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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 99-02-23

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 23, 1999

SECTIONS

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

  • NEWS HEADLINES

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] GOVERNMENT COUNCIL FOR DEFENSE CONVENES TODAY
  • [02] PREMIER: PARTY CONGRESS TO BE HELD AS PLANNED IN MARCH
  • [03] NATO FORCES WILL REPORTEDLY TRAVEL THROUGH GREECE
  • [04] ALTERNATE FM MEETS WITH ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER
  • [05] THE PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCED THAT A FACT-FINDING COMMISSION WILL HOLD AN INQUIRY ON THE OCALAN AFFAIR
  • [06] LEADING GOVERNMENT MINISTERS DENY INFORMATION ON THE RESIGNATION OF PRIME MINISTER SIMITIS
  • [07] THE GOVERNMENTAL COUNCIL OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE MEETING IS UNDERWAY
  • [08] STEPHANOPOULOS-KARAMANLIS MEETING
  • [09] OPERATION FOR THE TRANSFER OF NATO FORCES TO KOSOVO VIA THESSALONIKI
  • [10] THE GREEK-AMERICAN NATIONAL COUNCIL ADDRESSED A LETTER TO THE US PRESIDENT ON OCALAN
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [11] THOUSANDS OF EUROPEAN FARMERS PROTEST MEASURES
  • [12] GREEK FM ON WHY GREECE DIDN'T INFORM EU ON OCALAN'S ASYLUM REQUEST
  • [13] FM PAPANDREOU SATISFIED WITH EU'S STATEMENT ON TURKEY
  • [14] WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON ON OCALAN CASE
  • [15] KOSOVO TALKS DEADLINE LOOMING AHEAD
  • [16] GREEK INVESTMENTS IN BULGARIA ON THE RISE
  • [17] GERMANY READY TO DISPATCH 5,500 PEACEKEEPERS IN KOSOVO
  • [18] OCALAN FACES HIGH TREASON CHARGES, TO BE TRIED IN GLASS CAGE
  • [19] GREEK FM OFFICIAL IN NAIROBI TO FACILITATE PKK MEMBERS
  • [20] ARMED CONFLICT ERUPTS BETWEEN SERBS AND UCK REBELS
  • [21] EUROPEAN COURT REVIEWS REQUEST OF TEMPORARY MEASURES AGAINST TURKEY
  • [22] THE DEADLINE FOR A PEACE AGREEMENT IN RAMBOUILLET HAS ENDED
  • [23] A MILITARY OPERATION IN KOSOVO WILL BE DIFFICULT FOR NATO
  • [24] THE HOSPITALS IN SERBIA ARE IN A STATE OF ALERT
  • [25] THE GREEK AMBASSADOR MET WITH THE YUGOSLAV DEPUTY VICE- PRESIDENT
  • [26] RUSSIA WILL FREEZE ITS COOPERATION WITH NATO IN CASE OF AIR STRIKES AGAINST SERBIA
  • [27] THE INTERROGATION OF OCALAN WAS COMPLETED TODAY
  • [28] EARTHQUAKE OF 4.3 ON THE RICHTER SCALE SHOOK LIMASSOL IN CYPRUS

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] GOVERNMENT COUNCIL FOR DEFENSE CONVENES TODAY

    The Government Council for Defense (KYSEA) is to hold an extraordinary meeting this afternoon, chaired by the Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, in order to discuss the Ocalan case and its aftermath.

    Meanwhile, Turkey has embarked on an organized campaign to smear Greece and its foreign policy tactics. Turkish President Suleiman Demirel claimed that Greece should rank among those countries which support terrorism, while Turkish daily "Hurriyet" has reported that Mr. Ocalan has supposedly confessed to his interrogators that Greece supports the PKK rebels by providing them with arms and military training.

    Greek government spokesperson Dimitris Reppas said that this propaganda was expected and added that it falls on dead water.

    [02] PREMIER: PARTY CONGRESS TO BE HELD AS PLANNED IN MARCH

    While the Ocalan Affair continues to reverberate throughout Greece's ruling PASOK party, Prime Minister and party president Kostas Simitis has rejected recommendations that the PASOK congress, scheduled for March, be postponed.

    Mr. Simitis has made it clear that the congress will take place as planned and has stated that the latest developments surrounding the Ocalan case provide an opportunity to secure the party's unity.

