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Macedonian Press Agency: Brief News in English, 99-03-31
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, March 31, 1999
NEWS IN DETAIL
 NATO CONTINUES TO RAID YUGOSLAVIA, ATTACKS IN THE NIGHT
Belgrade, March 31 (MPA)NATO continued to raid Yugoslavia throughout the night, with Tomahawk missiles targeting the outskirts of Belgrade, as well as the city of Prishtina.
NATO ambassadors have agreed to enlarge the list of targets, this time including downtown Belgrade.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed to the international community to offer more humanitarian aid to assist with the Kosovo refugee crisis.
According to UNHCR reports, the number of refugees who have fled Kosovo is presently estimated at 120,000. The Yugoslav government 's vice-president Vuk Drascovic lashed against NATO, holding the Alliance responsible for "a crime against humanity." A.F.
 PRIMAKOV-MILOSEVIC TALKS LEAD TO NOWHERE
Belgrade, March 31 (MPA)Russian Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov returned "empty-handed" from his talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic held in Belgrade yesterday.
As a result, United States President Bill Clinton stated that ``we must not allow, if we have the ability to stop it, ethnic cleansing or genocide anywhere we can stop it, particularly at the edge of Europe. ''
Mr. Clinton also said ``the NATO air campaign is designed to raise the price of that policy ... For a sustained period, he will see that his military will be seriously diminished, key military infrastructure destroyed, the prospect of international support for Serbia's claim to Kosovo increasingly jeopardized."
Responding to Mr. Milosevic's overture, who said that he will withdraw his troops from Kosovo, after political negotiations, on the condition that NATO cease the raids, German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that the Yugoslav leader's proposal does not constitute a premise for a political solution. A.F.
 GREEK PARLIAMENT TO DEBATE KOSOVO THIS EVENING
Athens, March 31 (MPA)The latest developments in Kosovo and NATO's raids over Yugoslavia will be discussed in a parliamentary debate to be held tonight at a political leaders level.
Earlier, the Permanent Committee of Foreign Affairs and Defense will also convene in order to review the initiatives to be undertaken by Greece, which will provide financial assistance amounting to 2.5 billion drachmas to Yugoslavia, FYROM and Albania.
Yesterday, the Minster of Foreign Affairs George Papandreou briefed the leader of the main opposition party Kostas Karamanlis on the latest developments in Kosovo. A.F.
 PRESIDENT OF PANAMA ON OFFICIAL VISIT TO GREECE
Athens, March 31 (MPA)The President of Panama Ernesto Perez Balladares will embark on a three-day official visit to Greece today, at the invitation of his Greek counterpart, President Kostis Stephanopoulos.
During his stay in Athens, President Balladares will be received by the Greek President, Prime Minister Kostas Simitis and the President of the Hellenic Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis.
The Mayor of Athens Dimitris Avramopoulos will bestow upon the Panamanian President the city's Gold Medal. A.F.
 EUROPEAN COMMISSION OPTIMISTIC OVER GREECE'S EMU ENTRANCE
Brussels, March 31 (MPA)In its biannual report on the 1998 economies of the European Union's member-states, the European Commission has forecast inflation rates of 2.1 in 1999 and 1.9 per cent in 2000 for Greece, which means that the country would be meeting one of the two remaining criteria (the other being a convergence of interest rates) for participation in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) by the year 2001.
The report, which also provides forecasts for 1999, states that "the performance of the Greek economy continued to improve: GDP growth accelerated while significant progress was achieved in curbing inflation and correcting fiscal imbalances...
"Investment activity continued to be strong while exports contributed to an acceleration in real output to an estimated rate of economic growth of 3.6 per cent," the report added.
"The situation in the labor market improved in 1998, albeit marginally, and the unemployment rate resumed a slow downward path...Slowing demand and labor costs assisted the containment of inflation in the post- devaluation period. On average consumer prices rose by 4.8 per cent in 1998, down from 5.5 per cent in 1997.
"The general government deficit in 1999 is forecast to be 2.1 per cent of GDP...The primary surplus is expected to reach 6.5 per cent of GDP in 1999 and 2000, thus contributing to a further decline in the debt ratio in both years." A.F.
 PRESIDENT OF CHINA'S PEOPLE'S NATIONAL CONGRESS IN ATHENS
Athens, March 31 (MPA)The President of China's People's National Congress Li Peng, presently on an official visit to Athens, was received by the Greek Parliament's President Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday, with whom he discussed the crisis in Yugoslavia.
Mr. Peng demanded the immediate end to NATO's intervention and a return to the negotiations.
He further added that NATO actions have already caused loss of human lives and borne a serious impact on refugees and destabilization in the region.
"The borders were established during World War II and should remain unchanged" he said, warning that a change in borders "would constitute a major crime.
"The Chinese people are against NATO's armed intervention in Yugoslavia, as a matter of fact (conducted) without UN consent. Our standing position is to oppose interventions in other states' internal affairs," Mr. Peng said.
In turn, Mr. Kaklamanis stressed that China was one of the most consistent supporters of international law on the Cyprus problem, adding that its significant international standing could allow it to play a key role in southeastern European developments. A.F.
 GREECE PROVIDES AID TO FYROM AND ALBANIA FOR REFUGEE INFLUX
Athens, March 31 (MPA)Greece will provide 2.5 billion drachmas (around $8.5 million) of humanitarian aid to FYROM and Albania in order to assist these countries in dealing with the influx of refugees from Kosovo.
Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou has announced that two ambulances, tents, foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals will be flown by C-130 aircraft today and tomorrow, while 250 out of around 500 pre-fabricated homes would be dispatched immediately to both countries and Serbia.
Moreover, two centers will be established in Ioannina and Thessaloniki to coordinate and supervise the agencies handling refugee affairs. A.F.
 NATO WILL NOT DEPLOY TROOPS IN KOSOVO, FOR THE TIME BEING
Brussels, March 31 (MPA)NATO is not planning to deploy troops in Kosovo "at the present moment", according to the Alliance's secretary-general Javier Solana.
Nevertheless, according to the French news agency AFP, Mr. Solana reiterated that the Western nations have agreed to send troops to Kosovo after a cease-fire is reached and an agreement is signed between the warring sides.
Commending on yesterday's talks between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Russian Premier Yevgeni Primakov, Mr. Solana stated that all the members of the Alliance would be prepared to accept just agreements,. But would not accept unjust agreements. A.F.
 PRIMAKOV IS "NOT DISCOURAGED" AFTER TALKS IN BELGRADE
Moscow, March 31 (MPA)Russian Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov stated yesterday that he was "not discouraged" by the failure of his attempt to mediate an end to NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia.
According to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass, Mr. Primakov told a Russian television station that "we were expecting an outcome of this kind; we are not discouraged" and added that "we will continue to press ahead in the search for solutions to resolve the Kosovo crisis through political means."
Moreover, the Russian Premier said that "we received from Milosevic after six hours of talks, a signal which, in our view, is sufficient to begin a political "settlement" process. A.F.
 GREEK DEFENSE MINISTER ON TOUR TO ROMANIA, BULGARIA, FYROM
Athens, March 31 (MPA)Greece's Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos is to embark on a three-day Balkan tour tomorrow, visiting Romania, Bulgaria and FYROM.
Mr. Tsochatzopoulos will meet with his counterparts from the aforementioned countries, as well as with the Foreign Ministers and other government officials, with whom he will discuss the latest developments in Yugoslavia and the overall Balkan region, in light of NATO's raids.
While in Bucharest, Mr. Tsochatzopoulos will also be received by the Romanian Prime Minister. A.F.
 GREECE OK's TURKISH TRANSPORT PLANE IN FIR FOR AID TO TIRANA
Athens, March 31 (MPA)The Greek government has granted clearance for the passage of a Turkish transport plane into the Athens Flight Information Region in order to deliver humanitarian aid to Albania.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ismael Cem submitted the relevant request by phone to his Greek counterpart George Papandreou.
The Greek Foreign Ministry issued an announcement wherein it states that the clearance falls within the parameters of the recent decision adopted by the Foreign Ministers in Bucharest, who agreed on inter-Balkan cooperation in the humanitarian sector.
Moreover, the announcement reiterated that the Greek government does not grant clearance to Turkish fighter jets into the Athens FIR, nor does it allow the passage of Turkish troops through Greece. A.F.
 GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER TRAVELS TO TIRANA TODAY
Athens, March 31 (MPA)Greece's Foreign Minister George Papandreou is to travel to Tirana today where he will meet with his Albanian counterpart Paskal Milo in order to discuss the influx of Kosovo refugees into Albania and the humanitarian aid to be given by Greece.
Mr. Papandreou will also discuss the issue that has arisen by the arrival of ethnic Albanian refugees into areas inhabited by the Greek minority and their establishment in the houses of those Greeks who are presently in Greece.
Meanwhile, alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis is to visit FYROM tomorrow where he will also have talks on the refugee issue with government officials. A.F.
 SOLANA: YUGOSLAVIA CRISIS WILL HAVE BEEN RESOLVED BY APRIL 23
Rome, March 31 (MPA)NATO' s secretary-general Javier Solana believes that the crisis in Yugoslavia will have been resolved by April 23, the day when the Alliance's will hold its Summit on the occasion of its 50th year anniversary.
In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Mr. Solana stressed that NATO's raids against Yugoslavia will not cease until Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic provides guarantees that the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo will end.
Meanwhile, the political committee of the Council of Europe, which is convening in Rome, has received a recommendation, co-signed by Greece, for a ten-day cease- fire during Easter. A.F.
 MPA IS RIGHT ON TARGET WITH ITS TWO NEW BOOKS ON THE BALKANS
Thessaloniki, March 31 (MPA)When the flames of war subside in Yugoslavia and Kosovo, then the urgency of inter-Balkan cooperation in order to eradicate hatred, animosity and nationalism will be illustrated.
This is precisely what the Macedonian Press Agency's publication "Rigas Velestinlis: Inter-Balkan Cooperation Today" professes, through a compilation of views expressed by fifty political leaders, academicians and journalists from throughout the Balkan region, including Greece's President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minster Kostas Simitis, the leader of the main opposition party, New Democracy, Kostas Karamanlis, and others.
The book's presentation will take place tomorrow, April 1, at the Journalists Union premises in Athens and will be attended by Greece's Minister of the Press and Media Dimitris Reppas, Albania's Foreign Minister Paskal Milo, New Democracy's spokesperson Aris Spiliotopoulos and the Chairman of the MPA's Board of Directors, Prof. Pavlos Petrides.
Also, the MPA will present its "1999 Guide for the Balkans and the Black Sea Countries", published with the collaboration of "Ianos" Publishing House, which contains a wealth of information for each Balkan and Black Sea country, subdivided in the sectors of economy, defense, policy, biographies, etc. A.F.