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  • Marko Kocic
    ATHENS NEWS AGENCY ENGLISH BULLETIN ... ANA Athens reiterates its intent to alleviate Kosovo refugee problems Athens 05/04/1999 (ANA) Athens said yesterday it
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5, 1999



      ANA Athens reiterates its intent to alleviate Kosovo refugee problems

      Athens 05/04/1999 (ANA)
      Athens said yesterday it would do its best to contribute to any
      efforts at alleviating problems arising from the Kosovo crisis.
      "We shall be present, in the best and most efficient way, to
      contribute to the tackling of problems that have been created due to
      the crisis in Kosovo. We shall be present so that, simultaneously with
      our responsible options and best handling of the sit uation, we may
      guard our national interests," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas
      said after a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and
      Defence (KYSEA) yesterday.
      Sources said the Greek government was examining, at an initial stage,
      the prospect of reinforcing the Greek contingent in Albania within the
      framework of a broader NATO operation to provide humanitarian aid to
      the Kosovar refugees fleeing to that country.
      The same sources said the Greek military contingent in Albania has
      been praised by all sides involved for its contribution in providing
      humanitarian assistance for the refugees, while Non-Governmental
      Organisations (NGOs) in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
      (FYROM) have also been prai-sed for similar work.
      As a result of the Greek assistance, the same sources added, the
      accommodation of 20,000 refugees had been made possible in FYROM.
      KYSEA convened yesterday for three hours, under the chairmanship of
      Prime Minister Costas Simitis, to discuss ways in which Greece could
      contribute to the problem of refugees abandoning Yugoslavia due to the
      ongoing crisis.
      Greece's contribution was in in the framework of consultations and
      discussions taking place at an EU level, Mr. Reppas said, adding that
      the refugee problem should be tackled in accordance with each
      country's abilities.
      "Greece will not tackle the problem alone. In that framework, the
      government is examining the prospect of Greece taking in a few
      thousand refugees," the spokesman said.
      Other sources said any possible refugees allowed into Greece could
      possibly be hosted in central and southern Greece.
      On his part, Mr. Reppas said Greece would also be present in efforts
      to ease the refugees problem, and also in the creation of conditions
      for a political solution to the crisis, so as to safeguard its
      national interests.
      Athens News Agency

