development Minister in Cyprus
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

FM Papandreou on whistle-stop Balkan tour

Foreign Minister George Papandreou will meet with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic during his whistle-stop tour of Balkan capitals, beginning on Wednesday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. Papandreou is undertaking his two-day tour ahead of a new round of talks on the strife-torn Yugoslav province of Kosovo at Rambouillet, France. He will meet with Milosevic in Belgrade on Thursday, Reppas said. Papandreou will begin his tour with Skopje and Tirana on Wednesday, before travelling to Bucharest, Sofia and Belgrade on Thursday. Reppas said the foreign minister's trip was an independent initiative but was known to other countries and was an indication of Greece's interest. "We must be participants and not just observers," Reppas said. "The crisis in Kosovo affects us more than many others, as if it worsens the consequences for Greece will be significant."

Athens' position on terrorism

Greece neither rates nor evaluates, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Tuesday when asked by reporters about the pressure being exerted on Athens to recognise that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is a terrorist organisation. "We do not subject beliefs or views to control," Reppas said, adding that "but we do have an opinion about acts of violence, which we always condemn, regardless of their origin." Asked to comment on statements Monday by US State Department spokesman James Rubin, who welcomed Prime Minister Costas Simitis' condemnation of terrorism during his most recent address in parliament last week, Reppas said it was "in principle positive that statements by US officials concurred with Greek positions on terrorism". Reppas added however his surprise that Simitis' statement had provoked comment in the United States, "in view of the fact that it is not a new position".

Karamanlis interviewed on CNN

Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said today the Greek people felt humiliated over the Greek government's "mishandling" of the Ocalan affair, but added that Greece "has never incited and has always rejected all forms of terrorism from wherever they originated, and this must be made clear to everyone". In a televised interview with CNN during his ongoing visit to the US and asked whether Athens should have granted Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan political asylum, Karamanlis replied that ND shared the Greek government's view that the Kurdish issue should "not be added to the long list of Greek-Turkish differences".

Communist Party protests foreign troops

A group of Communist Party of Greece (KKE) protestors today blocked a train transporting NATO tanks from the northern Greek port of Thessaloniki to neighbouring FYROM, by sitting on the railway lines, police said. Police said the protestors -- KKE cadres and followers -- blocked the railway line for more than an hour on the outskirts of Thessaloniki, obstructing a convoy of German tanks headed for the NATO force stationed in FYROM and forcing the train to return to the port. The demonstrators warned they would repeat and possibly escalate their protests as more NATO arms were expected to pass through the northern Greek capital headed for FYROM for eventual deployment in Kosovo. A KKE spokesman, George Kavatzas, said that the protest was "symbolic", adding that "the mobilisations will intensify in the coming days". Another KKE cadre was detained at Litochoro, Pieria yesterday while trying to hang a banner with anti-American slogans on the beach where American tanks were being disembarked to join a Greek-US military exercise. He was later released.

Greece supports Czech EU efforts

Greece is very supportive of the Czech Republic's attempts to join the Euroepan Union, Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said on Tuesday. Kraniditios was speaking after meeting with visiting Czech European Affairs Minister, Pavel Telicka. "The Czech Republic has made important progress in harmonising its national legislation to Community laws," Kranidiotis said. "Greece is prepared to extend technical support to the Czech Republic and work with it in the exchange of experts who can help Prague's moves towards the EU," he said. Kranidiotis suggested that candidate countries for EU accession be included in talks at the EU on a common foreign and security policy.

Papantoniou: time for unity in ruling party

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papandoniou said on Tuesday that some members of the ruling party were rushing to judgement and called on all to work towards victory in June's European Parliament elections. "This is not the time for defeatism. Defeatist statements do the (Panhellenic Socialist) Movement a disservice," Papandoniou said after his meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on the state of the economy. Referring to recent comments by Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos that the premier's hold on the ruling party would be in doubt if PASOK came out of June's European Parliament elections with a poor showing, Papandoniou said these statements were mistimed. "It is time to rally for PASOK, for unity in PASOK with the central and exclusive goal being victory both in June 1999 Euro elections and national elections in 2000. It is with this mindset that we should be heading towards Euro elections, not with an attitude of defeatism," he said.

Deputy Development Minister in Cyprus

Development Undersecretary Anna Diamantopoulou will visit Cyprus on Wednesday at the invitation of the Socialist Party (EDEK), according to an ANA despatch from Nicosia. Diamantopoulou will speak tomorrow at an event organised by the Women's Socialist Movement on the subject of "Man and Woman equals two". She will also meet with Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nikos Rolandis before returning to Athens on Thursday morning.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather will prevail throughout Greece today with scattered clouds in Thrace and the islands of the eastern Aegean Sea. Winds northwesterly, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 7-16C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3-13C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          292.759
Pound sterling       470.605
Japanese yen (100)   240.778
French franc          48.673
German mark          163.243
Italian lira (100)    16.489
Irish Punt           405.396
Belgian franc          7.915
Luxembourg franc       7.915
Finnish mark          53.698
Dutch guilder        144.881
Danish kr.            42.966
Austrian sch.         23.203
Spanish peseta         1.919
Swedish kr.           35.645
Norwegian kr.         37.260
Swiss franc          200.592
Port. Escudo           1.592
Aus. dollar          183.664
Can. dollar          192.706
Cyprus pound         552.842
Euro                 319.275
(M.P.)
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