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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English (AM), 99-03-03

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>

Today's ERA News Online

Wednesday, March 3rd, 1999


  • [01] Greek president comments on Ocalan affair
  • [02] Foreign minister briefs party leaders
  • [03] Premier and former foreign minister dismiss Swedish report
  • [04] European Socialists issue declaration
  • [05] Greece and Uzbekistan sign agreements
  • [06] Central bank governor says 2% inflation feasible
  • [07] National Council for Toursim established in Greece

  • [01] Greek president comments on Ocalan affair

    Greece refuses to allow the Kurdish issue and the Ocalan affair to be turned into a focal point of Greek-Turkish differences; the president of the Greek republic, Kostis Stefanopoulos, conveyed this message to Ankara from Tashkent where he is on an official visit. Responding to Turkish allegations, which continue to accuse Greece of supplying the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, with arms, Mr Stefanopoulos rejected all such claims as slanderous. Meanwhile the government spokesman, Dimitris Reppas, belied rumours yesterday of a so-called "hot incident" in the Aegean, which resulted in a drop in the general share price index on the Athens Stock Exchange. Mr Reppas attributed the rumours to the economic and political manipulations of speculators. Referring to the crisis in Greek-Turkish relations and to fears amongst diplomatic circles of a possible military confrontation between the two sides, the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, expressed the hope that the tension would be overcome.

    [02] Foreign minister briefs party leaders

    After a series of briefing meetings yesterday with the chairman of the Greek parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee, Karolos Papoulias, the leader of the Democratic Social Movement, Dimitris Tsovolas, and the Coalition president, Nikos Konstantopoulos, the foreign minister, Giorgos Papandreou, said there was no evidence to indicate a possible "hot incident" with Turkey. The talks focused on the latest developments in the Ocalan affair and also on the need for inter-party cooperation in formulating foreign policy. Mr Papandreou said the leaders of the Democratic Social Movement and the Coalition were in favour of inter-party cooperation. In the next few days he will have contacts with the president of the New Democracy party, Kostas Karamanlis, the Political Spring party leader, Antonis Samaras, the general secretary of the Greek Communist party, Aleka Papariga, while today he is to meet the New Democracy party's honorary president, Konstantinos Mitsotakis. The former foreign minister, Karolos Papoulias, has expressed concern over the climate of tension being cultivated by Turkey and urged Greece not to deviate in defending the country's national interests. The leader of the Democratic Social Movement called for a meeting of the country's political leaders to be convened under the chairmanship of the president of the republic and again criticised the government's handling of the Ocalan affair. The Coalition president said the Ocalan affair was the greatest political tragedy for Greece since the invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and called for a meeting of political leaders, the establishment of a national foreign policy council and inter-party supervision of the operation of the Greek Intelligence Service.

    [03] Premier and former foreign minister dismiss Swedish report

    The Greek prime minister, Kostas Simitis, and the former foreign minister, Theodoros Pangalos, both curtly dismissed a report of Mr Pangalos' alleged statements issued by the Swedish News Agency. Mr Simitis spoke of cliques undermining Greece's national interests, while Mr Pangalos referred to an operation involving false rumours aimed at his political and moral demise which, in the longer term, targeted the country itself. Meanwhile the Swedish journalist concerned has himself denied that Mr Pangalos uttered the controversial statement "We gave Ocalan to Ankara", as previously reported. The government spokesman, Dimitris Reppas, fully backed Mr Pangalos during the political leaders' briefing, and expressed regret that the contents of the Swedish News Agency cable were accepted by some without any cross-checking of the facts. In Washington, the State Department spokesman, James Foley, last night expressed the United States' confidence in the Greek government and in the prime minister, Kostas Simitis, personally. Ankara, meanwhile, has finally allowed three members of the Council of Europe's Committee Against Torture to visit the Kurdish leader in his island-prison of Imrali, while late yesterday the European Court of Human Rights announced that Mr Ocalan's lawyers could visit him in prison. The announcement said Ankara had given assurances that all necessary security measures had been taken. On the other hand, the Turkish justice ministry ordered that charges be pronounced against Turkish mass media whose articles or broadcasts would be in favour of the Kurdish leader.

    [04] European Socialists issue declaration

    The European Socialist Party conference in Milan ended yesterday with the issuing of a joint two-fold declaration calling for a fair trial for Abdullah Ocalan and increased efforts to combat unemployment. In a press conference at the close of the meeting, Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis said there were two opposed choices in Europe today; one was the conservative option and the other was that of the socialists who were promising a government intent on social justice, fighting unemployment and the speedier unification of Europe. The conference of the European Socialist Party also passed resolutions for accountability in the workings of the European Commission, the increase of efforts for employment, the equality of women and the struggle against xenophobia and racism. Greek defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday was re-elected vice- president of the European Socialist party. He said the message of the socialists was a new path for Europe, adding what should change was what Europe suffered in the past.

    [05] Greece and Uzbekistan sign agreements

    Three new agreements between Greece and Uzbekistan were signed in Tashkent yesterday after talks between the visiting Greek president, Kostis Stefanopoulos, and the president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov. The agreements are further developing relations between the two countries. They are a consular agreement, an agreement on road haulage and an agreement for cooperation between the central banks of Greece and Uzbekistan. The two presidents discussed the whole spectrum of international issues, including Greek-Turkish relations, and also expressed the wish for boosting relations between Greece and Uzbekistan in all sectors, especially the economic, cultural and trade sectors.

    [06] Central bank governor says 2% inflation feasible

    The governor of the Bank of Greece, Loukas Papadimos, said yesterday that a 2% inflation rate in Greece was perfectly feasible and for this reason it would be not only ill-advised but absurd to relax the convergence criteria for the country's admission to European economic and monetary union. He added that rumours about a change in the inflation criteria should not create expectations of a relaxed policy, adding the goal of an inflation rate under 2% this year should be attained at all cost, in order to secure a smooth transition to the euro.

    [07] National Council for Toursim established in Greece

    As of this year, a National Council for Tourism is being set up, according to an announcement yesterday by development minister Evangelos Venizelos. Ten secretaries from ministries will represent the state on the council, the remainder of whose composition will be balanced by representatives of the tourist industry. At the national council of tourism, problems in the sector of tourism will be deliberated and solutions promptly formulated, according to the development minister.
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