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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 99-02-18

Macedonian Press Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.


MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY NEWS IN ENGLISH
Thessaloniki, February 18, 1999

SECTIONS

  • [A] NATIONAL NEWS
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • NEWS HEADLINES

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] THREE MINISTERS DISMISSED FROM POSTS OVER OCALAN AFFAIR
  • [02] PANGALOS: I HANDLED OCALAN CASE THE BEST WAY I COULD
  • [03] GREEK FM: IF OCALAN HAD LISTENED TO US, HE WOULD BE SAFE NOW
  • [04] DUTCH FINANCE MINISTER ARRIVES IN ATHENS TODAY
  • [05] DELEGATION OF US CONGRESSMEN ARRIVES IN GREECE TODAY
  • [06] GREEK PARLIAMENT RATIFIES TREATY OF AMSTERDAM
  • [07] CHRISTODOULOS: I DON'T BELIEVE WE HANDED A MAN OVER TO THE ENEMY
  • [08] MACEDONIA-THRACE JOURNALISTS UNION ISSUES APPEAL OVER OCALAN
  • [09] PAPANDREOU: RECENT EVENTS HAVE COMPROMISED NATIONAL PRIDE
  • [10] MERRIL LYNCH: OCALAN AFFAIR WILL NOT HURT GREEK MARKET
  • [11] MR. PAPADOPOULOS' PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE OCALAN AFFAIR
  • [12] THE PRIME MINISTER WILL MAKE STATEMENTS SOON ON THE GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE
  • [13] CABINET RESHUFFLE BY THE PRIME MINISTER
  • [14] KARAMANLIS: THE PRIME MINISTER SHOULD RESIGN
  • [15] PETSALNIKOS: MY CONSCIENCE IS ABSOLUTELY CLEAR
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [16] OCALAN INCARCERATED AT THE ISLAND OF MARMARA
  • [17] VIDEOTAPE RELEASED OF OCALAN, HANDCUFFED AND WRETCHED
  • [18] EURODEPUTIES DELEGATION TRAVELS TO TURKEY
  • [19] ALBANIAN PREMIER SPEAKS TO THE MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY
  • [20] TURKEY SHOWED A SECOND VIDEO WITH OCALAN
  • [21] THE TURKISH ARMY LAUNCHED A NEW MILITARY OPERATION IN NORTHERN IRAQ
  • [22] ABOUT 1.000 KURDS JAILED IN TURKEY ARE ON A HUNGER STRIKE
  • [23] 20 KURDS ARE LIVE BOMBS AND READY FOR SUICIDE MISSIONS IN TURKEY
  • [24] OCALAN APPEALED TO THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
  • [25] KURDISH PROTESTERS STILL OCCUPY GREEK EMBASSY IN LONDON

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] THREE MINISTERS DISMISSED FROM POSTS OVER OCALAN AFFAIR

    Greece's Minister of Foreign Affairs Theodoros Pangalos, Minister of the Interior Alekos Papadopoulos and Minister of Public Order Philippos Petsalnikos have been removed from their posts by Prime Minister Kostas Simitis who asked for their resignation during today's Cabinet and PASOK Political Secretariat meeting.

    After the three ministers submitted their resignations, the Premier thanked them for the up-to-date cooperation.

    Following the shake-up, government spokesperson Dimitris Reppas said that the government will look into attributing responsibilities to all those who, beyond any sense of responsibility , brought the PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan to Greece.

    A press briefing will follow later in the day.

    [02] PANGALOS: I HANDLED OCALAN CASE THE BEST WAY I COULD

    Greece's Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who resigned earlier this morning from his post following the Prime Minister's request, stated that the Ocalan matter was a very difficult case "which I handled in the best way I could.

    "It had subjective parameters which were beyond my control and concerned the existing international reactions and Ocalan's own choices," Mr. Pangalos added.

    The Minister made the aforementioned statement immediately following his scheduled meeting with Slovakia's Foreign Minister and prior to his departure from the Foreign Ministry.

    When asked if, and to what degree, the Premier Kostas Simitis was aware of the handling of the Ocalan case, Mr. Pangalos responded "of course, it was done with his knowledge", while, commending on alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, he stated that he was not briefed since he was outside the country at the time and added that "it would be best if he didn't speak on matters which he doesn't know."

    Regarding the statement made by interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos (he also resigned) who said that he had made a different recommendation for the handling of the case, Mr. Pangalos stated that at that point there was no one and nothing to handle, and pointed out that there was no difference of opinion.

