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A.N.A. Bulletin, 17/08/96

From: "Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada" <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 965), August 17, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Simitis in Cyprus today, sends message of importance of issue

  • [2] Simitis statements

  • [3] Clerides: Simitis visit significant

  • [4] Reactions

  • [5] Cyprus buries second victim this week of Turkish occupation

  • [6] EU presidency condemns Turkish forces

  • [7] US to Ciller - Life more important than flag

  • [8] UN wants Clerides-Denktash meeting to diffuse tension

  • [9] Greeks and Cypriots in US react strongly to killings

  • [10] Turks burn Greek flag in Istanbul

  • [11] Protests in Rhodes, Thessaloniki

  • [12] Greek, Albanian officials co-operate on customs matters

  • [13] Work on optical fibers cable between Greece and Serbia


  • [1] Simitis in Cyprus today, sends message of importance of issue

    Athens,17/08/1996 (ANA)

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday said the solution to the Cyprus problem could only be attained through diplomatic efforts adding that an international campaign was being planned aimed at informing international public opinion and pressuring foreign governments to become more active in the direction of a Cyprus settlement.

    Mr. Simitis was speaking after an extraordinary meeting of the inner cabinet yesterday to examine developments in Cyprus after the killings of two young Greek Cypriot protesters by Turkish occupation forces on the island's buffer zone.

    Today, Mr. Simitis will be in Nicosia to attend a meeting of the Cypriot National Council, the island's top advisory body to the Cypriot President on the handling of the Cyprus problem.

    The Greek premier will arrive in the island republic this afternoon, accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Press Minister Dimitris Reppas.

    The Athens News Agency reported Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides as saying that the Greek premier's visit would be productive and assist in the further course of the national cause.

    Mr. Simitis said the murders committed by the occupation forces are "an unprecedented provocation for the international community, international organizations and free citizens."

    Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos also expressed "rage and indignation" at the two killings, saying that the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus is "one of armed dangerous violence."

    Tassos Isaac, 24, was clubbed to death by a mob on Sunday during a peaceful demonstration by Greek Cypriot and European bikers in Dherynia in the east of the island republic. The protesters were demanding freedom of movement and restoration of human rights violated since Turkey invaded and occupied Cyprus' northern third in 1974.

    Isaac was killed by Turkish paramilitary troops armed with steel bars, while live ammunition was also fired at the Greek Cypriot demonstrators. Isaac's widow is five months pregnant. Forty-one other people were injured. A UN report released Thursday night said a significant number of members of the Turkish "Gray Wolves" terrorist organization had arrived in the occupied part of the island prior to Sunday's demonstration.

    The second unarmed Greek Cypriot to be murdered, Solomos Solomou, 26, was shot to death by Turkish troops on Wednesday, shortly after Isaac's funeral, as he attempted to climb a flagpole near a Turkish guard post in the buffer zone at Dherynia. Eleven others were injured, including two UNFICYP peacekeepers and a 59-year-old Greek Cypriot woman, Georgia Andreou, who was seriously wounded in the stomach by a bullet as she was standing 600 meters away from the line of fire, inside the free side of Cyprus.

    Solomou - a cousin of Isaac - was a refugee from the Turkish-occupied town of Famagusta. Solomou was only four years old when the second Turkish invasion, dubbed "Attila 2," forced his family to flee their home.

    [2] Simitis statements

    Athens,17/08/1996 (ANA)

    In statements to reporters after the three-hour inner cabinet meeting, Mr. Simitis sent a clear message to Greek Cypriots and international organizations.

    "Cyprus's struggle is the struggle of the entire nation and the settlement of the problem constitutes the top priority for Hellenism," Mr. Simitis said, adding that the close defense co-operation between Athens and Nicosia, as expressed in the joint defense doctrine, was "the realization in practice" of Greece's support for and alignment with Cyprus.

    "Our efforts will continue until final vindication," he stressed.