    Meanwhile, National Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who had asked that the congress be held after the European Parliament elections, to be held in June, has not yet stated what his stance will be.

    [03] NATO FORCES WILL REPORTEDLY TRAVEL THROUGH GREECE

    The ports of Thessaloniki, northern Greece, and Litochoro, central Greece, have reportedly been selected by NATO for the transport of its troops to Kosovo, with part of the dispatch taking place as early as this afternoon, when the deadline for agreement at the Rambouillet-held talks expires.

    According to local press reports, three NATO ships carrying 4,000 Kosovo-bound troops are expected to moor at the port of Litochoro today.

    While NATO ships are already anchored at the port of Thessaloniki, whose troops have moved on to Skopje, the force's main body, estimated at 50,000 troops, has yet to arrive.

    [04] ALTERNATE FM MEETS WITH ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER

    Albania's Foreign Minister Paskal Milo was received by Greece's alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis on Sunday with whom he discussed the latest developments in the Kosovo crisis in light of the Rambouillet negotiations, as well Greek- Albanian bilateral relations.

    Both men confirmed the excellent level of those relations, which they said was proved by the close contact and cooperation between the two governments.

    Mr. Milo said Tirana was examining the renewal of the Greek military force's (ELDAL-2) term in Albania, which expires next month.

    Mr. Milo reiterated Albania's positions on the situation in Kosovo, stressing that the Kosovo Albanians were now more prepared to accept the agreement than the Serb side, since they desired the presence of an international peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

    Mr. Kranidiotis stressed the critical nature of the situation, warning that time was running out.

    [05] THE PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCED THAT A FACT-FINDING COMMISSION WILL HOLD AN INQUIRY ON THE OCALAN AFFAIR

    Prime minister Kostas Simitis announced after the end of the meetings of the government committee and the governmental council on foreign affairs and defense that a fact-finding commission will hold an inquiry on the Ocalan affair, while he added that the government will continue its work.

    Referring to the joint decision of the European Union foreign ministers council on the occasion of the Ocalan issue, he characterized it as positive, adding that it calls on Turkey to offer a fair and open trial to Ocalan based on international law, while it also calls on Turkey to solve the Kurdish problem through political means and with full respect to human rights.

    On the provocative statements made by Ankara which accuses Greece of harbouring Kurdish terrorists, Mr. Simitis said that the Turkish officials are engaging in mud-slinging attacks after Turkey's failure to make the Kurdish issue part of the Greek- Turkish relations. However, said Mr. Simitis, Turkey will always be accountable before the international community for the human rights violations committed in its territory.

    On the fact-finding commission that will hold an inquiry on the Ocalan affair, Mr. Simitis stated that he came to this decision in order to have complete transparency and information on how the issue develops.

    He said that the course of Greece can not be stopped and that his government will implement its policy that was approved by the Greek people in the 1996 elections. He said that Greece will become an equal partner in the European procedures and will participate in the economic and monetary union in accordance with the timetable and the procedures set.

    Mr. Simitis said that he will be in Bonn on Thursday for the EU summit meeting and on Sunday he will be in Milan to attend the European Socialist Party congress. He said that both in Bonn and in Milan he will have bilateral talks with the leaders of the European Union to present to them the problems that arise from Turkey's stance and the need for the EU to follow the policy line already set with yesterday's EU foreign ministers joint decision.

    [06] LEADING GOVERNMENT MINISTERS DENY INFORMATION ON THE RESIGNATION OF PRIME MINISTER SIMITIS

    Minister of press Dimitris Reppas, minister of development Evangelos Venizelos and national economy and finance minister Yiannos Papantoniou categorically denied the information reported by international news agencies on the allegedly imminent resignation of prime minister Kostas Simitis as a result of the Ocalan affair.

    The minister of press stressed that the course of the government continues based on its political plan and added that at this crucial moment political stability must be safeguarded and what was achieved with a huge effort and sacrifices in the past years should not be put at risk. Mr. Reppas stated that an unfortunate event should not be turned into a national disaster.

    From his part, minister of national economy and finance Yiannos Papantoniou condemned the "irresponsible circles" that have put into motion a series of unreal rumours. He underlined that the stability of the government and the prime minister is given and added that the next national elections will be held in the year 2000 as scheduled.

