Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-23
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 23/02/1999 (ANA)
- EU calls on Turkey to give Ocalan a fair and open trial
- Simitis speaks with EU counterparts
- Justice minister appeals to EU
- Greece lashes out at Turkey's fabrications
- European lawyers call for fair Ocalan trial
- Papandreou calls for 'cool-headedness'
- Kranidiotis discusses Kosovo problem with Albanian FM
- SE European audiovisual institutes urge cooperation
- Political party leaders speak at Ioannina liberation anniversary
- Swiss tourist goes missing in Crete
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
EU calls on Turkey to give Ocalan a fair and open trial
European Union foreign ministers yesterday issued a statement calling on
Turkey to take all the necessary measures so as to ensure Kurdish leader
Abdullah Ocalan's trial is conducted on the basis of the rule of law, with
Ocalan receiving access to legal counsel of his choice and with international
observers admitted to the trial.
"The European Union takes note of the assurance of the Turkish Government
that Abdullah Ocalan will have a fair trial. It expects this to mean fair
and correct treatment and an open trial according to the rule of law before
an independent court, with access to legal counsel of his choice and with
international observers admitted to the trial. It underlines once more its
strict opposition to the death penalty," the statement said.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who insisted on the issuing of a
statement concerning Ocalan's capture and transfer to an island prison in
Turkey last week, and the long-standing Kurdish problem, expressed his
satisfaction over the EU statement.
The EU foreign ministers condemned all forms of terrorism but underlined
that the fight against terrorism had to be dealt with through respect of
all human rights and democratic rules.
They also expressed their regret at the acts of violence which followed the
capture of Ocalan.
In his press statements, Mr. Papandreou said: "This statement gives Turkey
the opportunity, if it meets the conditions set out in the statement, to
strengthen its ties with the European Union."
Greece, he added, had insisted on the statement because a large number of
Kurdish political refugees had found sanctuary in Greece and other European
countries and because it believed the statement would contribute to
achieving stability in the wider region of the Balkans.
He underlined that Turkey as a member of the Council of Europe would have
to satisfy a series of commitments in relation to Ocalan's trial.
He linked the Kurdish issue to the concern over Kosovo, saying that if
Serbia had respected human and minority rights in the strife-torn region,
today's tension would not be an issue.
Responding to Turkish reporters, the foreign minister said that "if Turkey
thinks it can use Greece as a scapegoat for the Ocalan issue it is
He said that many Kurds living in Greece were political refugees and
engaged in political activity but under no circumstances could they be
"Greece, like many other European Union countries, could not accept
extending political asylum to Abdullah Ocalan but attempted for primarily
humanitarian reasons, to assist him in finding refuge," Mr. Papandreou
"This attempt failed but Prime Minister Costas Simitis has ordered that any
criminal responsibilities in this affair be investigated," he added.
Greece had not informed its EU partners about the fact that Ocalan had
requested refuge from Greece for one main reason, he said. The European
Union proved not to be in a position to take a joint stand on the
Mr. Papandreou said many "paranoic scenarios" had been published recently
about Greece's supposed links to terrorist acts in Turkey but that the main
issue was a fair and just trial for Abdullah Ocalan.
On Sunday, the EU foreign ministers indicated backing a proposal by Athens
that the 15-nation bloc should adopt a joint approach to the Kurdish
question and seek a fair trial for Ocalan, diplomatic sources said earlier
Greece's newly appointed Foreign Minister George Papandreou told the
ministers that the Kurdish question was not a dispute between Greece and
Turkey, but an issue that involved the fundamental principles of international
law, especially the protection of human rights and the rights of minorities,
the sources said.
A solution to the Kurdish problem would not dispute Turkey's territorial
integrity, they quoted Mr. Papandreou as saying.
He asked the EU to take a joint, public stand on the Kurdish issue, on
humane prison conditions for Ocalan and a fair trial, including access to
the lawyers of his choice, which has so far been denied.
Several EU members have privately indicated their annoyance at Turkey's
diplomatic offensive to have Greece reprimanded by the EU along with other
countries that as Turkey says backed Ocalan's alleged terrorist activities,
the sources said.
In private meetings with his counterparts on the sidelines of Sunday's
session, Mr. Papandreou acknowledged the government's political responsibility
in the outcome of the Ocalan affair, and said that judicial authorities
were looking into possible criminal responsibility.
Given the sensitivity shown by Greek public opinion, Greece had the choice
between going public with the Ocalan issue or assuming the risk of his
flight. It chose the latter, which ended in his capture by Turkey, and the
government was still paying for that choice, the sources quoted Mr.
