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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-28

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, 28/02/1999 (ANA)

NEWS HEADLINES

  • PM lashes back at allegations Greece aided in Ocalan capture
  • Court inquiry into Ocalan case due to end Sunday
  • Ocalan aide alleges Greek officials took part in capture plot
  • Greece rejects Ocalan aide's allegations
  • Gov't denies former FM visited Kenya to discuss Ocalan capture
  • Main opposition calls for elections over Ocalan affair
  • Defence minister calls ruling party to rally after Ocalan affair
  • Greece says defence smear campaign fell flat
  • Simitis: '15' EU leaders demand fair, open trial for Ocalan
  • Greece has not consented to NATO intervention in Kosovo
  • Stocks end slightly up after dizzy week
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    PM lashes back at allegations Greece aided in Ocalan capture

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Sunday lashed back after an aide to captured Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan alleged Greece handed Ocalan over to Turkey.

    "Some people are attempting to blacken the image of Greece," Simitis said.

    "Greece over the years has helped to its cost those who are persecuted and suffering. Look around you at the thousands of Kurds, the hundreds of thousands of Albanians and compare Greece to the other countries of the European Union.

    "In the case of Ocalan, every possible humanitarian assistance was offered and we had clarified well before, to all, that it would be a tragic and strategic mistake for Greece to accept the 'Kurd-isation' of Greek-Turkish relations and foreign policy," he said.

    "The government remains unswervingly committed to creating a strong Greece in the face of the swarms of those who slander it for super-patriotic reasons, condemn our policies... (people) who nobody knows where they come from and what purposes they serve.

    "We will hold high Greece's prospects, which we want to be equal to the procedures of European unification, to have a role in the Balkans and a voice in the world.

    "This is what they do not want, but they will not succeed and we will surely and steadily continue our policies," he said.

    Court inquiry into Ocalan case due to end Sunday

    The court inquiry into the circumstances of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan's entry and stay in Greece is expected to wind up on Sunday, with the testimony of Greece's ambassador to Nairobi, George Costoulas.

    Sources close to the inquiry by three state prosecutors said there was a likelihood that Greek intelligence officer Savvas Kalenderidis, dispatched to Nairobi to provide protection for Ocalan, would be asked to make further statements to the inquiry.

    The three Ocalan aides evacuated from the Greek embassy last week along with Kalenderidis and Costoulas completed their six-hour testimony early this morning.

    Ocalan aide alleges Greek officials took part in capture plot

    Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdulah Ocalan aide Dylan Semse Kilits on Satruday claimed that Prime Minister Costas Simitis, former Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, former Public Order Minister Philippos Pestalinikos and the head of the Greek secret service played an active role in realising the plans of the United States, Israel and Turkey, regarding Ocalan's fate.

    Kilits reiterated earlier PKK allegations, failling however to provide evidence for the accusations leveled against the Greek, U.S., Israeli, Russian and Kenyan governments, during a press conference in an Athens hotel.

    Kilits, who is a Belgian passport holder, requested several times that the reasons for Mr. Pagalos' visit to Kenya more than one and a half month ago.

    She also said that "such an important issue (as the Ocalan case) it could not have been possible for the premier not to know."

    Kilits also noted that Turkish newspaper reports she did not identify reported that the US$50 million reward the Turkish government had posted was paid to secret services she also did not identify.

    She repeatedly accused the US, Israel and Turkey of conspiracy and added that the Greek government was part of the successful efforts to capture Ocalan.

    Kilits one of the three Ocalan aids to be flown to Greece from Kenya spoke through a translator, while the other two women, Nucan Derya, 23 and Melsa Deniz, 19, who were given political asylum in Greece were not present.

    Greece rejects Ocalan aide's allegations

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas on Saturday said that Greece is a democratic country and will always allow the right of free speach to all, however he added that Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) official Dylan Semse Kilits' statements equalled to the most obscene Turkish propaganda and can not be tolerated.

    Kilits, a Belgian passport holder, was one of the three aids of PKK leader Abdulah Ocalan, now a prisoner in Turkey. She held a press conference earlier in the day claiming Greek government collusion in Ocalan's apprehension.

    Reppas said "Greece is a democratic country, and because of that we will never stop offering humanitarian assistance to all oppressed peoples.