    Commenting on the stance of international organizations, the premier said that efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem through these bodies had not succeeded, underlining that the international community had not shown the necessary will to put an end to t he drama on Cyprus.

    "We must oppose the continuation of the (Turkish) occupation," Mr. Simitis said, noting that the international community was also responsible for the continuation of the situation.

    The European Union in particular has responsibilities and obligations, Mr. Simitis said, "particularly now when talks are commencing for Cyprus' accession (to the European Union)."

    It was clear from Mr. Simitis' statements that an international campaign was being planned aimed at informing public opinion and pressuring foreign governments to become more active in the direction of a Cyprus settlement.

    Mr. Simitis indicated that the campaign would be formulated jointly with the Cyprus government during today's meeting of the National Council in Nicosia.

    The solution to the Cyprus problem, the premier continued, could only be attained through diplomatic efforts.

    "In Cyprus, I will discuss additional initiatives which must be taken in order to increase the pressure on international organizations to secure Turkey's compliance with United Nations resolutions, as well as to ensure the condemnation of Turkish policy as a whole, both with respect to the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations," Mr. Simitis said.

    Mr. Simitis said he was planning a tour of European capitals for talks with European leaders in which he would raise the Cyprus problem in accordance with the decisions to be taken by the Cyprus National Council.

    Asked if there was concern about an escalation of tension on Cyprus, the premier replied that the situation was under control and "Turkey's outbursts of aggression can be dealt with in the right way."

    Referring to the latest bloody incidents in the island republic, Mr. Simitis said they confirmed the "undiminished intransigence and provocativeness of Turkey."

    "The behavior of the (Turkish) occupation forces and their puppets is devoid of all logic and violates all concepts of law and human rights," he added. "While in all countries of Europe the freedoms of movement and communication are respected, in Cyprus they are being violated by the Turkish occupying forces and Cyprus is the only country of Europe which is divided," Mr. Simitis stressed.

    Premier Simitis will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos in his visit to Cyprus. Mr. Simitis is scheduled to leave for Nicosia at 1 p.m. local time today. He will have talks first with President Clerides before attending the Cyprus Nation al Council meeting.

    After the meeting, he will have talks with Archbishop Chrysostomos before returning to Athens.

    [3] Clerides: Simitis visit significant

    Athens,17/08/1996 (ANA)

    In an exclusive statement to the Athens News Agency (ANA) in Nicosia, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said the Greek prime minister's visit would be a productive one, assist in the further course of the national issue, and was one more indication of Greece's interest in the course of the national problem.

    "This visit is a proof of Greece's intense interest in the course of our national problem, which as Mr. Simitis said yesterday (Thursday) we should reinforce our efforts for its solution, (as well as) for the national survival of the Cypriot Hellenism i n the land of its ancestors...," Mr. Clerides said.

    Cyprus government spokesman Yiannakis Cassoulides said that the interpretation of Mr. Simitis' visit to the island republic was that Greece was on the side of Cypriot Hellenism, an ANA dispatch from Nicosia said.

    "This message is not only addressed domestically, but also to Turkey and I do not think it is insignificant," the spokesman added.

    The Cyprus government believes that the presence of Mr. Simitis in Cyprus demonstrates, once again, Greece's affection and support to the Cypriot people, the spokesman said.

    He added that the Simitis visit was coming during a time of "crisis and tension" to be present at a meeting of the National Council, and that this is an act of "encouragement and faith in that we will meet the common dangers and crises with the wish of their happy conclusion."

    The spokesman said the visit constituted a "substantive action which allows Cypriot Hellenism to look into the future with faith and hope."

    Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Cassoulides said he did not know to what extent the meeting of the Cyprus National Council with the participation of Mr. Simitis would serve as a "preamble" to a national conference in Athens.

    Commenting on the agenda of the National Council meeting Mr. Simitis will participate in, Mr. Cassoulides said the agenda will be open and will include the examination of developments regarding recent events.