    He further referred to those who brought the PKK leader to Greece and stated that they acted criminally against the nation and are responsible for Mr. Ocalan's present plight.

    Mr. Pangalos had one piece of advice for his not-as-of-yet- named successor: "watch your back".

    [03] GREEK FM: IF OCALAN HAD LISTENED TO US, HE WOULD BE SAFE NOW

    Abdullah Ocalan would be safe now if he had listened to us, stated Greece's Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos during an interview with an Athens daily.

    Mr. Pangalos, who was removed from his post by the Prime Minister today, defended his policy and expressed his surprise over certain choices made by the PKK leader. Moreover, Mr. Pangalos insinuated that the United States secret services traced Mr. Ocalan through is mobile phone. He also referred to Kenya by stating that "that country was a stopover, it was other African countries with which we negotiated for the granting of political asylum (to Mr. Ocalan)."

    [04] DUTCH FINANCE MINISTER ARRIVES IN ATHENS TODAY

    The Netherlands' Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm is to embark on an official visit to Athens today where he will be received by his Greek counterpart Yiannos Papantoniou with whom he will discuss Agenda 2000 issues .

    The Royal Netherlands embassy in Athens, in cooperation with the Hellenic-Dutch Association of Commerce and Industry, will host a business meeting tomorrow evening at the Athens Hilton.

    [05] DELEGATION OF US CONGRESSMEN ARRIVES IN GREECE TODAY

    A 12-member delegation of U.S. Congressmen is to visit Greece today, in order to meet with Greek government officials on political and economic affairs and defense and security issues.

    The delegation, led by Nebraska Republican Douglas Bereuter, is on a six-day tour of the region and, in addition to Greece, will also visit Belgium, France, Cyprus and Turkey.

    The Athens talks are expected to focus on the security situation in the eastern Mediterranean, relations between Greece and Turkey and prospects for a resolution of the Cyprus issue.

    [06] GREEK PARLIAMENT RATIFIES TREATY OF AMSTERDAM

    The Hellenic Parliament ratified the Amsterdam Treaty with 246 votes in favor, 19 against and nine abstaining, wrapping up a five-day debate.

    Deputies from both the ruling PASOK party and the main opposition New Democracy agreed that the Treaty constitutes a step ahead, which should be followed by other moves in the Common Foreign Policy and Defense Policy sectors.

    [07] CHRISTODOULOS: I DON'T BELIEVE WE HANDED A MAN OVER TO THE ENEMY

    The Archbishop of Athens and All of Greece Christodoulos stated that he doesn't believe Greece "handed a man over to the enemy", referring to PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan who was captured in Kenya by Turkish commandos.

    Following his meeting with the Minister of National Defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos, the Archbishop also stated that if things happened just as a section of the press reports, "then this is really a strike against our credibility, tradition and human rights."

    [08] MACEDONIA-THRACE JOURNALISTS UNION ISSUES APPEAL OVER OCALAN

    The Journalists' Union of Daily Newspapers of Macedonia and Thrace has issued an announcement concerning the recent capture of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan by Turkish commandos, wherein it expressed the concern that his life could be in danger, and that he will not be afforded a fair trial.

    The announcement was forwarded to the International Journalists' Federation, prompting it to demonstrate its concern for the maintenance of fundamental humanitarian principles and for the respect of democratic and human rights, especially in the Ocalan case and, overall, the plight of the Kurdish people.

    It was also sent to international organizations and the United Nations, calling on them to declare "that the observance of these fundamental principles is the very least demand the world has of Turkey", and to journalists of Turkey and their unions, urging them to honor their profession by surrounding Ocalan's fate with publicity and maintaining a constant and unwavering focus on this case.

    "We believe that the leadership of Turkey itself should also receive this message, as it now stands before the opportunity to prove that it does not succumb to revengeful impulses but, rather, it opts to serve those humanitarian principles which befit civilized countries," the announcement also read.

    [09] PAPANDREOU: RECENT EVENTS HAVE COMPROMISED NATIONAL PRIDE

    Greece's alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou has issued a written statement wherein he challenges all those involved in the Ocalan case to undertake their responsibilities publicly, a move that has been construed as a call for the resignation of Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    Moreover, Mr. Papandreou asked that the National Council of Foreign Policy be convened and stressed that the recent turn of events have compromised the country's authority and undermined the hospitable Greek people's sense of dignity and pride.

    [10] MERRIL LYNCH: OCALAN AFFAIR WILL NOT HURT GREEK MARKET

    Greek markets are not expected to be negatively swayed by the Ocalan case that has rocked the country's political world, according to Merril Lynch, which does not forecast any substantial or long-term effect in the economy.