    "Greece, as a democratic country will not stop allowing the right to persons such as Ms. Kilits to freely express theirm opinions. From that point on, however, and exactly because Greece is a democratic country, the anti-Greece raving of Ms Kilits - with the adoptation of the most odscene Turkish propaganda - can not be tolerated," he added.

    Reppas also said that "many are the questions left unanswered, (and) for this reason her role must be clarified."

    Finally, he called on all foreign nationals "to respect the country, which hosts them and offers them the conditions for a better life. Furthermore we call them to stop claim for roles, which belong only to the sovereign Greek people."

    Gov't denies former FM visited Kenya to discuss Ocalan capture

    The foreign ministry on Sunday denied that former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos had visited Kenya to discuss a deal to hand over Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, as charged by an Ocalan aide on Saturday.

    Pangalos made an official visit to Africa in November 1998 that was organised at the beginning of the year and announced to reporters in May, a statement from the foreign ministry spokesman said.

    "The official visit of the former foreign minister, Theodoros Pangalos, to Africa was used in an unacceptable manner during the press conference on Saturday," the statement said.

    "It is beyond any sense and imagining that an official visit organised at the beginning of the previous year and announced to journalists in May could have any relationship to the events which followed much later."

    "A search of our records reveals that preparations for the trip were made well in advance, while the programme had been distributed by mid-August. This programme illustrates the trip was set for November 16-20, to Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia," the statement said.

    In a press conference in Athens on Saturday, one of Ocalan's aides repeatedly intimated that Pangalos's visit to Kenya in November was linked to an intricate plot between Athens, Washington, Tel Aviv and Ankara to capture the rebel Kurd leader.

    Main opposition calls for elections over Ocalan affair

    Main opposition leader Costas Karamanlis said on Sunday he could not believe claims by an associate of captured Kurd rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan that Greece handed him over to Turkey but that the damage to the country's standing had been done and the government should resign.

    "I refuse to believe that a Greek politician and prime minister of the country, at that, would do such a dishonourable thing for the country and the nation," Karamanlis said on Crete, during a tour of the island.

    He was referring to statements by Ocalan aide Sesme (Dillan) Kilic, evacuated from the Greek embassy in Kenya earlier in the week, that the Greek government had worked with the U.S., Turkey, Israel and Russia to bring Ocalan into Turkish custody.

    Karamanlis's New Democracy party reiterated its demand that the prime minister resign, with party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos saying that only this could "save the country's prestige."

    Mikis Theodorakis, the composer of such classics as Zorba the Greek, said he and his orchestra would not be participating in a planned solidarity with the Kurds concert on Monday evening, following Kilic's claims.

    "Greece has never found itself on the side of the oppressors but has always supported the oppressed and the victims," Theodorakis said on Saturday evening.

    He called Kilic's comments "slanderous and ungrateful" and that the "unsubstantiated claims heard (from Kilic) are not relevant only to Mr. Simitis and Mr. Pangalos but to the entire Greek people".

    In statements later on Saturday, after testifying to a court inquiry on the details of the Ocalan affair, Kilic said her comments had been misinterpreted and thanked the Greek people and Foreign Minister George Papandreou for their help.

    Defence minister calls ruling party to rally after Ocalan affair

    Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Sunday called on supporters of the ruling PASOK party to work together to turn around the heavy atmosphere clinging to the government in the wake of the Ocalan affair.

    Tsohatzopoulos was speaking to reporters as about 215,000 members of the PASOK rank and file went to the polls to elect 5,500 delegates for the party's national convention later in March.

    Tsohatzopoulos said the party had to look at "new formations" that would clear the atmosphere in the wake of the capture of the Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan by Turkish forces after being sheltered in the Greek embassy in Nairobi for 12 days.

    "European Parliament elections (in June) will be a touchstone for the evaluation of the government's course," he said. This evaluation, he believed, "will not be particularly good and no better result will be forthcoming if there are not changes throughout the party's levels."

    He said he was opposed to the party adopting a position that the same government policies continue, even with certain corrective measures.

    "We need changes and if we do not lead the country to a positive outcome, we will all fall together," he said.

    The handling of the Ocalan affair had been harmful for both people and country, leaving "heavy national and political scars".

    Turkey is increasing the level of tension in relations with Greece with verbal attacks, he said.

    "The defence ministry has taken all the necessary measures to deal with any eventuality," he added.

    Greece says defence smear campaign fell flat

    Greece's defence ministry on Saturday issued a press release stressing that attempts to upset Greek-U.S. relations in the defence sector fell through, following US officials' denials of any Greek government involvement in transferring NATO technology to Russia.

