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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-26

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 26/02/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Turkey using 'Ocalan confessions' to attack Greece
  • Ocalan aide to receive political asylum
  • Nicosia not involved in any way with Ocalan affair
  • MPs call for inquiry into Ocalan case
  • Greece insists on peaceful resolution of Kosovo issue
  • Cyprus EU course on track, spokesman says
  • No injuries in ferry fire
  • One killed as trucks collide on national road
  • British academics protest closure of cultural foundation
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Turkey using 'Ocalan confessions' to attack Greece

Greece on Friday said Turkey was exploiting the 'Ocalan confessions' to the full but that its verbal attacks on Greece would only serve to do harm to itself. "Turkey's psychosis about supposed Greek-PKK relations is not new," government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said. "This is not Ocalan talking but Turkish propaganda". The Turkish press reported on Friday that Ocalan had 'confessed' that the Greek church and businessmen had financed the Kurdish rebel struggle. One claimed that the Greek defence minister was leaking NATO secrets to Russia. "We will be hearing a lot more," Athanassakis predicted. He called the allegations about the defence minister "laughable".

Ocalan aide to receive political asylum

Three aides to captured Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan have called off a news conference scheduled for Friday following talks with Kurdish representatives here, a Greek official said. The three women were brought to Greece on Thursday night from the Greek embassy in Nairobi where they had sought refuge after Ocalan was seized by Turkish forces on February 15. Public Order Ministry secretary-general Dimitris Efstathiades told reporters that three had decided to call off their press conference for the time being. Estathiades said one of the women would receive political asylum from Greece by the end of the day.

Nicosia not involved in any way with Ocalan affair

Cyprus has no involvement whatsoever in the Ocalan affair despite claims by some to the contrary, Cypriot government spokesman Christos Stylianides said in Athens on Friday. "Cyprus is always a strong supporter of the defence of human rights and the cultural identity of each people and supports the demand for just trial for Abdullah Ocalan," he told reporters at a press conference. He said however there was a possibility that the Ocalan affair could be "used as an alibi for a lack of developments" in resolving the issue of the Turkish occupation of a third of Cyprus. "The intransigence of the Turkish side is not at all helpful," he said. Turkish officials said they found a Cypriot passport on Ocalan when he was arrested in Nairobi.

MPs call for inquiry into Ocalan case

Ruling party MPs on Friday submitted a proposal to Parliament that it establish a fact-finding commission on the Ocalan affair. The proposal, signed by 116 PASOK MPs from the 300-member House, said the entry of Abdullah Ocalan to Greece, his stay in the Greek embassy in Kenya and his capture by Turkish forces at Nairobi's airport had caused "serious concerns in public opinion". It said the ruling party and government would continue to insist on the need for a full disclosure of the truth of the affair. Among the signatories to the proposal are PASOK secretary Costas Skandalides and former foreign minister Theodore Pangalos, who resigned over the affair.

Greece insists on peaceful resolution of Kosovo issue

Greece has not consented to a NATO intervention in the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo, national defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in parliament on Friday. Responding to a question tabled by a Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy, Tsohatzopulos said that, quite the contrary, Athens "has made it clear that the Kosovo issue requires a peaceful, political and diplomatic solution". "We accept the use of NATO as a means of pressure, but if the international community decides to authorise the Alliance to intervene for implementation of the Rambouillet agreement, Greece will not participate," the defence minister said. He added that the 1,500- strong force despatched to FYROM via Thessaloniki was being deployed to protect international observers in Kosovo.

Cyprus EU course on track, spokesman says

Cyprus has passed the initial phase in the European Union's procedure for inclusion in the 15-nation bloc with flying colours, according to Cypriot government spokesman Christos Stylianides. "Cyprus has successfully passed the initial tests," Stylianides told reporters in Athens. Talks between the EU and Cyprus began on November 10, following a six-month preliminary period. "Whenever the EU believes it is ready to expansion, Cyprus will be there," he said, adding that Cyprus was at a very good stage vis-a-vis harmonisation with Community member-states. He said that Cyprus was clearly leading in regard to other candidate countries for expansion, a fact pointed out during a recent meeting with EU external relations commissioner Hans van den Broek.

No injuries in ferry fire

All 291 passengers and 75 crewmembers of a ferry that caught fire late last night off Karystos were safe and accounted for, the merchant marine ministry said Friday. Fire broke out from as yet undetermined reasons on the car/passenger ferry "SAPPHO" shortly before midnight as it was sailing three nautical miles south off Cape Mantili in Karystos, on Evia island, as it was heading for the islands of Chios and Mytilene. The ferry, one of the oldest in the Greek coastal fleet, was being towed back to the port of Piraeus from where it had set off last night, and was due about noon.

One killed as trucks collide on national road

One person was killed when a truck with Turkish licence plates carrying illegal immigrants and driven by a Turkish national collided early Friday with another truck on the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway, police said. They said the Istanbul-registered truck, driven by 38-year-old Nedim Auaz and was carrying 21 illegal immigrants -- 12 Iraqis and 9 Bangladeshis -- and en route from the Evros border region to Athens, collided with a Greek truck near Pieriea, northern Greece. Iraqi illegal immigrant Jermian Bachroz, 26, was fatally injured in the crash. The nine Bangladeshi immigrants fled into the surrounding farmland, taking advantage of the confusion that followed the crash, police said. Pieria police arrested the 11 Iraqis and the Turkish driver, and confiscated the truck.

British academics protest closure of cultural foundation

Prominent British professors and academics in a letter have called on Foreign Minister George Papandreou to rescind a Greek government decision suspending the operation of a branch of the Hellenic Culture Foundation in London. They said the branch's closure "will significantly weaken the presence of Greek culture in Britan". The letter was signed by professors from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and from London University's Kings College In a similar letter to the Greek foreign minister, the President of the London-based Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee, Ioannis Hatzipateras, termed the move as a "grave mistake" and said that the closure would "deprive" the British capital of a highly interesting, "as has been proven by its activity up to now", Greek presence.

WEATHER

Cloudy weather and local rain will prevail in most parts of Greece today. Sporadic snowfall in the mountainous regions. Winds variable, moderate to strong in the Aegean and Ionian seas. Athens will be sunny with small possibility of rain and temperatures between 5-14C. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3-9C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 290.051 Pound sterling 465.050 Japanese yen (100) 240.590 French franc 48.795 German mark 163.653 Italian lira (100) 16.531 Irish Punt 406.416 Belgian franc 7.935 Luxembourg franc 7.935 Finnish mark 53.834 Dutch guilder 145.246 Danish kr. 43.051 Austrian sch. 23.261 Spanish peseta 1.923 Swedish kr. 35.664 Norwegian kr. 36.807 Swiss franc 201.262 Port. Escudo 1.596 Aus. dollar 182.057 Can. dollar 193.142 Cyprus pound 550.481 Euro 320.079

(M.P.)


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