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Antenna: News in English (AM), 97-05-21

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From: Antenna Radio <> - email:

News in English, 21/05/97


  • The tragic death of a Greek consulate guard in Albania.
  • Reaction to Sakis Rouvas's concert in Cyprus's neutral zone.
  • And, a schoolboy's honesty wins applause from his classmates.


Investigations continue into the tragic death of a Greek policeman working at the Greek consulate in Argyrokastro, in southern Albania.

Nikos Markakis was found dead Tuesday morning, killed by a gunshot wound in the head.

A mother's grief followed the death of 35-year-old Nikos Markakis. Arriving in Iannena, Nikos's mother collapsed, inconsolable. "He came here a week ago to find an apartment for his family". Nikos leaves his wife, and his nine-year-old daughter.

The circumstances surrounding the policeman's death remained unclear Tuesday night. He was looking out of the window on the second floor of the consulate when the fatal shot was heard.

One eyewitness rushed upstairs, but it was already too late.

An autopsy performed later in Iannena showed that the bullet had entered his forehead at close range.

The Greek government believes Markakis accidentally shot himself in the head when a gun he was holding went off in his hands.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas says the preliminary exams showed that the bullet came from his gun, and that many witnesses say the room was closed.

Greek defence minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos also ruled out murder, but urged people not to draw any conclusions before investigations are completed.

A team of police officers arrived in Argyrokastro from Iannena to look into the matter Tuesday afternoon.

People who knew the officer can't believe it was an accident. They say he always followed safety rules to the letter.

His brother, also a policeman, says Nikos was always careful with firearms.

Highly-respected as a policeman, Markakis was on the team providing security for Greek officials during a visit of orthodox archbishop of Albania Anastasios to the city of Dervitsani in April. There, the cautious Markakis wore a bullet-proof vest.

Some people in Argyrokastro also think it may have been murder. They point out that the minaret of a mosque towers just opposite the consulate building. Anonymous sources speculate that Markakis may have been shot by an Albanian sniper.

Nikos Kanellos, the Greek consul in Argurokastro, calls Nikos Markakis the best police officer he's ever worked with. Markakis was one of the most experienced Greek policemen in Albania.

Markakis took over as head of the police guard at the consulate in Argyrokastro in December 1995.

Foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos expressed his sadness at the tragic death.


Monday night's concert by a Greek and a Turkish musician in Cyprus's neutral zone came off without a hitch - inside the stadium where the concert was held.

But outside the stadium, there was fighting between the police and Greek Cypriots, who found the very idea of the concert, ostensibly aimed at assisting reconciliation on the divided island, an affront.

More on that, and what politicians in Greece and Cyprus had to say.

The concert held by Sakis Rouvas, a Greek pop star, and Turkish pop star BourAt Koot, came off with no problems, though Koot's car was attacked by members of the Turkish extremist organisation, the Grey Wolves. Two members of the Wolves were escorted out of the concert for raising their arms in their organisation's salute.

Concert attendance was not what was expected, despite the call by the Cypriot government for young people to attend the event. Of the 3 thousand free tickets available to Greek-Cypriots, only 580 were used. 2000 Turkish- Cypriots attended.

While the UN sponsored concert was billed as an event to bring Greek- Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots closer together, many Greek-Cypriots found the whole affair an insult.

Turkey staged a violent invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Thousands were killed, thousands more turned into refugees. Cyprus remembers, and still lives with the invader.

Members of the Cypriot Motorcyclists' Federation and the Cypriot Movement against the Turkish Occupation of Cyprus staged a concert of their own - a peaceful protest against the Turkish occupation - and they called on Greek- Cypriots to stay away from the concert in the neutral zone.

Relatives of Tassos Isaac and Solomos Solomou two young men killed by Turish troops and mobs during peaceful anti-occupation protests in the neutral zone, were at the portest rally. So were relatives of retiree Petros Kakoulis, shot dead by occupation forces when he was out for a walk last year.

There were also representatives of the Pontian- Greeks, whose people were victims of Turkish genocide 75 years ago.

The protest organisers deployed a hundred marshals to prevent people breaking away from the rally, hoping to ensure there was no violence.

But some 200 of the 3 thousand-odd people broke away from the peaceful rally, and tried to prevent Greek-Cypriots from attending the Rouvas concert.

Trouble followed. Street fights broke out between police and people angry over the Rouvas- Koot event.

A number of people were injured - 15 of them policemen. There were 55 arrests, including one Turk, who was relaying the events on his mobile phone.

Many Greek-Cypriot and Greek politicians also had things to say about the concert, and the response it provoked.

The Cypriot government, which approved the Rouvas concert, condemned the rioters. It called the fighting a jarring note amid the peaceful concert, and the protest concert.

The Cypriot authorities condemn trouble-makers as being responsible for the fighting. They add that it was unacceptable of the protestors to try to obstruct people from attending the concert. All citizens have the constitutional right to express their desire for peaceful co-existence between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

A United Nations' spokesman said the concert assisted efforts to bring the two sides together in Cyprus, a show of readiness on the part of Greek and Turkish-Cypriots to move closer.

But some opposition politicians in Cyprus were against the concert. EDEK leader Vassos Lissarides said that as long as the wall dividing free from occupied Cyprus stands, there should be no concerts.

Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas noted that the Rouvas-Koot concert had gone smoothely, and expressed his hope that the organisers achieved their aims.

But some Greek MPs were not pleased.

Pasok's Fivos Ioannides said, "Hellenism in Greece an Cyprus can't forget the Turkish occupation and the division of the island.