    According to a report in the "Washington Post", the administration reportedly halted arms sales to Greece in early February following allegations by Turkey that Athens was transferring classified NATO codes to Russia. US Pentagon officials, however, concluded that all of Turkey's unsubstantiated claims against Greece "were unfounded".

    The Greek defence ministry stated that "Greece promotes its defence policy based on national interest, adhering at the same time to the terms of cooperation with its NATO allies, as every other member-state of the alliance."

    Simitis: '15' EU leaders demand fair, open trial for Ocalan

    BONN (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that he raised the issue of implementing decisions taken at a recent Council of Ministers' meeting regarding the detention of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan in Turkey.

    Speaking after a special EU summit in Petersberg, outside of Bonn, he said the "15" had agreed that Ocalan's trial should be open, based on the principles of the rule of law, with a free selection of his lawyers and with full respect for human rights.

    The Greek PM made the statement at a press conference shortly after the end of the summit, where the main issues discussed were the Ocalan affair and the Union's fiscal prospects within the framework of "Agenda 2000".

    "The course of Turkey's relationship with Europe will largely depend on the stand it will adopt on the Ocalan issue," he said, stressing that this view prevailed among the other EU leaders, and that they would stress to Ankara at both the Community and bilateral level the need to respect the principles of the rule of law.

    "The European Union is a Community not only of interests but also of values, irrespective of the fact that national expediencies often determine the policies of statesIOca-lan's trial should be treated by the EU on the basis of political, democratic and humanitarian principles on which the edifice of the European Union was established," he added.

    The Greek prime minister held separate meetings with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, French President Jacques Chirac, as well as the prime ministers of Italy, Massimo d' Alema and Spain, Jose Maria Aznar.

    He announced that Mr. Aznar replied that he had already contacted Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, stressing the need for a fair judicial procedure for Ocalan. Regarding discussions on "Agenda 2000", the Greek premier stressed that the basic qu estion was what resources should be devoted to the Community budget and how faster growth rates would be achieved.

    With particular reference to the issue of reforming CAP, Mr. Simitis stressed Greece agreed with the view that spending in the agricultural sector could be restricted.

    Finally, he said Athens was in favour of negotiations on the Community's fiscal prospects, closing at the special summit in Berlin next month.

    According to the proposal, reflecting a particularly restrictive German view on the size of EU budgets, expenses for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will amount to 283 billion euros, while the expenses for structural policies will be in the region of 220 billion euro for the period. France, which is partially in agreement with the proposals, has called for the avoidance of "generous" cutbacks in CAP funds.

    Greece has not consented to NATO intervention in Kosovo

    Greece has not consented to a NATO intervention in the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in Parliament yesterday.

    Responding to a question tabled by a Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy, Mr. 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 Greek defence minister emphasised.

    He added that a 1,500-strong force dispatched to FYROM via Thessaloniki was being deployed to protect international observers in Kosovo.

    Stocks end slightly up after dizzy week

    Share prices ended the last trading session of a highly volatile week slightly higher on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday.

    The general index ended 0.24 percent up at 3,377.58 points for a net gain of 3.96 percent on the week.

    The index broke through the 3,400-point level early in the session but fell later on profit-taking.

    Turnover was 123.8 billion drachmas and volume 26,027,645 shares.

    Activity focused on small and medium-sized capitalisation stocks and shares in the textiles sector with nine stocks hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

    Sector indices scored gains.

    Banks rose 0.49 percent, Leasing fell 1.88 percent, Insurance was 0.87 percent up, Industrials eased 0.03 percent, Miscellaneous increased 0.50 percent, Holding rose 1.26 percent, Construction jumped 4.44 percent and Investment soared 3.13 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 4.95 percent up, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index dropped 0.01 percent to 2,109.37.

    WEATHER

    Mostly fair weather is forecast around the country on Monday with cloud in the west and north. Temperatures in Athens ranging from 5C to 17C and in Thessaloniki from 1C to 13C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 289.714 Pound sterling 463.621 Japanese yen (100) 241.254 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. 35.478 Norwegian kr. 36.700 Swiss franc 200.850 Port. Escudo 1.593 Aus. dollar 179.577 Can. dollar 191.277 Cyprus pound 549.032 Euro 319.374

    (C.S.)


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