    Moreover, the financial organization advises that any temporary "weakness" in the national currency's parity should be seized as an opportunity by investors, as the state's economy continues its "upward climb" in light of the Economic and Monetary Union convergence.

    [11] MR. PAPADOPOULOS' PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE OCALAN AFFAIR

    The facts related with the Ocalan affair were presented by Alekos Papadopoulos in a press conference he gave after the announcement of his resignation from minister of interior. Mr. Papadopoulos stressed that he handled the issue within the framework of his authority with every sense of responsibility.

    He stated that the Greek secret services had been involved in the case only up to the point when the procedure for Ocalan's transfer to Kenya started and added that the National Information Service is an autonomous agency that administratively belongs to the ministry of interior. He said that after Sunday night he had no involvement in the case but last Monday he decided to submit his resignation not because he had any responsibility over the issue but for reasons of sensitivity.

    Referring to the events of Friday, January 29, he said that while he was on a formal trip to Marocco he was informed by the minister of public order that there is information according to which, Ocalan was in Greece. He said that the responsible agencies of the airport and the police officers there did not inform anyone on the issue and that the control tower did not inform the Greek secret service agents at the airport that an airplane was about to arrive coming from Russia. The National Information Service agents realized that there was a fourth individual that remained on board the plane for a couple of minutes. He then left the plane and took off by car. They assumed that it was Ocalan but they did not have time to react.

    Mr. Papadopoulos said that he contacted the foreign minister and the minister of public order and stated to them that according to his opinion there should be arrests of all those responsible namely, those who brought Ocalan to Greece in the first place and those who were responsible for security at the airport of Athens.

    Mr. Papadopoulos said that Ocalan himself decided to go to Minsk in Belorus and that a plane would be there to take him to Rijeka and from there to Holland. However, the authorities in Minsk did not allow his plane to land and it was forced to go to the island of Corfu and from there to Kenya. Last Friday, it was obvious that Ocalan had to be removed from the Greek ambassador's residence where he was staying in Kenya, while the procedures were being completed for him to be taken to a neighboring country which was going to grant him political asylum.

    Based on the available information, there was a problem of cooperation. On Sunday, both the Greek embassy and the residence of the ambassador had been surrounded by Kenyan security forces and by certain white individuals and it was obvious that the life of Ocalan was in danger and there was no way out.

    Mr. Papadopoulos stated that he suggested to the foreign minister, the minister of public order and the prime minister that in order to avert Ocalan's arrest the issue had to be publicized, while high level contacts were necessary to take place with the foreign minister of Kenya in order to take Ocalan to a third country. Mr. Papadopoulos stated that since then he had no involvement whatsoever and no information on Monday's developments adding that he learned about the arrest of Ocalan by Turkey the same way with everybody else.

    [12] THE PRIME MINISTER WILL MAKE STATEMENTS SOON ON THE GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE

    Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stated that the prime minister will soon make statements on who will be placed at the ministries of foreign affairs, interior and public order after the resignations of Theodoros Pangalos, Alekos Papadopoulos and Philippos Petsalnikos respectively.

    Mr. Reppas stated that the prime minister asked for the resignations of the three ministers. When called to comment on the responsibility of the prime minister in the Ocalan affair, Mr. Reppas stated that the prime minister has no responsibility whatsoever as he did not have any involvement and he did not handle the issue himself. Mr. Reppas said that the government has members with specific responsibilities and authority.

    Mr. Reppas said that the government has stood by the struggle of the Kurdish people but unfortunately a distorted picture has been created, underlining that there are responsibilities that belong to plain citizens who got involved in the creation of the problem, pointing out that there are illegal actions, misdirection of government agencies and negligence of agencies in exercising their duties.

    The Greek government spokesman pointed out that Ocalan is now held in Turkey and what is most important is to win guarantees on his life and the conditions under which he is held. He said that the international community and especially the European Union have an obligation to safeguard the implementation of the principles of law in this case as dictated by the humanitarian principles. Mr. Reppas said that the European Union can not remain a simple observer but it should be the guarantor for a fair handling of Ocalan.

    Responding to a question on the pictures shown by the Turkish television on the conditions under which Ocalan is held, he stated that they show the reality and do not correspond to a country that wants to belong to the developed world and become a member of the European Union.

    [13] CABINET RESHUFFLE BY THE PRIME MINISTER

    Prime minister Kostas Simitis will proceed with a government reshuffle after the removal of foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos, minister of interior Alekos Papadopoulos and minister of public order Philippos Petsalnikos.

