Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-25
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 25/02/1999 (ANA)
- Gov't examines strategy in the wake of Ocalan affair
- Stocks surge on assurance Greece still heading for EMU
- Opportunities for domestic banks to extend business
- Christodoulakis cites stability factor in Greek economy
- Greek merchant fleet reported as world's largest
- Kranidiotis regarding Ocalan's rights, int'l reaction
- Turkish-Greek business council suspends joint activities
- Amnesty International demands fair Ocalan trial, treatment
- Yiannopoulos remarks about Greek agent spark reactions
- Papantoniou warns against 'circles' attempting to undermine gov't
- Ankara entangles Ocalan affair in Greek-Turkish relations
- French, British forces land in Thessaloniki en route to FYROM
- Documentary details efforts to save Greek Jewry during WWII
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Gov't examines strategy in the wake of Ocalan affair
Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired yesterday a meeting of the inner
cabinet and ruling PASOK's political secretariat, convened to examine
developments in the wake of the controversial Ocalan affair and the
The meeting focused on practical aspects - including the safe passage out
of Kenya of Greek citizens and the three Ocalan companions still holed up
at the Greek embassy in Nairobi - as well as government strategy both on
dealing with the negative effects of the capture of the Kurdish rebel
leader after his stay at the Greek embassy and other issues.
According to government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, the PASOK government is
proceeding with business as usual. This includes hol-ding PASOK's congress
in March as scheduled, the holding of European Parliament elections in June
and continuing to work towa rds the country's inclusion in Economic and
Monetary Union in 2000.
The next national elections, he said, will be in 2000, as scheduled.
He said that talks were underway to ensure the safe and secure transport of
the three female associates of Ocalan still in the Greek embassy in
"The Greek government is in continuous contact with the Kenya government on
this issue," he said.
The spokesman added that the prime minister will hold separate meetings
with his European counterparts on the sidelines of the special European
Union summit in Bonn tomorrow to inform them on the Ocalan affair.
In a related development, Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Pavlos
Apostolidis left for Nairobi yesterday evening for talks with Kenyan
He is scheduled to meet with the Kenyan foreign undersecretary this morning
to discuss the safe passage of a Greek agent and two out of three Ocalan
companions, to whom Greece has granted political asylum.
Stocks surge on assurance Greece still heading for EMU
Equity prices rebounded yesterday, recovering all of the previous session's
losses after assurances given by the prime minister that the government was
steadfast in its aim of entering EMU on January 1, 2001.
Traders said the premier's statements restored the market's confidence in
domestic political stability.
Also helping sentiment were the avoidance so far of Western military action
in Kosovo, gains in international markets and a further drop in domestic
The general index ended 7.14 percent, or 218 points up at 3270.05 points,
recovering more than half its 12 percent drop since the Ocalan affair broke
Turnover was 119.1 billion drachmas and volume 23,564,729 shares.
Sector indices scored gains. Banks soared 7.9 percent, Leasing rose 7.9
percent, Insurance ended 5.31 percent up, Investment surged 7.53 percent,
Construction jumped 7.45 percent, Industrials ended 7.43 percent higher,
Miscellaneous ended 7.21 percent up and Holding rose 4.53 percent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 6.0 percent, while
the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 7.01 percent up at 2,051.72.
National Bank of Greece ended at 19,980 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 32,
832, Ergobank at 22,970, Ionian Bank at 16,300, Titan Cement at 22,315,
Hellenic Petroleum at 2,592, Intracom at 19,699, Minoan Lines at 7,641,
Panafon at 9,530 and Hellenic Telecoms at 8,000. Electronic trade was 137
Opportunities for domestic banks to extend business
The deputy governor of National Bank of Greece, Nikos Karamouzis, said
yesterday that domestic banks had great leeway to expand their business
both at home and abroad, focused on the Balkans.
At the same time, a concrete long-term strategy was needed, said Mr.
Karamouzis, addressing a finance conference held by the Hellenic British
Chamber of Commerce and the British Embassy.
Mr. Karamouzis also underlined the importance of banking services stemming
from the Internet, such as web banking.
Helping to organise the conference were the Union of Greek Banks and Athens
Christodoulakis cites stability factor in Greek economy
Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis stressed yesterday that over
the past few years Greece has created a stable economy capable of
withstanding international turmoil and crises.
He was addressing an economic conference organised by the Hellenic British
Chamber of Commerce and the British embassy.
Mr. Christodoulakis said the Greek economy will not be affected by the
recent political developments (Ocalan affair) in the country, on the
contrary its position will be strengthened thanks to the PASOK government's
insistence on a convergence policy.