    The spokesman described Mr. Simitis' visit as a "working visit," adding that the Greek premier's official visit will take place in October as planned.

    Meanwhile, President Clerides met yesterday Greece's ambassador to Cyprus Alecos Sandis, to discuss Mr. Simitis' visit to the island.

    Mr. Sandis paid tribute to the two young Greek Cypriots who were murdered in cold blood by Turks in the past six days and stressed that with his visit, the Greek prime minister wanted to demonstrate his unwavering support and backing of Cyprus.

    [4] Reactions

    Athens,17/08/1996 (ANA)

    Speaking on Naxos yesterday, President Kostis Stephanopoulos stressed that Greece would remain "unyielding, steadfast and able to confront any threat."

    "I do not wish to use big words, nor to refer to precedents in history... but I cannot but recall the arrogance which others had shown towards us, with threats against Greece and the Greeks. And I would not like to liken this to today's threats from people who do not have a good knowledge of history and who believe that with their hypothetical superiority alone they can impose their desires on Greece," Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

    The president was speaking on the second day of a four-day tour of the Cyclades.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Miltiades Evert urged the taking of "the necessary initiatives" in order to make it clear internationally "in light of the latest examples of Turkish barbarity" that Turkey is not a civilized and democratic state governed by law.

    He said Mr. Simitis should undertake an initiative for the extraordinary convening of an EU summit at which he should explain that Turkey did not fulfill even the most basic requirements for becoming an EU member and for continuing to receive Community assistance.

    Mr. Evert said Turkey's behavior should also be condemned by the Council of Europe plenary, while the United Nations and other competent international organizations should consider their responsibilities, based on the fact that for 22 years they had passively tolerated Turkey's "crude and provocative contempt" for their resolutions.

    Greece's reply to Turkey requires determination and steadfastness, Mr. Evert said, adding that "there cannot be and must not be any more concessions and withdrawals."

    Mr. Evert reiterated his call for the immediate convening of a meeting of political party leaders, chaired by President Kostis Stephanopoulos, saying "any further delay of the integrated planning and effective implementation of a long-term programme for the strengthening of Greece's armed forces would be unforgivable."

    Speaking to reporters from Hania, Crete, main opposition New Democracy (ND) party honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis called for the reinforcement of Greece's Armed Forces.

    "We should support the Armed Forces with deeds not words," Mr. Mitsotakis said, adding that Turkey was taking advantage "of our country's internal and external weakness, due to the mistakes of the Greek policy of the past three years."

    Meanwhile, the head of the political policy council of the Political Spring party Dimitris Stamatis called on the government to undertake specific initiatives in the field of Greek-Turkish relations.

    He called on the government to immediately convene a meeting of the EU's competent officials and the political leaders council as well as call for the immediate referral of the murderers of the two Greek Cypriots to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

    He further asked the government to convene a meeting with the participation of the leaders of all Greek and Cypriot political parties.

    Commenting on Mr. Simitis' statements, the Communist Party of Greece called on the government to stop searching for "guarantees and solutions for the safety of the country and the settlement of the Cyprus problem to the so- called allies," but denounce the US and the EU "for their substantive support to Ankara and the Turkish occupation forces."

    The party further said the government should inform the Greek people on the real perils stemming from the "attitude and the policy of our so-called allies."

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos criticized the government for not coming up with an action plan to confront the "barbaric, murderous provocations in Cyprus," instead resorting to the "standardized announcements for routine working procedures."

    Commenting on Mr. Simitis' statements following the inner cabinet meeting yesterday morning, Mr. Constantopoulos said the Greek citizen expected to hear of an agreed-upon political action plan.

    "In the name of the necessary cool-headedness the government abandons any responsible and decisive initiative in the diplomatic and political level at a time when developments are shaking our people and predominate in the international news scene," he added.

