Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-25
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 25/02/1999 (ANA)
- Embassy four en route to Athens
- Foreign ministry secures safe passage
- FM confers with U.S. envoy
- Greece dismisses Turkish allegations
- Defence minister slams Turkish tactics
- Justice minister called into Ocalan inquiry
- President to visit Uzbekistan
- Cretan police scour island for 21 fugitives
- Earthquake on Crete registers 4.1
- 12 illegal immigrants arrested
- Three Romanian burglars nabbed
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Embassy four en route to Athens
Three aides to captured Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan and a Greek
intelligence officer were en route to Athens from Nairobi after the Greek
foreign ministry negotiated their safe passage out of Kenya. Foreign
Minister George Papandreou on Thursday authorised a foreign ministry
official in Kenya to begin the operation to bring four people back to
Athens. The four have been holed up at the Greek embassy in Kenya since
early last week when Turkish secret service agents nabbed Ocalan en route
to the airport after spending 12 days at the embassy.
Foreign ministry secures safe passage
Papandreou led a high-level meeting at the interior ministry coordinating
the operation to get the four people out of Kenya. At the meeting were
Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos,
Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and Public Order Minister
Michalis Chrysohoides. "There is a written assurance from the Kenyan side
for the safety of the four people who remained in our embassy in Nairobi,"
Papandreou said. He said he had talks with his European Union counterparts
who confirmed their support over the issue. Two cars from the Kenyan
foreign ministry were to lead the motorcade to the airport, with another
four containing Kenyan police following. The Swedish consul was present at
the Nairobi airport, while the Belgian ambassador followed the cars with
the four people to the airport.
FM confers with U.S. envoy
Foreign Minister George Papandreou had a nearly hour-long meeting today
with US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns during which, according to
sources, Papandreou briefed the envoy on Athens' efforts to secure safe
passage for four persons holed up at the Greek embassy in Nairobi.
Papandreou briefed Burns on Greece's views on the Ocalan issue, reiterating
that Athens did not want the issue to be turned into a Greek-Turkish affair
but should be handled in light of the need for respect of human rights. The
two men also discussed recent developments in Kosovo given the imminent
agreement between Serbia and Kosovo Albanians at the Rambuillet talks, the
Greece dismisses Turkish allegations
Greece on Thursday dismissed a volley of charges from Turkey over its role
in the Ocalan affair, saying Turkey had best deal with its problems, such
as the rights of the Kurdish people. "These charges are baseless,"
government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in response to questions about
Turkish claims that Greece aided and abetted Abdullah Ocalan's Kurdistan
Worker's Party (PKK). Prime Minister Costas Simitis has written to his 14
European Union counterparts about the issue, he added. Simitis will be
seeing his counterparts at Friday's EU summit.
Defence minister slams Turkish tactics
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos today accused Turkey of using
wrong tactics and falling into a dangerous path in verbally escalating
tension with Greece on the pretext of the Ocalan issue, for the purpose of
concealing its own responsibilities. Speaking at the Elefsis Shipyards
during the delivery of the tank carrier "Lesvos" to the Greek Navy,
Tsohatzopoulos said that Turkey, which occupied the northern sector of the
Republic of Cyprus, used its military strenth and violence to invade
neighbouring states and used state violence in order to achieve calm
domestically, was in no position to accuse Greece of being identified with
terrorism. "Turkey totally lacks the credibility to charge Greece of having
any relationship with terrorism," he said. "It is Turkey which is
being judged in the Ocalan case. it is Turkey that must prove that it is
in a position to apply international law and respect human rights if
it desires a prospect of convergence with the European Union and
cooperation with the neighbouring peoples," Tsohatzopoulos said.
Justice minister called into Ocalan inquiry
Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos will be called in to testify to the
court inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the illegal entry of
Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan to Greece, a court official said.
Yiannopoulos is being subpoened over remarks made during a television
interview earlier this week in which he said a Greek intelligence officer
despatched to the Greek embassy in Nairobi to provide security for Ocalan
was actually in the pay of the Israeli secret service. The inquiry into the
circumstances of how Ocalan was brought to Greece without the prior
knowledge of the government was ordered last week, in the wake of the news
that Ocalan had been captured in Kenya by Turkish security forces. On
Thursday, former public order minister Philippos Petsalnikos, who lost his
job over the affair, testified over his involvement in the matter.
President to visit Uzbekistan
President Costis Stephanopoulos begins a three-day official visit to
Uzbekistan on Monday, at the invitation of his counterpart Islam Karimof.
Greece and Uzbekistan signed a friendship and cooperation pact and a series
of cooperation agreements in commerce, technology, training and tourism
when Karimof visited Greece on April 1, 1997. Newly appointed Deputy
Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis will accompany the Greek president on his
Cretan police scour island for 21 fugitives
Police on the island of Crete have launched a manhunt to locate 21 foreign
convicts who escaped from the Neapolis prision in Lassithi, police said
today. They said it was discovered during the morning roll call that a
Romanian and 20 Albanian prisoners were missing. The escapees had been
incarcerated in a corridor in the northwest division of the prison that had
been turned into a cell. Police said the convicts had used a saw-blade to
cut the cell's bars. Most of the convicts were serving long sentences, they
said. The prison, designed to hold 60 inmates, currently houses 140
Earthquake on Crete registers 4.1
An earthquake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale rocked northeastern Crete
early today, but no injuries or damage were reported. The quake struck at
12:47 a.m., with its epicentre in the sea east of Iraklion, the Athens
Geodynamics Institute said.
12 illegal immigrants arrested
Twelve illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq were arrested
today on a remote beach on the island of Kos, local harbour authorities
said. The immigrants told the harbour authorities that they had been
transported from the Turkish coast in a green speedboat driven by a
Pakistani, and disembarked at dawn on a beach in the Psalidi area. The
immigrants said they had paid an unidentified Turk 2,000 dollars each.
Three Romanian burglars nabbed
Three Romanian nationals were arrested early today as they tried to burgle
a jeweller's shop in the Kolonos suburb in western Athens, police said.
They said Nikosov Nastazen, 31, Nicolae Valean, 28 and Stefan Dohorea, 29,
were arrested after the alarm went off in a jewelry shop they broke into,
while a fourth accomplice escaped. The detainees entered the jewlery shop
after digging a hole in the wall between the shop and an abandoned two-
storey house they had broken into. The three were found with burglary tools
in their posession.
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