He added that the finance ministry does not intend from now on to fund the
public deficit with bond issues featuring a fluctuating interest rate. On
the contrary, it will issue 20-year bonds for the first time by June.
Mr. Christodoulakis further said that the gradual enlargement of the
domestic bonds market constitutes the ministry's policy and for this
purpose contacts are already taking place with the administrations of
insurance companies and insurance funds.
Greek merchant fleet reported as world's largest
Greece was proclaimed the largest shipping power in the world during 1998
with a transport capacity of 123.8 million tonnes.
Greece also holds a 17.6 per cent stake of the international total,
according to the Journal of Commerce in a report from Geneva.
International sea trade increased by 2.2 per cent last year, 1.7 per cent
less than in 1997, primarily due to the Asian crisis.
Kranidiotis regarding Ocalan's rights, int'l reaction
The internationalisation of the issue of the conditions of detention and
the forthcoming trial of Abdullah Ocalan is a particularly important
development, Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said yesterday,
after reports of an announcement by the European Court of Human Rights.
"The top judicial organ of the Council of Europe, the new European Court of
Human Rights, taking into account the seriousness of claims by Ocalan's
lawyers, has decided to ask Turkish authorities clarifications related to
the arrest and detention of the
Kurdish leader, as well as the speedy provision of information with regard
to the possibility of communication with his lawyers," he said.
Mr. Kranidiotis added that other statements, by the EU Council of Ministers,
the external affairs committee of the European Parliament, and the Special
United Nations Rappporteur Against Torture, have reminded Turkey of the
evident principles for a true democracy which it has to uphold in the
specific case, such as a fair and open trial by an independent court, the
right to chose one's lawyer, attendance of international observers, non-
application of the death penalty, safeguards regarding the physical and
psychological integrity of the Kurdish leader and respect for his human
"Greece will promote at an international level the need for Turkey to
respect. Turkey's non-compliance with the requirements of the European
legal order and worldwide recognised rules which establish the fundamental
right of man and constitute non-negot iable conquests of our modern legal
culture, isolates it from the international community," he said.
Turkish-Greek business council suspends joint activities
The Turkish-Greek business council board,headed by Turkish entrepreneur
Rahim Koc, yesterday sided with Ankara's handling of the Kurdish issue.
During a press conference in Istanbul, Mr. Koc said the council cancelled
all joint Greek-Turkish activities planned within the council's framework.
"We expect of Greek business circles, the intelligentsia...who until this
date succumbed without discussio n to the predisposed policy of their
government, to act logically toward the interest of their country and
distance themselves from the constant mistaken judgements," he added.
Amnesty International demands fair Ocalan trial, treatment
Amnesty International (AI) called on Turkey yesterday to abolish the death
penalty by signing the relevant protocol of the EU convention, while it
urged the Turkish national assembly to observe its moratorium on the
In a letter sent to Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, the international
human rights advocacy organisation stressed that international standards of
delivering justice must be observed in the trial of Kurdish leader Abdullah
AI said that concerns over a fair trial for the Kurdish leader were
levelled from the moment and the way in which Mr. Ocalan was arrested, and
continue to exist during his questioning. It also expressed concerns for
the fact that Mr. Ocalan was not allo wed to consult with his legal defence
since he was handed over to the Turks.
AI further reminded the Turkish PM that the international community will
judge the fairness of the PKK leader's trial under international human
Yiannopoulos remarks about Greek agent spark reactions
A justice ministry official yesterday claimed that Justice Minister
Evangelos Yiannopoulos never "adopted the view" that Greek Intelligence
Service (EYP) officer Savvas Kalenderidis is an agent for Israel's
Mr. Kalenteridis was dispatched to the Greek embassy in Nairobi to provide
protection to Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan during his stay. He has yet to
return to Greece and is still holed up at the embassy along with three of
Ministry special secretary Argyris Sideris made the statement in a letter
of response to a stinging press release by the Federation of Pontian (Black
Sea) Associations of Northern Greece, which protested a reference to that
effect by Mr. Yiannopoulos du ring a televised interview on Tuesday
"The press release in question is unacceptably insulting and misleading.
Mr. Yiannopoulos did not adopt the allegations of Kalenderidis' relations
with Mossad, but repeated a view, a rumour of specific people, which was
published in the daily press and has not been denied," he said.
The federation's press release stressed that "the minister's views
constituted an insult to Greek officers, whose uniform Savvas Kalenderidis
has honoured without a shadow of a doubt".