Papandreou as saying.
Simitis speaks with EU counterparts
Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Sunday contacted his Finnish and Danish
counterparts, informing them of Greece's intention to bring up the issue of
rebel Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan -- who was apprehended by Turkish
secret service agents in Kenya last week after leaving the protection of
the Greek embassy there -- at yesterday's meeting of the EU foreign
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Mr. Simitis had telephone
conversations Sunday with premiers Paavo Lipponen of Finland and Poul
Rasmussen of Denmark, following similar conversations Saturday with
premiers Anto-nio Guterres of Portugal and Goran Persson of Sweden.
Mr. Simitis told his EU counterparts that a just trial and adherence to the
rules of justice must be ensured for Ocalan, the Kurdish leader should be
represented by lawyers of his own choosing, the presence of international
observers at the trial should be ensured, as should Ocalan's physical well-
being, while the prospect of a death sentence should be ruled out, Mr.
Justice minister appeals to EU
In a letter to the presidents of the European Union's Council of Ministers
Otto Schilly and Ms. Gmelin-Debler (the German Interior and Justice
ministers respectively), Greek Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos
called for a fair trial for Ocalan.
In a letter addressed to his counterparts concerning Ocalan, Mr. Yiannopoulos
underlined the inhuman and barbaric living conditions and degradation of
human personality, such as the relevant scenes broadcast worldwide on
Mr. Yiannopoulos called for a fair trial for Ocalan, invoking the UN's
Human Rights proclamation, the International Treaty of Rome, the constitutions
and penal legislation of countries which honour the functioning of "the
democratic principle" and apply in practice the principle of a state of
In a related development, the Union of Judges and Prosecutors has addressed
a letter to the International Union of Judges, calling for its effective
intercession with Turkey's judicial and political authorities to have
humane treatment secured for Ocalan and the carrying out of his trial in
accordance with rules acceptable worldwide.
The letter said that the International Union of Judges was obliged to
demand observance by Turkey of all rules anticipating protection of the
rights of every man, both during the runup process and the main trial
The Union of Judges and Prosecutors said that it will participate with a
representative in a special mission to attend the Ocalan trial.
Greece lashes out at Turkey's fabrications
Greece has lashed out at Turkey over its attack on the government stemming
from the Ocalan affair.
"Using inaccuracy and fabrication Turkey is trying to create a whole
intrigue at Greece's expense. It is building up an outside enemy in order
to divert international attention away from the basic problem, which is
recognition and respect for the rights of the Kurdish people," government
spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Sunday evening.
The spokesman was responding to statements on the same day by Tur-kish
Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.
Mr. Cem had said he expected the European Union to examine the case of
Greece, which he alleged had opposed the bloc's charter, commitments and
"It is audacious for this country to present itself as a prosecutor when it
is illegally occupying half of Cyprus and has to answer to international
law and order for systematically violating the law and flagrantly violating
human rights. Even today it arrested European journalists," Mr. Reppas
He added that Turkey could not avoid its responsibility by hiding behind
slander against Greece.
European lawyers call for fair Ocalan trial
The Union of European Lawyers Associations (CCBE) on Saturday called on
Turkish authorities to give imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan a
fair trial, and refrain from imposing the death sentence.
"Through its participation in the Council of Europe, Turkey has obligations
that mean guaranteeing a fair and open trial in line with the principles of
international law," the CCBE said in a statement.
"It is also obliged to allow Ocalan to choose his own defence lawyers and
agree to give them access. European lawyers are seeking a commitment from
Ankara that the death penalty will not be imposed," the statement
The association's president is Sotirios Yelios, a Greek lawyer.
Papandreou calls for 'cool-headedness'
"The country, united, will confront the problems that have arisen from the
Ocalan issue," Foreign Minister George Papandreou said Sunday.
Speaking in Luxembourg before a two-day EU Foreign Ministers' meeting on
Agenda 2000, the Kosovo crisis and the Kurdish issue, the newly-sworn-in
foreign minister also called for "cool-headedness and seriousness", adding
that "we must rise up to the cir cumstances".
Mr. Papandreou reiterated that he had demanded full clarification of the
Ocalan issue in a "responsible, brave and democratic" manner.
The solution, he warned, would not be found in hasty movements.
Kranidiotis discusses Kosovo problem with Albanian FM
Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis met Sunday with visiting
Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo, for talks that included the latest
developments in the Kosovo crisis in light of the Rambouillet negotiations.
