Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-16
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 16/02/1999 (ANA)
- Greece calls for end to embassy sit-ins
- FM: Greece never considered asylum for Ocalan in Greece
- Athens calls for clarifications from Kenya
- Police round up Kurdish protestors
- Crisis management team meets on embassy crisis
- Kurdish official calls for end to sit-ins
- Increased security at foreign missions
- Kurdish hunger strikers vow to continue
- Rally scheduled for Thessaloniki
- Opposition slams handling of Ocalan issue
- Ruling party MPs critical
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece calls for end to embassy sit-ins
Greece today called on Kurdish protesters to end the takeover of Greek
embassies in various European capitals and cities and gave them an
ultimatum to do so until noon. Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos issued
the warning at an impromptu press conference at the foreign ministry as
several embassies were seized by Kurdish demonstrators. Pangalos said that
PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan had given "temporary residence, for humanitarian
reasons" at the house of the Greek Ambassador in Kenya. Pangalos said that
Kurdish demonstrators had seized the Greek embassies in Bonn, London,
Vienna, Brussels and the Hague, and the Greek consulates in Berlin,
Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Stuttgart.
FM: Greece never considered asylum for Ocalan in Greece
Pangalos reiterated that Greece "never considered, or would consider, as
expedient or useful the presence of Ocalan on Greek territory, for reasons
concerning both the interests of the Kurdish people and security and
stability in the region". He repeated that no application for granting
political asylum to Ocalan had been made to Greece, "and if such a request
had been submitted, under the 1991 Dublin treaty on political asylum, such
a request would have been referred to Italy, which was the first European
country that Ocalan went to after his departure from Syria".
Athens calls for clarifications from Kenya
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas requested clarifications from the
Kenyan government concerning the circumstances surrounding the capture of
Ocalan. Reppas said Ocalan had been in direct contact with Kenyan
government officials - in whom the Kurdish leader had "shown trust" - with
the aim of travelling to the Netherlands. The Greek government, he added,
has no information about "the way things turned out" and bore no responsibility
from the moment of Ocalan's departure "from where he was, with the
responsibility of the Greek side" to an unknown destination. The handling
of the issued by the foreign ministry and jointly competent ministries was
entirely successful, Reppas said.
Police round up Kurdish protestors
Security police Tuesday morning arrested 12 Kurds who were staging a hunger
strike outside the Greek Parliament, where two Kurds immolated themselves
last night and were taken to hospital for treatment. The arrests bring to
80 the number of arrests outside parliament yesterday and today. According
to a police source, the arrest of the 12 today was a precautionary measure
because police feared that more Ocalan followers would set fire to
themselves. Meanwhile, a group of 300 Kurdish refugees who were removed by
police from a central downtown Athens square, were transferred late last
night to an old airforce camp on Mount Pateras southwest of Athens, instead
of an area in the Athens surburb of Aghia Varvara.
Crisis management team meets on embassy crisis
Two hours after Pangalos' impromptu press conference, the national defence
ministry's crisis management team held an emergency meeting to "assess the
situation following the attacks against the Greek embassies abroad by
protesting Kurds". A defence ministry source told ANA that the meeting was
being attended by the army, navy and airforce chiefs of staff, national
defence general staff senior officers, and high-ranking officials from the
foreign ministry and the Greek intelligence service (EYP).
Kurdish official calls for end to sit-ins
A leading Kurdish official today called on protesting Kurds to release
Greek embassies and consulates that had seized throughout Europe, after
Ankara formally announced it had rebel Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan in
custody in Turkey. Yassar Kayar, president of the exiled Kurdish parliament,
told an Athens press conference that the Kurds had seized embassies and
consulates in a bid to discover the whereabouts of the PKK chief and leader
of some 25 million Kurds.
Increased security at foreign missions
Greece increased security at foreign diplomatic missions on Tuesday as a
precautionary measure against possible protests by Kurds, police sources
said. Security was upped at the British embassy, which represents Kenya in
Greece, and the Dutch, Italian, Turkish and U.S. embassies.
Kurdish hunger strikers vow to continue
A group of 20 Kurds on hunger strike outside the Macedonia and Thrace
Ministry in Thessaloniki, northern Greece said on Tuesday that they were
determined to sacrifice their lives for Ocalan. Ten Kurds had begun the
hunger strike began on Monday afternoon demanding that political asylum be
given to Ocalan. The group includes a couple with their four-year-old boy.
The hunger strikers, wearing red headbands and white shirts, are in the
meantime collecting money for the children of Kurdistan. A coach of riot
police is parked nearby. Without Ocalan, the hunger strikers said, the
Kurds have nothing to hope for and nothing to lose.
Rally scheduled for Thessaloniki
In Thessaloniki, Kurdish organisations said they would hold a rally for the
'oppressed Kurdish people' at 6.30 p.m., outside the Macedonia-Thrace
building where 20 Kurds are on a hunger strike. A representative of the
Kurds in the northern Greek city, who requested anonymity, said the
community was "bitter" over the stance of the Greek government. He linked
Monday night's arrests of Kurdish protestors outside the Parliament with
Ocalan's capture in Kenya.
Opposition slams handling of Ocalan issue
The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party criticised the government's
handling of the Ocalan issue, describing it as "bizarre and dangerous".
Spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said the government had involved Greece in a
crisis and had failed at all levels. According to sources, ND leader Costas
Karamanlis, who is expected to speak on the Ocalan issue in Parliament
later today, spoke in terms of "childish" handling by the government which
had compromised Greece.
Ruling party MPs critical
PASOK MP Costas Bandouvas said the turn taken in the Ocalan issue was
"shameful and a blot on modern Greek history." "Rather than protecting him,
we handed him over and this act is a black page for the government,"
Bandouvas said. Bandouvas and MPs Stelios Papathemelis and Christos
Kypouros were present at the news conference held by the president of the
Kurdish Parliament in Exile Yassar Kayar, who said the exact circumstances
regarding Ocalan's capture would be investigated. "I am not in a position
to say who is responsible but the investigations will throw light on the
arrest of the leader of the PKK," Kayar said.
Overcast weather and sporadic showers will prevail in most parts of Greece
today. Sleet or snow in the mountainous regions. Winds variable, moderate.
Overcast with intermittent rain in Athens with temperatures ranging between
5-13C. Overcast in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2-8C.
Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 283.563
Pound sterling 462.391 Japanese yen (100) 247.484
French franc 48.688 German mark 163.293
Italian lira (100) 16.494 Irish Punt 405.522
Belgian franc 7.917 Luxembourg franc 7.917
Finnish mark 53.715 Dutch guilder 144.926
Danish kr. 42.964 Austrian sch. 23.210
Spanish peseta 1.920 Swedish kr. 35.946
Norwegian kr. 37.162 Swiss franc 200.111
Port. Escudo 1.593 Aus. dollar 183.917
Can. dollar 189.928 Cyprus pound 550.957