    [5] Cyprus buries second victim this week of Turkish occupation

    Nicosia, 17/08/1996 (ANA/CNA)

    Thousands of mourners attended the funeral yesterday of Greek Cypriot Solomos Solomou who was killed by Turkish troops on Wednesday in protests against Turkey's occupation of Cyprus.

    Hundreds of police officers in riot gear formed a human chain along part of the UN-patrolled buffer zone to prevent further violence from breaking out, as the Cyprus government and church made appeals to Cypriot youth to maintain their calm.

    "We recommend to the Cyprus people coolheadedness and self-restraint," government spokesman Yiannakis Cassoulides said.

    This week saw some of the bloodiest clashes on Cyprus since Turkey invaded the island republic in 1974. Solomou was shot dead by Turkish troops as he attempted to climb a flagpole near a Turkish guard post in the buffer zone at Dherynia, southeastern Cyprus.

    He was one of a group of Greek Cypriots who had gone to the funeral of Tassos Isaac, 24, who was savagely beaten to death by Turkish extremists during a peaceful protest in the same location on Sunday.

    Addressing the Cypriot youths, during the funeral service, the Primate of the Cyprus Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos, appealed for an end to the protests against the on-going Turkish occupation of the divided island.

    "The objective of your protests has been achieved to a great extent, it is considered necessary, for the time being, to avoid any more events in order to allow the political leadership to benefit from the positive climate and avoid any more bloodshed", the Archbishop said.

    "You have succeeded in bringing to the limelight the injustice in Cyprus and you have helped the political leadership on the island to project the just demands of our people for the restoration of freedom and human rights," he said.

    "Some might say your attempt to pull down the Turkish flag was silly but heroism surpasses the bounds of reason when you are fighting for your country, religion, freedom and national dignity", the Archbishop added.

    Praising Solomou's courage, he described his sacrifice as "a significant service" to the struggle of the people of Cyprus for freedom and justice.

    In his speech, Paralimni Mayor Nikos Vlittis said Solomou proved by his actions that "no barbed wire could have stopped him" and remarked on the "cowardice of those who fired at him".

    Wreaths were laid on behalf of President Glafcos Clerides, Greece's President Kostis Stephanopoulos and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, due in Cyprus today to attend a meeting of the Cyprus National Council.

    Mr. Simitis' wreath was laid by Education Under-secretary George Paschalidis, who said that "we demand all the inalienable rights of Hellenism".

    Wreaths were also laid on behalf of the Cypriot and Greek political leadership as well as the family of 24-year-old Tassos Isaac.

    Greece's Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras, who was greeted by the gathered crowds with an extended round of applause, said "Solomou died a free man, and cried out aloud that he wants a free Cyprus without borders and without Turkish occupation".

    [6] EU presidency condemns Turkish forces

    Brussels, 17/08/1996 (ANA)

    The Irish presidency of the European Union yesterday issued an announcement condemning the "disproportionate use of force" by Turkish occupation forces against Greek Cypriot demonstrators that has left two dead this week.

    "The European Union strongly deplores the recent violence in Cyprus and the disproportionate use of force by the security forces in the north of Cyprus in response to unauthorized entry into the buffer zone. It condemns the brutal killings of Tassos Isaac and Solomos Solomou and expresses its deep concern about the injuries sustained by many others, including United Nations peacekeeping personnel.

    "The European Union calls for restraint and calm in the wake of these tragic events. It urges both sides to avoid further confrontation and to co-operate fully with UNFICYP in its efforts to defuse tensions.

    "The recent events have again highlighted the urgent need to intensify efforts to promote a comprehensive political settlement in Cyprus, under the aegis of the United Nations. The European Union reiterates its full support for the work of the Secretary -General and his special representatives in this regard."

    [7] US to Ciller - Life more important than flag

    Washington, 17/08/1996 (Reuter/ANA)

    The United States, criticizing Turkey's foreign minister for comments after this week's violence in Cyprus, said yesterday that human life was more important than protecting a flag.