    Minister of development Evangelos Venizelos made an appeal for unity having as a goal a new beginning.

    [07] THE GOVERNMENTAL COUNCIL OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE MEETING IS UNDERWAY

    The governmental council of foreign affairs and defence meeting is underway under the chairmanship of prime minister Kostas Simitis.

    Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan appeared before a judge in the Imrali island and was accused of high treason according to Reuters news agency. Earlier, the newspaper "Hurriyet" published another part of the alleged testimony given by Ocalan according to which, Italy had armed the Kurdish rebels with land mines and South Africa with missiles.

    The EU interior ministers will meet today to discuss the issue of the arrest of the Kurdish leader.

    [08] STEPHANOPOULOS-KARAMANLIS MEETING

    The country's prestige can not be restored by the present government and prime minister Kostas Simitis can not remain in power for much longer, stated right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis immediately after his meeting with president Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    Mr. Karamanlis stated that the prime minister has huge responsibility in the Ocalan case and instead of assuming it he is looking for scapegoats. He added that during his meeting with the president he expressed his concern over further developments in the Ocalan affair and he presented his party's position that the worst can be avoided and future developments can be dealt with only through national union of hearts.

    [09] OPERATION FOR THE TRANSFER OF NATO FORCES TO KOSOVO VIA THESSALONIKI

    A huge operation is underway for the transfer of NATO forces and armaments to FYROM and then to Kosovo via Thessaloniki in view of the likelihood of a military intervention by the allied forces.

    A French warship is expected to sail into the port of Thessaloniki tomorrow morning carrying French soldiers who will have Kosovo as their destination. According to a scenario, over 20.000 soldiers will pass through the ports of Thessaloniki, Katerini and Volos in case of an intervention in Kosovo.

    [10] THE GREEK-AMERICAN NATIONAL COUNCIL ADDRESSED A LETTER TO THE US PRESIDENT ON OCALAN

    The request letter sent by the Greek-American National Council to US president Bill Clinton is an appeal for intervention aimed at the fair trial of Abdullah Ocalan and an expression of support to the Kurdish people. The letter is also addressed to the US Congress, the European Union and other international community institutions that could play a mediating role in the Kurdish problem.

    In the letter the Greek-American institution urges the US president, the EU and every politically sensitive individual to show interest in the protection of the human rights of the Kurdish people and to exert pressure in order to secure a fair trial for Ocalan based on the international provisions for the protection of human rights.

    The Greek-American National Council also appeals to the United States and the European Union to help toward the fair solution of the Kurdish problem.

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [11] THOUSANDS OF EUROPEAN FARMERS PROTEST MEASURES

    Thousands of farmers throughout the European Union's member- states, Greece included, participated in the sector's biggest demonstration in the past 25 years yesterday when they gathered in Brussels to protest the EU's plans to reform agricultural subsidy programs.

    The protesters, defying extremely adverse weather conditions, clashed with Belgian police who doused them with water cannons when they tried to enter the EU's headquarters. There were no victims.

    The rally coincided with the start of an EU agriculture ministers meeting on how to cut guaranteed farm prices by as much as 30 percent.

    According to organizers, about 40,000 farmers took part in the three-mile march across Brussels, with the biggest delegations coming from Germany and France, although police estimated the crowd at just below 30,000.

    [12] GREEK FM ON WHY GREECE DIDN'T INFORM EU ON OCALAN'S ASYLUM REQUEST

    Greece's Foreign Minister George Papandreou, addressing the European Union's Foreign Ministers Council yesterday referred to the Ocalan case and Greece's role in the whole matter, by stating that "Greece, like many other European Union countries, could not accept extending political asylum to Abdullah Ocalan but attempted for primarily humanitarian reasons, to assist him in finding refuge."

    The Foreign Minister further added that "this attempt failed, but Prime Minister Kostas Simitis has ordered that any criminal responsibilities in this affair be investigated." Greece did not inform its EU partners about the fact that Mr. Ocalan had requested refuge from Greece since the European Union proved not to be in a position to take a joint stand on the issue, Mr. Papandreou added.

    Mr. Papandreou also told his counterparts that the Kurdish issue is not a dispute between Greece and Turkey, but an issue that involves the fundamental principles of international law, especially the protection of human rights and the rights of minorities.