    According to government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, those who disregarded any sense of responsibility and brought the Kurdish leader to Greece illegally involving the country in the Ocalan case will be accountable for their actions.

    [14] KARAMANLIS: THE PRIME MINISTER SHOULD RESIGN

    The prime minister is the one who should resign, underlined right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis as soon as he was informed of the removal of the three ministers during the meeting of the ND parliamentary group.

    Mr. Karamanlis raised the issue of early elections indirectly saying that New Democracy does not have the ability to impose them but it can be certain that it can win them whenever they take place.

    [15] PETSALNIKOS: MY CONSCIENCE IS ABSOLUTELY CLEAR

    Philippos Petsalnikos stated in a press conference he gave after the announcement of his resignation from minister of public order that his conscience is absolutely clear regarding the Ocalan affair.

    Mr. Petsalnikos referred to the events that took place until the arrest of the PKK leader and stated that he submitted his resignation after a request made by the prime minister, adding that he does not want anyone to think that he had any responsibility in the issue.

    He said that on Friday, January 29 he was informed by the deputy commander of the National Information Service Mr. Loukopoulos that there is a likelihood for Ocalan to have entered Greece and immediately he had a telephone communication with minister of interior Alekos Papadopoulos and minister of foreign affairs Theodoros Pangalos.

    He said that preparations had been made for arrests if it was deemed necessary, but Mr. Pangalos announced that a meeting was scheduled for later in the evening of Saturday, January 30 with Ocalan himself who was staying at the house of his Greek friends. Mr. Petsalnikos stated that he informed himself the chief of the National Information Service Mr. Stavrakakis on the issue and ordered him to return immediately to Greece from Romania where he was on a visit.

    Mr. Stavrakakis handled the issue and Ocalan apparently was persuaded that it was not a solution for him to stay in Greece and agreed to leave the country and go to Minsk from where a plane was going to take him to Holland but this plan was not successful and he returned to Greece in the early morning hours of Monday. Since Monday evening, when he left for Kenya, the ministry of public order had no involvement whatsoever in the affair.

    Mr. Petsalnikos stated that on Friday, February 12 he was called at the office of interior minister Alekos Papadopoulos and he was informed that there is fear that Ocalan, who was staying at the Greek embassy in Kenya, would be discovered and procedures were in progress for his transfer to another country. The next day it was decided that four National Information Service agents were going to be sent to Kenya for security reasons as the Greek embassy and the ambassador had no protection there. On Sunday, February 14 Mr. Petsalnikos was informed that the four were being closely watched and there was an increased danger for Ocalan to be discovered. Since the evening of that day, Mr.Petsalnikos said that he had no information and no contacts on the issue probably because it was being handled by the foreign ministry.

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [16] OCALAN INCARCERATED AT THE ISLAND OF MARMARA

    The PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan is being incarcerated at the island of Marmara, off the coast of Turkey, according to Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, who also added that the prisoner will soon be tried and will have Turkish counsel.

    Meanwhile, a Turkish lawyer representing Mr. Ocalan was arrested last night in Istanbul, according to the French news agency AFP.

    At the same time, Turkey's President Suleiman Demirel thanked those involved in Mr. Ocalan's capture operation and called on the county's youth who have "fallen into the traps of terrorism, to seek shelter with the Turkish state's system of justice."

    [17] VIDEOTAPE RELEASED OF OCALAN, HANDCUFFED AND WRETCHED

    A videotape was released yesterday by Turkey, showing the leader of the PKK Abdullah Ocalan handcuffed and wretched, with his eyes taped shut.

    The video, which was taken inside the plane transporting Mr. Ocalan to Turkey after his capture in Kenya, is obviously edited; it shows him wincing, responding to his masked captors who politely prompt him to speak and repeatedly ask him if there is anything he needs. The Turkish commandos informed the PKK leader that the tape is rolling.

    "You can tape me and broadcast it since you haven't tortured me," Mr. Ocalan said. "I love my country. My mother was a Turk. If there is anything I can do, I will do it. Don't ask me anything else."

    Speculation abounds that the PKK leader was drugged during the videotape.

    [18] EURODEPUTIES DELEGATION TRAVELS TO TURKEY

    A delegation of European Parliament deputies is to travel to Istanbul today, in order to present a the EU parliament's resolutions on the Abdullah Ocalan case. Greek Euro-MP Alekos Alavanos, representing the Coalition of the Left and Progress, will represent the European Parliament at the joint committee meeting with the Turkish national assembly.