The two men stressed the need for progress in the peace talks in France so
that agreement could be achieved before the expiry of the new deadline
given by the Contact Group, a Foreign Ministry statement said.
Mr. Milo reiterated Albania's positions on the situation in the troubled
Yugoslav province, stressing that the Kosovo Albanians were now more
prepared to accept the agreement than the Serb side, since they desired the
presence of an international peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
Mr. Kranidiotis underscored the critical nature of the situation, warning
that the margins were running out and that the two sides needed to make
every possible effort to reach agreement.
On Greek-Albanian bilateral relations, the two sides confirmed the
excellent level of those relations, which they said was proved by the close
contact and cooperation between the two governments.
In that context, Mr. Milo said Tirana was examining in a positive light the
renewal of the Greek military force's (ELDAL-2) term in Albania, which ends
next month, the ministry announcement said.
SE European audiovisual institutes urge cooperation
Participants in the 1st Meeting of Audiovisual Institutes and other related
organisations from southern and eastern Europe expressed support for the
creation of an information exchange network at the end of the meeting at
the Zappeion Mansion in Athens on Saturday.
Representatives from 32 organisations in the region related to the
audiovisual sector (Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Croatia,
Cyprus, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey) participated in the two-day
meeting. European organisations such as the EUREKA programme, the European
Audiovisual Observatory, the Eurostatistics Service and the Royaumont
Initiative also participated.
The meeting was organised by the Greek Audiovisual Means Institute with the
purpose of promoting a constructive and equal cooperation in the wider
audiovisual sector (radio, television, cinema, video, multimeans and new
Cooperation will concern the circulation of institutional information
(legislation) and statistics on economic and social factors in the European
Political party leaders speak at Ioannina liberation anniversary
Three-day festive events commemorating the 86th anniversary of the
liberation of the city of Ioannina from Ottoman rule heightened on Sunday
with a big parade including troops, schoolchildren and boy scouts.
The government was represented by Minister to the Prime Minister Costas
Geitonas, while at the same time main opposition New Democracy party leader
Costas Karamanlis, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris
Tsovolas and Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras were also
Addressing a banquet of his party's Prefectural Committee in Ioannina on
Saturday night, Mr. Karamanlis once again called for the resignation of
Prime Minister Costas Simitis over the erroneous handling of the issue
concerning Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.
"Mistakes and omissions occur, but tragic mistakes can rarely occur to such
an extent," he said.
Mr. Karamanlis said that all that had happened in past days were degrading
and childish, adding that in Parliament the government had lied to the
parties, Greek society and international public opinion over the Ocalan
In a statement, Mr. Tsovolas said the people felt ashamed and humiliated
over foreign policy and the handling of national issues, primarily taking
place over the past three years.
He said that the Turks and their protectors must realise that the Greek
people and Hellenism will never permit their further ridiculing.
Mr. Tsovolas said that after the recent events the country needs "elections
here and now."
Mr. Samaras said that the people have withdrawn their confidence in Prime
Minister Costas Simitis and that he must realise that his staying in power
can no longer continue.
Swiss tourist goes missing in Crete
Police have launched a search for a Swiss tourist who went missing near
Iraklio on the island of Crete, authorities said on Monday.
The disappearance of the man, identified as Gerard Faton (phonetic
spelling), 49, was reported by a Swiss friend, who told police he
disappeared on Sunday while they were cycling on the Ano Vianno-Pyrgos
The two cyclists were about 150 metres apart when Faton vanished, the
friend said. After failing to locate him, she contacted police.
Local residents are also searching for Faton, who was reportedly seen
cycling from Pyrgos towards the Rethymno road.
The outlook for today is overcast with local rain and storms in the west.
Clouds will clear in the afternoon. Winds southwesterly strong to gale
force, abating in the afternoon. Temperatures in the north will range from
3-10, on the mainland and Ionian 5-16, and in the Aegean 9-17. Athens will
be partly cloudy and windy with possible rain. Same in Thessaloniki.
Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 285.795
Pound sterling 466.657 Japanese yen (100) 238.606
French franc 48.717 German mark 163.390
Italian lira (100) 16.504 Irish Punt 405.761
Belgian franc 7.922 Luxembourg franc 7.922
Finnish mark 53.747 Dutch guilder 145.012
Danish kr. 42.997 Austrian sch. 23.224
Spanish peseta 1.921 Swedish kr. 35.871
Norwegian kr. 36.716 Swiss franc 199.838
Port. Escudo 1.594 Aus. dollar 182.389
Can. dollar 192.408 Cyprus pound 550.560