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas earlier yesterday said Mr. Yiannopoulos
had only repeated a rumour and had not indicated that he believed this
Mr. Reppas added that all the issues related to this specific rumour would
be examined within the context of an inquiry on the Ocalan affair,
currently under way in the courts. Commenting on the same issue, main
opposition New Democracy spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos called on the prime
minister to immediately release all evidence proving "these untenable
allegations, manufactured by people close to the government in EYP."
Papantoniou warns against 'circles' attempting to undermine gov't
National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou lashed out yesterday at what
he called "circles attempting to harvest petty partisan gains by undermining
Delivering a speech at a gathering in the western Athens municipality of
Peristeri, Mr. Papantoniou referred to the controversial Ocalan affair and
condemned what he called "irresponsible games being played on the back of
"We are and we will be on the side of the Kurdish people, on the side of
liberation movements," he said, adding that the PASOK government had "clear
intentions" and wished to help.
However, he admitted that "the handling of the case was not effective, and
that is why responsibilities have been undertaken," apparently referring to
the dismissal of three key ministers last week.
Mr. Papantoniou also attacked the main opposition New Democracy party,
accusing it of preparing to win the 2000 elections by appropriating for its
own benefit the successes of PASOK's economic policy.
Ankara entangles Ocalan affair in Greek-Turkish relations
The Greek foreign ministry yesterday accused Turkey of making a coordinated
attempt to entangle the Ocalan issue in Greek-Turkish relations.
"In the knowledge that it is accountable before the international community
for the violation of basic human rights, not only of minorities, but also
of those who disagree with its authoritarian policy, Ankara has launched a
coordinated attempt to shi ft the issue, entangling it in Greek-Turkish
relations," a statement said.
It further stressed that Greece would not follow the tactics of indiscriminate
accusations used against it by Turkey.
"The Greek side cannot but fend off any attempt at converting an internal
Turkish problem into a Greek-Turkish difference. At the same time, the
Greek government, in the face of a barrage of of baseless and unsupportable
accusatios against Greece, has no other option but to remind that the
international community and the European Union have asked Turkey not to
violate internatinoal law, not to violate international treaties and the
rules determining relations of good neighbourliness and mutual respect,
avoiding the threats of use of military force which it launches against its
neighbours from time to time," the statement added.
"The position of the Greek government concering the problem of southeastern
Turkey is most clear. It is fully expressed by the recent statement of the
EU, which expects Turkey to comply with its obligations as a member of the
Council of Europe and resolve the problem through political means, with
full respect for human rights and the principles of the rule of law which
pertain to democratic societies," the statement read.
French, British forces land in Thessaloniki en route to FYROM
Six British C-130 transport planes landed at Macedonia Airport in
Thessaloniki yesterday carrying troops and 60 vehicles, all destined for
the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), where they will be
stationed pending possible NATO orders to head for the strife-torn Yugoslav
province of Kosovo.
Two French Airbuses carrying 10 vehicles and 140 personnel and an American
Tri-Star carrying 225 British troops also landed at the airport yesterday.
Meanwhile, the French vessel "Foudre" arrived at the port of Thessaloniki
in the afternoon carrying 130 vehicles and 500 troops, also destined for
At the same time, Greek armed forces at Litohoro were preparing to receive
three US vessels carrying marines for the projected NATO force in
Documentary details efforts to save Greek Jewry during WWII
The Greek embassy in Washington yesterday organised a joint event with the
American Jewish Committee (AJC) for the screening of a documentary entitled
"It was nothing, It was everything."
The documentary recounts the heroic efforts of several Greeks during World
War II to save Greek Jews from Nazi occupiers.
The event was attended by several members of the US administration, special
US State Department coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Miller, and the House of
Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ben Gilman, as well as
about 70 AJC members.
Actress Irene Papas is featured as the main narrator of the documentary.
Greek ambassador Alexandros Filon, in his address, referred to Greece's
struggle and sacrifices against the Axis powers during WWII.
Cloudy weather and local rain will prevail in most parts of Greece today.
Snowfall in the mountainous regions of central and northern Greece. Winds
westerly, southwesterly, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny with
possibility of rain in the evening and temperatures between 6-15C.
Scattered showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3-9C.
Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 290.458
Pound sterling 465.208 Japanese yen (100) 239.489
French franc 48.757 German mark 163.522
Italian lira (100) 16.518 Irish Punt 406.089
Belgian franc 7.928 Luxembourg franc 7.928
Finnish mark 53.790 Dutch guilder 145.129
Danish kr. 43.019 Austrian sch. 23.243
Spanish peseta 1.922 Swedish kr. 35.867
Norwegian kr. 36.980 Swiss franc 200.766
Port. Escudo 1.595 Aus. dollar 183.222
Can. dollar 193.182 Cyprus pound 550.560