    The committee calls for Mr. Ocalan's trial to be fair and public, for the accused to be given the right to choose his own lawyer and that European Parliament members be allowed to visit him.

    It also reminds Turkey of its obligations as a member of the Council of Europe not to apply the death penalty.

    [19] ALBANIAN PREMIER SPEAKS TO THE MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY

    Albanian's Prime Minister Paskal Milo told the Macedonian Press Agency that a positive outcome of the Rambouillet talks between Serbs and the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo will be the onstart of a process that would lead to a final closure of the Kosovo issue.

    Moreover, Mr. Milo told the MPA that his country will view Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as the main party responsible should the talks fail, and stressed that Albania will accept the international community's resolutions and choices.

    The Albanian premier views the presence of NATO in Kosovo as a fait accompli, since NATO in Kosovo would serve as a warranty not only for the enforcement of a potential Rambouillet agreement, but also as a means that would ensure peace and stability in the region throughout.

    [20] TURKEY SHOWED A SECOND VIDEO WITH OCALAN

    The Turkish television showed a second video with Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan who was handcuffed, visibly shaken and with two Turkish flags at the background.

    Meanwhile, according to the Turkish Union for Human Rights 350 members of the legal pro-Kurdish party HADEP have been arrested in Istanbul.

    [21] THE TURKISH ARMY LAUNCHED A NEW MILITARY OPERATION IN NORTHERN IRAQ

    Turkish prime minister Bulent Ecevit stated that the Turkish army has launched a military operation in northern Iraq against the PKK rebels, according to the French agency AFP.

    The Turkish newspaper "Hurriyet" writes that in the military operation participate 10.000 soldiers, Cobra helicopters and F-4 fighter jets. Prime minister Ecevit denied that this operation is related with the arrest of the Kurdish separatist leader and added that it will not last long.

    Iraq protested against the Turkish military operation that takes place on its territory and called on the United Nations to intervene in order for the Turkish troops to be withdrawn.

    Meanwhile, a new attack was launched against the Kurds of PKK in south-eastern Turkey.

    [22] ABOUT 1.000 KURDS JAILED IN TURKEY ARE ON A HUNGER STRIKE

    The protests against the arrest of Ocalan continue in the Turkish jails with hunger strikes and attempts by Kurds to set themselves alight. About 1.000 Kurdish inmates in Turkish prisons are currently on a hunger strike.

    Meanwhile, a Kurd attempted to commit suicide in the Nazili Prisons, while another Kurd attempted to set himself on fire in the Jeihan Prisons.

    [23] 20 KURDS ARE LIVE BOMBS AND READY FOR SUICIDE MISSIONS IN TURKEY

    Twenty members of the Kurdish PKK, the majority of them women, are in Turkey for suicide missions according to the Turkish newspaper "Milliyet".

    The Turkish newspaper cites information coming from secret services and publishes the names of 20 PKK members characterizing them as "live bombs", while it also mentions that trained for suicide mission is also Ocalan's companion Ayer Kaya.

    [24] OCALAN APPEALED TO THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS

    A group of lawyers headed by German Brigite Beler from Amsterdam made a appeal to the European Court of Human Rights concerning the arrest and the conditions under which Kurdish leader Abdulah Ocalan is being held in Turkey. The group characterizes the arrest as illegal and calls for Ocalan's release.

    In case he is not released they demand that urgent measures should be taken for his personal safety as Turkey is known for the violations of human rights on its territory.

    According to Ms. Beler, there are reasons to fear that Ocalan will be mistreated and that even his life will be in danger, stressing that for this reason the European Court for Human Rights is called to intervene urgently.

    Meanwhile, newly elected Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly president British Liberal Sir Russel Johnson expressed strong concern over the way the arrest of Ocalan was made and whether he will be treated by the Turkish authorities in accordance with the European Treaty on Human Rights. He added that for this reason contacts with the Turkish government have already started to allow the arrival of a Council of Europe delegation that will witness the conditions under which Ocalan is being held.

    [25] KURDISH PROTESTERS STILL OCCUPY GREEK EMBASSY IN LONDON

    The Greek embassy in London continues to be occupied for as third day, with a clerk being held hostage, by Kurds who are protesting -the capture of their leader Abdullah Ocalan.

    The protesters said they have began a hunger strike and were prepared to set themselves on fire if police tried to force them out.

    According to London's police Chief Superintendent Anthony Wills, storming the building is not an option the authorities are considering at the moment.

    The hostage, Haralabos Patsouris, is reportedly well, albeit anxious to go home.


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