    "We know there were some comments by Turkish Foreign Minister Mrs. (Tansu) Ciller about the sanctity of flags ... but frankly protection of the flag cannot excuse the horrible events of August 14. Human life and the sanctity of human life are ultimately more important than protecting a piece of cloth," State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns told reporters.

    Mr. Burns was reacting at a news briefing to Ms Ciller's comments on Thursday that Turks would "break the hands" of anyone who insulted their flag, a reference to a Greek Cypriot who was shot dead in Cyprus while trying to tear down the Turkish flag.

    "The United States bows to no one in our respect and deference for national flags," Mr. Burns said. But he reiterated the US view that "the reaction of Turkish security forces (who shot the demonstrator) was entirely disproportionate to the events."

    He said the situation in Cyprus, where there was also violence last Sunday, remained very worrying and US Ambassador Ken Brill planned to meet Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders yesterday.

    Mr. Brill "is urging meetings between military commanders and (the two sides) to take practical steps to reduce tensions," Mr. Burns said.

    [8] UN wants Clerides-Denktash meeting to diffuse tension

    Nicosia, 17/08/1996 (ANA/CNA)

    The UN has requested the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides to put forward suggestions about ways to diffuse the situation on the island, following the killing of two Greek Cypriots by Turkish occupation forces in the UN-controlled buffer zone, government spokesman Yiannakis Cassoulides has said.

    Speaking to the press, the spokesman also said the National Council, which meets today in the presence of Greece's Prime Minister Costas Simitis to review the current situation, will examine a proposal by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for a meeting with President Glafcos Clerides to "defuse the situation".

    Replying to press questions, Mr. Cassoulides did not rule out the possibility of a such a meeting taking place.

    He said Mr. Denktash's proposal for an immediate meeting with President Clerides will be discussed today and a reply will be given.

    Mr. Cassoulides said the National Council, the top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus problem, will evaluate the proposal and consider whether this is different from Mr. Denktash's long-standing demand for a meeting to discuss t he Cyprus problem.

    President Clerides believes that a meeting with Mr. Denktash, to discuss ways to move closer to an overall settlement, would only be productive if common ground is reached on the basic aspects of the Cyprus question.

    For the past two days, Gustave Feissel, the UN Secretary General's resident representative in Cyprus, has been holding meetings with President Clerides and Mr. Denktash, to find ways to defuse the tension.

    Mr. Feissel would not confirm if he is carrying a suggestion from the UN Secretary General for such a meeting.

    [9] Greeks and Cypriots in US react strongly to killings

    New York, 17/08/1996 (CNA/ANA)

    The killings and brutal beatings of Greek Cypriots in the UN-controlled buffer zone has mobilized the Cypriot and Greek ethnic communities here as perhaps no other event since the illegal regime in northern occupied Cyprus declared "independence" in 1983.

    Rallies, protests and demonstrations are being organized here and in other cities in the United States.

    Greek American community leaders have made an emotional and strongly worded appeal to Madeleine Albright, the US ambassador to the United Nations.

    In a conference called with the US diplomat, who recently visited Cyprus, they impressed on her that the time for the United States to take firm action against Turkey was well overdue.

    On Thursday afternoon a protest rally was organized in front of the Turkish permanent mission, across from the United Nations. There were a number of scuffles with police, in which seven people were slightly injured. Four arrests were made.

    Yesterday, two members of the US Congress, Bob Menendez and Eliot Engel were to hold a press conference at the United Nations to draw attention to the buffer zone slayings and to screen a video of the events for the press.

    Also yesterday, Greek and Cypriot US community leaders will meet in Washington with National Security Adviser Samuel Berger, and with John Kornblum, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs.

