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03 April, 1999
The Greek government yesterday said there was no danger of the Kosovo crisis spreading to other parts of the Balkans.
Following a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said alleged information regarding "ethnic cleansing in progress in Yugoslavia by the side of Slobodan Milosevic" was discussed during the meeting.
He added that ethnic cleansing "is against international law, flagrantly violates human rights and we, as well as the international community, are opposed".
Answering questions over the possibility of a Greek entanglement, Mr. Reppas said: "We are very far from the possibility of a crisis, which could directly involve Greece in any kind of military conflict."
He also questioned why "certain individuals" associate the Kosovo issue with a possible Greek-Turkish conflict.
The government spokesman stressed that Greek borders "are guarded, are not open and are not available for unhindered passage."
On the possibility of a NATO ground offensive and Greece's reaction, he said "such issue has not been tabled we are a member of NATO and that is our choice and it is the wish of the large majority of the Greek people."
"As you can understand we have obligations and commitments to which we must respond. As you can see, other countries of the region are desperately requesting their accession to NATO," he added.
"On the other hand, we have shown in a very balanced way our policy, which calls for multilateral cooperation in the region. A policy which supports our national interests, while at the same time contributes to the confrontation of the crisis in the best possible way."
Mr. Reppas said the Cabinet also discussed the dual role of Greece as both a Balkan country and a European Union member-state in promoting peace and stability in the region.
On the refugee issue, he spoke of Greek initiatives for the provision of humanitarian aid for the refugees, which according to him total 120,000 in Albania and more than 40,000 in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and about as many in Montenegro.
He added that if a torrent of refugees exits Kosovo over the next few days "international organizations should confront it through a decision for the allocation of refugees in different countries."
Answering a relevant question, he said it was assessed that the crisis will continue, since NATO and US officials have made their point clear that they will continue and with a more rapid pace of military actions.
Referring to a meeting between Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova with Mr. Milosevic, he said that "I know of the relevant interview he (Mr. Rugova) gave to the German magazine "Der Spiegel", where he expresses several opinions, many of which are not in harmony with the statements he made during his meeting with Mr. Milosevic."
Source: Athens News Agency