      Tsohatzopoulos criticism of Yugoslav leadership of Kosovo strategy

      Athens 05/04/1999 (ANA)
      National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday was
      categorical in his condemnation of Yugoslav President Slobodan
      Milosevic, charging that ethnic cleansing in Kosovo aims at changing
      borders in the region and making all the Balkan peoples host age to
      the problem.
      Speaking to reporters in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's
      (FYROM) capital of Skopje, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos further char-ged that
      the policy of ethnic clean-sing began before the NATO bombings
      started, saying that it now seemed that Mr. Milosevic did not wish to
      accept a solution, because he possibly had a different future form of
      Yugoslavia in mind.
      Asked about the NATO air strikes against downtown Belgrade on Saturday
      � the first since the Nazis bombed the Yugoslav capital in April 1941
      � he responded: "It doesn't matter what I believe, but that NATO has
      decided on the operations with an aim of putting an end to the
      humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo and a return to the negotiating
      He also stressed that Greece was "entitled" to make such charges,
      citing the mass persecution and "ethnic cleansing" practised by the
      Turks against ethnic Greeks in the Black Sea region and Asia Minor in
      1922 and on Cyprus in 1974.
      Then too, he continued, the objective was to change existing borders.
      "The Yugoslav leadership must take a position about how to bring an
      end to this situation. The Balkan peoples will not be held hostage to
      the plans promoted by Yugoslavia," he added.
      He repeated this position several times, accusing Belgrade of wanting
      "to make all countries part of the Kosovo problem," but stressing that
      "we are not willing to accept it and for this reason we shall react".
      The Greek minister also spoke of those "continuing the disastrous
      policy they began with the dissolution of Yugoslavia," in apparent
      reference to the Yugoslav president.
      Mr. Tsohatzopoulos stressed the urgent need for humanitarian aid to be
      sent to refugees leaving Kosovo and commented ironically on the fact
      that European Union services were closed yesterday because of the
      Easter holiday in Catholic and Protestant countries.
      "The bombing couldn't stop for Easter, but they have a public holiday
      when it comes to humanitarian aid," he said.
      Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated his opposition to any use of NATO ground
      forces in Kosovo.
      "Not one NATO soldier will go to Kosovo. Only through diplomatic and
      political means can a solution be found. NATO operations are the means
      to stop the uprooting of Kosovars and to bring everyone back to the
      negotiating table," he argued.
      Opposition reaction : The defence minister's remarks in Skopje were
      strongly criticised by several Greek opposition parties.
      "The despicable statements by the defence minister, with which he
      attributes responsibility to the leadership of New Yugoslavia for the
      war, absolves NATO and the EU, the real culprits, of their
      responsibility for the crime being committed," the Communist Party of
      Greece (KKE) said in a statement.
      KKE said Mr. Tsohatzopoulos' statements "confirm that Greece has an
      extremely dangerous government, which is participating in the
      slaughter of the neighbouring people while at the same time
      hypocritically and cravenly maintaining the opposite."
      The Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) in a statement,
      expressed its deep concern "that we are at the beginning of a new
      period in the Balkans, in which the problem of borders may arise at
      any moment and the problem of minorities may worsen."
      Addressing Synaspismos' central committee, party leader Nikos
      Constantopoulos charged that the Greek government bore heavy
      responsibility for the situation "because it added its signature at
      all the stages so far of the NATO operations.
      Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas described
      Mr. Tsohatzopoulos' references to "ethnic cleansing" as "unacceptable"
      and "abject".
      "Contrary to what the government and Prime Minister Costas Simitis
      were hypocritically declaring in public until just yesterday, (the
      minister's statements) in effect provide complete justification for
      the inhumane NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and our friends, the Serb
      people, which completely violates all rules of international law," Mr.
      Tsovolas said.
      Athens News Agency

      Top US diplomat Talbott arrives for talks

      Athens 05/04/1999 (ANA)
      US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott is scheduled to hold talks
      with Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Alternate Foreign Minister
      Yiannos Kranidiotis this morning.
      Mr. Talbott, who arrived in Athens yesterday afternoon, is on a Balkan
      tour and will be going on to Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of
      Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria and Romania. Diplomatic sources said he is
      enunciating Washington's official positions regarding all aspects of
      the Kosovo conflict. The US official has also asked to meet with PM
      Costas Simitis.
      Athens News Agency

      Canadian FM Axworthy's visit postponed

      Athens 05/04/1999 (ANA)
      Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy's scheduled talks in Athens
      with Greek foreign ministry officials has been postponed, it was
      announced yesterday.
      Ministry sources said Ottawa requested a postponement of Mr.
      Axworthy's meeting here today with Greek officials as an unforeseen
      obligation had arisen for the Canadian FM.
      Athens News Agency

      Constantopoulos in Belgrade today

      Athens 05/04/1999 (ANA)
      Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos
      Constantopoulos is scheduled to meet Yugoslav leaders in Belgrade
      today, including President Slobodan Milosevic.
      Mr. Constantopoulos, who is beginning tour of the Balkans, will remain
      in the Yugoslav capital for two days.
      Winding up sessions of the his party's central committee, the
      Synaspismos leader strongly condemned NATO attacks on Yugoslavia,
      calling on the Greek government to clearly state its disagreement
      regarding the planned escalation of military operations in the
      Yugoslav provice. "The war transcends Kosovo, it is a crime against
      humanity," he stressed.
      Athens News Agency

      Athens reportedly sets condition for accepting Kosovar refugees

      Athens 05/04/1999 (ANA)
      The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has officially
      asked the Greek government to accept about 20,000 Kosovo refugees now
      in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), sources said
      The request was made during a telephone discussion between UNHCR head
      Santago Ogata with Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who reportedly
      responded in the negative. According to the same sources, Mr.
      Papandreou told Ms Ogata and his German counterpart Joschka Fischer,
      with whom he also spoke, that Greece would accept refugees only within
      the framework of a decision for allocating them among NATO and
      European Union countries.
      Athens News Agency

