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Antenna: News in English (PM), 99-02-24

Antenna News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Antenna <> - email:


  • [01] State departmanet
  • [02] Cabinet meeting
  • [03] Stefanopoulos
  • [04] Yiannopoulos-Kalinterides
  • [05] Karamanlis
  • [06] Athens Stock Exchange

  • [01] State departmanet

    The United States has dismissed out of hand the Turkish president's request that Greece be listed as a nation that supports terrorism, and has given a vote of support to the government of Kostas Simitis.

    Turkish president Suleiman Demirel made the request a few days ago, saying the fact that Greece tried to help Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan escape abduction and assassination at the hands of the Turks made Greece a terrorist-backing state.

    Greece says its only motivation in helping Ocalan was humanitarian - the fear that he wouldn't get a fair trial in Turkey.

    US state departmanet spokesman James Foley said Tuesday the Ocalan incident was an "isolated episode". There is a big difference between providing Ocalan with temporary sanctuary and claiming that Greece systematically supports terrorists, Foley added.

    Asked to comment on Demirels claims that Greece has supported Kurdish terrorists for years, Foley said "We have no evidence of that".

    Foley also said the US is in close and constant contact with Greece on terrorist-related matters.

    "Greece is a friendly country", he added. "We should bear that in mind. "We work closely with its government politically, economically, and militarily, and it's in that light that we should view our difference of views over providing Ocalan with refuge".

    Turkey has also accused Italy, the Czech Republic, and South Africa of giving the Kurds arms.

    [02] Cabinet meeting

    A week after the dramatic abduction of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan after he left the Greek ambassador's residence in Nairobi, the government is trying to guarantee that a Greek intelligence officer and three Kurdish women can safely leave the country.

    The issue was discussed at a joint meeting of the cabinet and the Pasok political secretariat.

    Major Savvas Kalinterides was sent to Kenya to help direct Greece's handling of Ocalan while he was at the embassy. The Kurdish women are all associates of Ocalan.

    Greek foreign ministry secretary general Pavlos Apostolides has flown to Kenya to see what he can do to guarantee the Kenyans allow the four people to leave the country safely.

    His negotiations with the authorities are not expected to be easy.

    A Kenyan government spokesman said Wednesday that basic Kenyan laws were violated when Ocalan was smuggled into the country under a false passport.

    Foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou says if no headway can be made, he may travel to Nairobi himself.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Wednesday that the matter is extemely delicate.

    [03] Stefanopoulos

    The government has asked the president to help guarantee the safe departure of Kalinterides and the Kurds from Kenya.

    Foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou met with president Kostis Stephanopoulos Wednesday, briefing him on developments associated with Ocalan and the political fallout.

    At the government's request, president Kostis Stephanopulos tried to contact his Kenyan counterpart, but without success.

    After meeting with the president, Papandreou asked for the opposition parties and the press to maintain low tones over the fate of the four people in the embassy in Kenya.

    The foreign minister will go on to brief the leaders of the other political parties on the government's strategy as far as Ocalan goes. Greece has already won a European Union statement calling on Turkey to ensure that the Kurdish leader gets a fair and open trial. The EU says international observers should attend the trial, but Turkey has ruled that out.

    [04] Yiannopoulos-Kalinterides

    Major Savvas Kalinterides was apparently at odds with the Greek foreign ministry in the days leading up to Ocalan's abduction. While Athens wanted the Kurdish leader to leave the embassy premises, Kalinterides felt that it would be dangerous for him to leave.

    Greek justice minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos caused a storm, saying Kalinterides might be an Israeli agent - the Israelis are said to have been in on the Ocalan kidnapping.

    MPs from all the political parties, including Pasok, lambasted the justice minister for saying intelligence service major Savvas Kalinterides might be a double agent working for Mossad.

    Evangelos Yiannopoulos told Antenna radio that he doesn't believe Kalniterides is an Israeli agent, but he's heard the charge made and seen it written.

    Defending Yiannopoulos, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the justice minister had not accused Kalinterides of anything.

    But some Pasok MPs were incensed. Said Theodoros Katsanevas: "It's unacceptable, such things shouldn't be said publicly. Such a thing as Kalinterides being an Israeli agent is impossible - but even if it were true, the state authorities would be responsible".

    Vassilis Kedikoglou also slammed Yiannopoulos's comments.

    And Christos Kipouros, who left Pasok Tuesday to become an independent MP called the justice minister's remarks "fascistic", and an "example of the vulgarisation of public life".

    New Democracy spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos say the government spokesman's support for Yiannopoulos has surprised the public. He's challenging the government to present any evidence it has suggesting Kalinterides is a foreign agent.

    People from Kalinterides's home town showed up in number at the county building in Serres to protest what they consider the justice minister's mud- slinging, and to demand that he be brought safely home from Kenya as soon as possible.

    At the protest, New Democracy MP Nikos Leontarides said Kalinterides is a "good officer, who carried out his duty faithfully". Leontarides said it's thanks to Kalinterides that some of Greece's honour was saved in the Ocalan affair.

    The Serres county prefect called for Yiannopoulos to be removed from his post.

    [05] Karamanlis

    The new Democracy leader repeated his call for the prime minister to resign.

    Touring the Athens area, Kostas Karamanlis called the government's handling of the Ocalan affair "childish".

    Calling the prime minister weak, he said he can no longer stay at th helm of a government which has exhausted its margins for error.

    Karamanlis also dismissed as fear-mongering Kostas Simitis's argument that the government should not be overturned because that would hurt Greece's chances of joining European economic and monetary union.

    Karamanlis said it was New Democracy that first started Greece on the road to EU membership in the 1970s; and New Democracy that could steer it into EMU if elected to power.

    In a speech in Aspropyrgos outside Athens Wednesday night, Karamanlis said the government has no right to try to wash its hands of responsibility in the Ocalan affair. In such serious matters, the prime minister is responsible, he added, and the prime minister should now resign.

    [06] Athens Stock Exchange

    The Athens stock exchange rebounded with a fury Wednesday. After diving by six per cent Tuesday, the Athens bourse raged back, gaining 7.14 per cent Wednesday.

    People who picked up cheap stock in Tuesday's sell off have made a killing.

    But for people who panicked and sold Tuesday, it was a tough lesson in knowing when to hold on to your shares, say analysts.

    Broker Giorgos Kominatos says the upswing was a result of the government's confidence-inspiring restatement that the primary national goal is entry into European economic and monetary goal.

    The market began to rebound before closing Tuesday afternoon, when it became clear that rumours - that prime minister was going to resign, or that he was going to postpone Pasok's party congress under the weight of the Ocalan affair, were just rumours.

    Finance minister Giannos Papantoniou says the government has totally restored public and market confidence in it. The stock exchange will stay on a positive course, he adds, because its success rests on positive developments in the economy as a whole.

    Investors are advising people who scurried to buy stock in recent weeks on the back of a huge surge in prices over the past few months to hold on to their shares.

    Stock broker Constantinos Dadamanis says the only medicine for stock exchange jitters is a cool head.

    (c) Antenna 1999

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