    [13] FM PAPANDREOU SATISFIED WITH EU'S STATEMENT ON TURKEY

    Greece's Foreign Minister George Papandreou has stated that he is fully satisfied with the content of the statement issued by the EU allies concerning the Kurdish issue and PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan's imminent trial.

    The statement calls on Turkey to take all the necessary measures so as to ensure Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan's trial is conducted on the basis of the rule of law, with Ocalan receiving access to legal counsel of his choice and with international observers admitted to the trial.

    [14] WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON ON OCALAN CASE

    A White House spokesperson stated that the Ocalan affair grants Turkey with the opportunity to conduct an open and transparent trial.

    James Lockhart stated "we believe that the trial offers a chance to Turkey to show to the European community and the rest of the world that it can provide the legal process in an open and transparent trial. We think that this is an opportunity and our hope is that they (the Turks) will do it."

    Dismissing reports on U.S. involvement in the capture of Mr. Ocalan, Mr. Lockhart said he was unaware of attacks by the Turkish press against Greece.

    [15] KOSOVO TALKS DEADLINE LOOMING AHEAD

    With an imminent deadline before them, Serbs and ethnic Albanians from Kosovo are expected to reach a deal designed to end the conflict, during the tail end of talks presently held in Rambouillet, France.

    As of last night, NATO general Wesley Clark is also taking part in the negotiations, attempting to convince the Albanian side to accept the offered agreement, one that would shift the burden on the Serb side which is being threatened with air strikes by the Alliance.

    [16] GREEK INVESTMENTS IN BULGARIA ON THE RISE

    The chairman of the Trade and Industry Chamber of Serres, a city in northern Greece, has told Bulgarian press that Greek companies aspire to constitute Bulgaria's largest investor, during a meeting held recently at Sofia's Chamber of Commerce.

    Twenty-one Greek ventures were represented at the talks, spanning the sectors of food, metal, insurance, etc. And the Greek businessmen expressed their interest to participate in Bulgaria's privatization process.

    Presently, Greece ranks fourth among Bulgaria's investors. Northern Greece's chambers are interested in opening branch offices in Bulgaria in order to assist Greek investors active in that country.

    [17] GERMANY READY TO DISPATCH 5,500 PEACEKEEPERS IN KOSOVO

    German Defense Minister Rudolph Scharping has stated that his country is ready to send 5,500 troops to the international force that will monitor the Kosovo accord, once it is signed in Rambouillet, France.

    Mr. Scharping also stated that if the talks fail, then German military servicemen will take part in NATO's operation in the region.

    [18] OCALAN FACES HIGH TREASON CHARGES, TO BE TRIED IN GLASS CAGE

    The Turkish government has brought charges of high treason against PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is to be kept in a glass cage during the course of his trial, according to Turkish television reports.

    Meanwhile, his Germany attorney has appealed to the European Union that it assign observers during the "mock-trial", as she dubbed the process.

    According to Ankara daily "Hurriyet", the interrogation process is to be completed in four-to-five days and his trial will begin in April.

    Turkish Premier Bulent Ecevit stated that Mr. Ocalan is having health problems, while press reports have said that he is suffering from heart ailments.

    [19] GREEK FM OFFICIAL IN NAIROBI TO FACILITATE PKK MEMBERS

    A high-ranking, non-political official from Greece's Foreign Ministry is to travel to Nairobi today in order to facilitate in the negotiations for the safe return of the officer of Greece's National Information Agency (EYP) Savas Kalederidis and the three PKK members who accompanied Abdullah Ocalan during his travel to Kenya.

    Three female aides of Mr. Ocalan remained in the Greek embassy in Nairobi ever since his apprehension a week ago.

    According to undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Grigoris Niotis, Greek ambassador George Kostoulas is remaining in the Kenyan capital in order to assist the three women and Mr. Kalederidis.

    [20] ARMED CONFLICT ERUPTS BETWEEN SERBS AND UCK REBELS

    The situation in Kosovo is taking a turn for the worse, with uncertainty over the results of the Rambouillet-held talks between Serbs and Kosovo's Albanians.

    According to Russian news agency Itar-Tass, members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) attacked the Serb village of Bukos last night and killed one Serb, while wounding two others.

    The Serb-controlled Media Center reported that the police rushed to the village and forced the UCK fighters out, while the incident was reported to the observers of the Organization for Security an Cooperation in Europe.