      Athens march,other protests against NATO bombing

      Athens 05/04/1999 (ANA)
      The Italian and US embassies, as well as the EU Commission's
      representation in Greece were the target of protesters yesterday
      during another march against the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
      The protest march began at Syntagma Square and ended outside the US
      According to reports, a handful of mostly youthful protesters entered
      the Italian embassy's premises causing minor damages. Vandalism of
      several banks and automobiles along the protest route was also
      Meanwhile, serious incidents were reported outside the Souda naval
      base, near Hania, Crete, and the NATO regional headquarters at
      Tyrnavos, central Greece, when protesters attempted to deliver
      More than 3,000 people took part in the Hania protest march, which
      developed into a pitched battle with police when demonstrators were
      denied access to the base's gate. Police used tear gas and the crowd
      responded by throwing stones.
      Several police officers and protesters were injured.
      In Tyrnavos, protesters broke through a police cordon and painted
      slogans on the walls of the enclosure.
      Earlier, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka
      Papariga charged that the war was being carried out by NATO on the
      pretext of minority rights, while Greece was part of the Balkan
      problem with "the criminal attack against the Yugoslav, Serbian, and
      Albanian people", as she noted.
      "No minority has been a cause of war. Any problems with minorities can
      be solved in the context of the respective countries," she added.
      Athens News Agency

      Messolonghi exodus commemorated as statements point to Yugoslavia

      Athens 05/04/1999 (ANA)
      President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday said he was
      "deeply saddened" over the bloodshed in neighbouring Yugoslavia,
      expressed bitterness over the international community's stance.
      Speaking at an event in the western city of Messolonghi to mark the
      173rd anniversary of the "Exodus of the Free Besieged" - as the town's
      heroic inhabitants came to be known during the 1821 War of
      Independence - the Greek president expressed sadness over the victims
      of the conflict and the uprooting of thousands of unarmed civilians,
      adding that "the international community hesitates to be moved."
      On Saturday night, speaking at a similar event, Archbishop
      Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece called for an end to the war in
      Yugoslavia and for the prevalence of peace, as "no one has the right
      to kill unarmed civilians and harm or violate territor ial integrity".

      The prelate of the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece said the
      nation was a "victim of the powerful of the earth", although it is
      "always in favour of justice, of liberty".
      The government was represented at Saturday's event by Development
      Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
      The Sunday commemoration began with a te Deum at the Aghios Spyridon
      Cathedral, which was followed by a march to the Tomb of Heroes.
      On his part, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas karamanlis
      said the sacrifice of the "Free Besieged" should inspire all Greeks,
      calling for national unity regarding the Yugoslav crisis.
      Athens News Agency

      Protests against NATO bombings continue across N. Greece

      Athens 05/04/1999 (ANA)
      Thousands of northern Greece residents gathered at the Evzoni border
      post on the Greek-FYROM frontier yesterday to protest the NATO air
      strikes against Yugoslavia.
      Initially protesters gathered in Thessaloniki yesterday morning and
      formed a convoy of cars that wound its way to Evzoni.
      Waving Greek and Serbian flags, pennants of the Orthodox Church and
      holding flowers, protesters lined up along the Greek side of the
      border for a concert also attended by local mayors, prefects and
      deputies of various political parties.
      Local officials addressed the crowd, calling for peace, and
      protestors, after observing a minute of silence for the victims of the
      war in Yugoslavia, threw the flowers up into the air.
      The flowers, an organiser said, would remain strewn on the border road
      along which NATO military vehicles carrying supplies destined for the
      Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would pass.

      A makeshift explosive device exploded early Saturday morning outside a
      branch office of the ruling PASOK party in the Athens suburb of
      Galatsi, causing some damage to the building but no injuries.
      The bomb, which had been placed just outside the entrance of the
      office, consisted of a small quantity of dynamite, a detonator, two
      clocks and a battery.
      No warning was given prior to the blast and no group has yet claimed
      Officers of the anti-terrorist squad said, however, they suspected the
      "November 17" terrorist group was behind the attack. The officers
      based their suspicions on the way the bomb had been wired.
      PASOK's headquarters in downtown Athens were the target of a failed
      rocket attack on Thursday morning, which also bore the hallmarks of
      the elusive "November 17" organisation.
      Athens News Agency/END

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