    Meanwhile, UN spokesperson Sylvana Foa said on Thursday Gustave Feissel, the UN resident representative, "met separately with President (Glafcos) Clerides and (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash to talk about the tragic events and to underline the nee d to prevent any reoccurrence".

    She said it was a "very candid" meeting, and that both leaders appeared quite affected by what had happened.

    Mr. Feissel, she noted, "stressed that it was the responsibility of local authorities on either side of the buffer zone to prevent people from breaching the cease-fire lines and getting into the buffer zone itself". Ms Foa made the same point repeatedly yesterday.

    [10] Turks burn Greek flag in Istanbul

    Istanbul, 17/08/1996 (Reuter/ANA)

    Turkish demonstrators burned the Greek flag and chanted nationalist slogans in Istanbul yesterday in response to Greek Cypriot demonstrations against the on-going Turkish occupation in Cyprus on Sunday and Wednesday.

    A group of around 300 people chanting "The (Turkish) flag will not come down" marched through the Beykoz district of Istanbul following yesterday's prayers at a mosque.

    Protesters burned a blue and white Greek flag, and recited the Turkish national anthem to end the demonstration.

    A group of about 50 demonstrators staged a similar protest in the western town of Bursa, burning the Greek flag and chanting slogans after yesterday's prayers.

    [11] Protests in Rhodes, Thessaloniki

    Athens,17/08/1996 (ANA)

    There were demonstrations against the Turkish consulates in Rhodes and Thessaloniki last night by Greeks and Cypriots angered at this week's killings of two Greek Cypriot youths by Turkish occupation troops in Cyprus.

    Local Greeks and members of the Cypriot Association of Rhodes yesterday marched to the island's Turkish consulate to protest the killings of two Cypriot youths by Turkish occupation troops in Cyprus while Cypriot youths last night demonstrated outside the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki. The demonstrators burned a Turkish flag and then withdrew while the Thessaloniki building was guarded by a strong police force.

    A new protest march to the consulate in Thessaloniki is scheduled for today, after a short memorial service for the dead demonstrators.

    In Komotini, meanwhile, approximately 400 protesters marched to the Turkish consulate, burning the Turkish flag and causing minor damage to the exterior of the building, following a protest rally against the Turkish government's plans to convert the Byzantine church of Ayia Sofia in Istanbul into a mosque.

    The protesters ignored a call for a peaceful end to the rally by the city's metropolitan, Damaskinos.

    Following their march to the consulate, they marched to the city's center and the premises of the Moslem Youth organization, again causing material damage to the building and shops.

    In a renewed assault on the consulate, the demonstrators again broke through police lines and lowered and burned the replaced Turkish flag.

    First reports said there were five arrests.

    [12] Greek, Albanian officials co-operate on customs matters

    Athens,17/08/1996 (ANA)

    Greek and Albanian finance ministry officials met in Corfu yesterday, in the framework of agreed co-operation in the field of customs.

    There was extensive discussion of tariff evasion in the movement of merchandise between the two countries, of a noted recent significant increase in drug trafficking from Albania to Greece, and of the possibilities for mutual administrative assistance.

    It was announced afterwards that there had been a coincidence of views, and that a new meeting would be held in Tirana after a reasonable period of time, to check on the progress of agreed measures and the possible adoption of additional ones.

    [13] Work on optical fibers cable between Greece and Serbia

    Belgrade, 17/08/1996 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)

    The laying of an optical fibers cable connecting the telecommunications networks of Greece and Serbia will begin at the end of the year, the director of the Serbian telecommunications organization Milorad Jaksic announced yesterday.

    He was speaking during the opening of the similar cable connecting his country and Bulgaria.

    The Greek connection, to be effected through co-operation with the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), will be two-pronged, he said. One arm will run from Nis through Skopje to Thessaloniki, and the other from Valievo through Usice to the port of Bar in Montenegro and then Corfu.

    Mr. Jaksic said preparatory work for the project had already began.

    End of English language section.

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