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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-03-30

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, 30/03/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek concerns over Kosovo unrest continue
  • Athens hopes for progress in Belgrade
  • Greece ready to provide refugee aid
  • Defence minister to visit Bucharest, Sofia, Skopje
  • American Archbishop calls for Easter truce
  • FM Papandreou to brief opposition leader
  • Anti-war rally scheduled for tonight
  • Athens denied Simitis-Demirel-Clinton meeting reports
  • Olympic files complaint against phone service
  • Four Chinese nationals arrested over waiter attack
  • Greek equities end moderately higher
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek concerns over Kosovo unrest continue

War has never resolved problems, on the contrary it has created them, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Tuesday when asked about the results so far of ongoing NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia. Replying to press questions about Greece's policy on the Kosovo crisis, Reppas said Greek initiatives had been "many and substantial", while, responding to another question, he noted that "there is no margin" at the present time for a fresh tour of Balkan capitals by Foreign Minister George Papandreou. Reppas said Papandreou had telephone conversations this morning with his British and Canadian counterparts, adding that the latter expressed Ottawa's interest in participating in humanitarian aid efforts. The spokesman said Papandreou's Russian and French counterparts were seeking contact with him.

Athens hopes for progress in Belgrade

Reppas expressed the hope that today's talks between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Russian Premier Yevgeni Primakov might result in momentum for tackling the Kosovo problem by political and peaceful means. Asked whether NATO had requested permission for 80,000 Alliance troops to pass through Greek territory, Reppas replied that "there is no such issue". He added that it was not in NATO's intentions to use such a high number of troops and that the size of the force presently deployed - just over 10,000 soldiers - "has reached the limit".

Greece ready to provide refugee aid

Referring to the issue of support for refugees, Reppas said that Greece was following guidelines that displaced persons should be assisted to remain as close to their homes as possible. "This is why Greece is providing econonic and material support to Albania and Skopje," he said. He said that Greece's borders were being effectively patrolled.

Defence minister to visit Bucharest, Sofia, Skopje

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos begins an official visit to Romania on Thursday, to be followed by talks in Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Although the visit to Romania was scheduled, Tsohatzopoulos will take the opportunity to have talks also in Sofia and Skopje within the framework of a Greek initiative to help resolve the Kosovo crisis. Tsohatzopoulos wil return to Athens on Saturday evening.

American Archbishop calls for Easter truce

Archbishop of North and South American Spyridon has pleaded for an Easter truce to hostilities in the Balkans in letters to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and U.S. President Bill Clinton, an ANA dispatch from Montreal reports. Spyridon called on Milosevic to show his foes that Catholic and Orthodox Easter in early April "can be an opportunity for peace in the region and for the cessation of violence by all warring parties". In a letter personally addressed to Clinton, Spyridon called on the U.S. President to cease NATO's offensive on Yugoslavia during the Easter celebrations. Spyridon asked Clinton to allow the Orthodox people of Serbia and the Catholic minority in Kosovo to "remember the days of the crucifixion and resurrection in peace". The break, he says, could provide an opportunity for dialogue to resume towards a political settlement.

FM Papandreou to brief opposition leader

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis will receive Foreign Minister George Papandreou at party headquarters on Tuesday afternoon for talks on the Kosovo crisis. Announcing the meeting, ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos reiterated the party's positions regarding the need for a political solution to the Kosovo problem. Spiliotopoulos criticised NATO's continuing bombardment of Yugoslav targets, saying "time and room" should be left for diplomatic efforts aimed at bringing the two sides to the negotiating table. Spiliotopoulos expressed the hope that an ongoing Russian initiative would bear fruit.

Anti-war rally scheduled for tonight

Thessaloniki's municipality of Kalamaria is organising a rally to protest NATO's air strikes against Yugoslavia on Tuesday evening. The rally is the latest in a series held in Athens, Thessaloniki and a number of other Greek cities to protest the Alliance's offensive. On Monday, Thessaloniki locals attended a rally and march to the U.S. consulate in the city. In Athens, also tonight, a silent all-night vigil has been organised for outside the U.S. Embassy.

Athens denied Simitis-Demirel-Clinton meeting reports

Greece on Tuesday denied that Prime Minister Costas Simitis would hold a meeting with Turkish President Suleyman Demirel and U.S. President Bill Clinton in Washington next month. "These reports are completely groundless, " government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. "The government is not dealing with any such eventuality." According to the reports, Simitis was scheduled to meet with the Turkish and U.S. heads of state while in Washington for the 50th anniversary conference of NATO members.

Olympic files complaint against phone service

Olympic Airways on Tuesday filed a complaint after it discovered a Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation call service was telling callers that all the national carrier's flights had been cancelled. Callers to 144, the civil aviation authority's information line, were told that all OA flights were cancelled due to schedule changes. OA said the information was completely false and that the misleading information had caused disruption of the airline's operations. The complaint calls for compensation to be extended and for a full investigation into the incident. A senior official at OTE, who would not be named, told the ANA that the problem appeared to have been caused by an OA employee. Attempts to find the employee on Tuesday were fruitless, according to the source, as she had called in sick.

Four Chinese nationals arrested over waiter attack

Four Chinese nationals were arrested early this morning for seriously injuring a waiter in an Athens bar, police said. A police spokesman said that the four men attacked the waiter at the "Playgirl" club in the Neos Kosmos suburb at 04.45 a.m., injuring him with an axe. The spokesman said they claimed that they attacked the waiter because he had allegedly overcharged them.

Greek equities end moderately higher

Equity prices ended a highly volatile session moderately higher on Tuesday supported by hopes that a crisis in Kosovo would not be prolonged or deteriorate. The general index ended 0.42 percent higher to 3,511.02 points after moving in a range of 125 points during the day. Traders said the outlook of the market remained positive due to favourable economic fundamentals and following a European Commission's opinion that Greece has fulfilled all Maastricht criteria for participation in EMU, although marginally the inflation criterion. The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.95 percent lower.

WEATHER

Unsettled weather will prevail throughout Greece on today with local showers and rainstorms. Winds variable, moderate. Athens will be rainy with temperatures ranging between 8-17C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 6-14C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          301.578
Pound sterling       488.183
Japanese yen (100)   250.738
French franc          49.300
German mark          165.348
Italian lira (100)    16.701
Irish Punt           410.624
Belgian franc          8.017
Luxembourg franc       8.017
Finnish mark          54.390
Dutch guilder        146.749
Danish kr.            43.628
Austrian sch.         23.501
Spanish peseta         1.943
Swedish kr.           36.158
Norwegian kr.         38.676
Swiss franc          202.720
Port. Escudo           1.613
Aus. dollar          190.256
Can. dollar          198.559
Cyprus pound         557.266
Euro                 323.392
(M.P.)
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