Nikos Sifounakis called the concert a sad display of a lack of historical memory. He believes that Rouvas has given the impression that Greece is giving out pardons to the Turks.

New Democracy MP Vassilis Michalo-liakos was satisfied that Greek-Cypriots turned their back on the concert. He believes there were anti-Greek motives behind the event.

Hearing of the episodes of violence, Rouvas expressed his regrets, adding that no one wanted anyone to get hurt.


Greece says that Israel and the Palestinians should honour the terms of their agreements signed in Oslo.

Greek foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos met with Israeli leaders in Israel Tuesday.

Pangalos repeated Greece's views during a discussion with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Yesterday, Pangalos met with Yassir Arafat, who's been placed in a difficult position by the difficulties the peace process is encountering.

Fears are that if the Oslo agreements are entirely shelved, the Middle East could explode as extemists on both sides take to fighting.

During his stay in Israel, Pangalos also met with Israeli president Weismann and foreign minister David Levy.

The Greek foreign minister also visited the Knesset and the Holocaust monument.


The Greek defence minister commented on reports that the US is trying to get Greece and Turkey to agree to a number of confidence-building measures.

After meeting with the prime minister, Akis Tsochatzopoulos said "If people want confidence- building measures, we have the 1988 Papoulias- Gilmaz memorandum.

That document called for a moratorium on Greek and Turkish military exercises in the Aegean for two months in the summer.

It also calls for Greece and Turkey to provide with records of all Aegean flights to Nato observers stationed in both countries.

Tsochatzopoulos also said Greece alone will decide when to extend its maritime borders in the Aegean from 6 to 12 miles, as the international convention on the seas allows.

Turkey has in the past threatened Greece with war if it exercises that right.

During his meeting with Kostas Simitis, Tsochatzopoulos talked about Greece's prospective armaments plans. Greece has an ambitious plan, which includes the purchase of a number of American F-16s.

The government will make its final decision on the purchase next month.


Akis Tsochatzopoulos says the only way forward for Albania is if national elections are conducted at the end of June, as planned.

Opposition parties are threatening not to participate in those elections if president Sali Berisha doesn't change an election law they say favours his party.

The Greek defence minister said at a banquet in his honour that the international peacekeeping force in Albania, in which Greek troops are taking part, might pull out if the political parties there don't start working things out, and make sure the elections are held.

"We went to Albania to help ensure that the elections are held, with the support of the current all-party interim governemnt", says Tsochatzopoulos. "We didn't go there to be used by different groups trying to achieve their individual aims in a political battle".


The finance minister is inviting Greek entrepreneurs to invest in businesses in the Balkans.

Giannos Papantoniou addressed the Association of the Balkan Chamber of Commerce in Athens.

"Greece", said Papantoniou, "can play a coordinating role in the investment drive, and contribute decisively to attracting important capital to the Balkans".

Athens chamber of commerce and industry vice president Panagis Stavridis added that Greek companies have already invested in virtually all fields in nearly all the Balkan countries.

The Greek government intends to do whatever it can to assist Greek businesses wishing to invest in the Balkans.


The leader of New Democracy believes the orthodox church has an active, major role to play in society.

Kostas Karamanlis met with archbishop of Athens, Serafim.

Karamanlis said he felt it his duty to meet with Serafim. "we all need to strengthen our religious faith", he told reporters.

Another New Democracy member, former prime minister Constantinos Mitsotakis, met with former archbishop of America, Iakovos.

After their meeting, Mitsotakis was asked to assess Pasok's handling of foreign policy.

He replied that Greece is on the right road, but the government's policies are sometimes too hesitant, and not clear enough. Mitsotakis thinks the government doesn't always have the courage to state clearly what it wants and to pursue its policy goals.

Archbishop Iakovos had warm words about Mitsotakis, saying he's always active in injecting the country's political life with hope.


World Red Cross Day was marked by the Greek chapter of the humanitarian organisation. The anniversary coincides with the 120th anniversary of the Greek Red Cross.

Greek president Kostis Stephanopoulos was among those who attended the commemorative event at the Archeological Society hall.

Greek Red Cross president Andreas Martinis had a simple message: Red Cross members are the world's volunteers.

Martinis presented awards to people who have contributed to society and the environment through their lives and work.

Former archbishop of America Iakovos was awarded the Gold Cross laurel for his important work on behalf of the church and Hellenism.

Iakovos had praise for the Red Cross, calling it an organisation of people who have promised to spread the message of humanitarianism and caring.

Lili Venizelou-Charamis, founder of the Mediterranean Association for the Survival fo the Sea Turtle, received the Gold Cross for her contribution to the international ecology movement.

"I consider this an honour not for me", she said, "but mainly for the understanding and sensitivity the Greek people have shown where protecting the environment is concerned".


A nine year old schoolboy in Thessaloniki is a hero to his classmates. Kostas Tsopis handed a bag and all its contents - including a video camera - he'd found over to the police.

Kostas went straight to the police station as soon as he found the bag, which also contained money and clothes.

When the word got out, the youngster's schoolmates couldn't stop praising him. One little girl, the class president, says she feels especially proud of her friend.

Teacher Dimitris Gamarazis hopes that Kostas's exemplary behaviour rubs off on the other kids.

Kostas Tsopis and his family came to Thessaloniki from from southern Albania four years ago. His life was quite ordinary, until he found the bag left on the beach by a schoolteacher who had taken her class on a day-trip.

© ANT1 Radio 1997

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