    [21] EUROPEAN COURT REVIEWS REQUEST OF TEMPORARY MEASURES AGAINST TURKEY

    The European Commission's committee on torture prevention has published a report outlining nine specific steps that should be taken in order to combat the "indisputable", as it characterized it, reality of torture practices in Turkey, shortly before attorneys representing PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is presently imprisoned at an island in Turkey where he faces charges of high treason, filed a complain to the European Court of Human Rights that Ankara has violated his human rights, his right to liberty and security, his right to a fair trial and his right to protection from torture.

    The report outlines the following emergency steps that would ensure a fair trial: 1) to provide the defendant with free access to counsel of his choice 2) to have a lawyer present during all statements made by the accused 3) to allow the defendant to notify family members or next of kin 4) to proceed to regular and unscheduled reviews of interrogation tactics and conditions of incarceration 5) to grant medical tests, by independent physicians, that will aim at preventing acts of torture 6) to denounce places of interrogation that are "terrorist" and dispersed from one end of the country to another, 7) to forbid long-term imprisonment in complete isolation, 8) to be aware that Ankara has already drafted prison plans designed for prisoners who are deemed "dangerous" for the state, with "special holding conditions" 9) to tape and videotape all interrogations conducted by the anti-terrorist team.

    Such measures are typically requested when a party faces great harm such as execution or deportation to a hostile country.

    [22] THE DEADLINE FOR A PEACE AGREEMENT IN RAMBOUILLET HAS ENDED

    The deadline of the international community that was given to the Serbs and the ethnic Albanians in order to reach a peace agreement on Kosovo in the Rambouillet talks has ended without any progress at 4 pm Greek time.

    Diplomatic sources say that a new extension is possible in order for the two sides to continue the talks. According to the Reuters news agency, citing a diplomat participating in the Rambouillet talks, the Serbs have accepted in principle the political part of the peace proposal made by the international community, but they reject the presence of NATO forces for its implementation.

    Federal Republic of Yugoslavia vice-president Vuk Draskovic stated earlier today that at the last moment the international mediators adopted and included in the draft agreement the ethnic Albanian demand for a referendum in Kosovo after a three-year interim period. Mr. Draskovic characterized this move as unacceptable.

    [23] A MILITARY OPERATION IN KOSOVO WILL BE DIFFICULT FOR NATO

    Former General Army Staff chief of the united Yugoslavia Stevan Markovic stated that NATO will face greater difficult in case of an air strike against Serbia than the difficulty faced by the United States in the recent bombing of Iraq.

    In an interview with the newspaper "Dnevni Telegraf", the army chief of former Yugoslavia stressed that the army of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has a strong air defense system and that former Yugoslavia has developed its defense strategy to a great degree.

    One of the advantages of Yugoslavia, according to Markovic, is the fact that its Air Force has MIG-29 aircraft which are less in number than the NATO war planes but they can inflict human losses among the allied forces. According to Markovic, in case NATO land forces invade the Serb territory, they will be faced with T-84 armoured tanks and in this case the Yugoslav forces will have an advantage as they know well the Kosovo terrain.

    [24] THE HOSPITALS IN SERBIA ARE IN A STATE OF ALERT

    The hospitals in Serbia are ready to handle the victims of a possible NATO air strike. Minister of health Leposav Milisevic ordered the hospitals in Serbia to be ready for the likelihood of NATO air strikes taking the necessary measures to deal with such a situation.

    According to the Belgrade newspaper "Dnevni Telegraf", the so- called "army food coupons" are being printed to be distributed to civilians in case of a war.

    [25] THE GREEK AMBASSADOR MET WITH THE YUGOSLAV DEPUTY VICE- PRESIDENT

    Greek ambassador to Belgrade Panagiotis Vlassopoulos conveyed to Federal Republic of Yugoslavia deputy vice-president Vuk Draskovic Greece's expectations that the Serb delegation in the Rambouillet peace talks will help in the effort to reach a peace agreement on Kosovo.

    The FRY deputy vice-president stressed that the basic issue for Serbia and Yugoslavia is to reach a fair political agreement on Kosovo, while he expressed the hope that a good political agreement together with the lifting of the sanctions against Yugoslavia will open the door for a better implementation of the agreement.

    [26] RUSSIA WILL FREEZE ITS COOPERATION WITH NATO IN CASE OF AIR STRIKES AGAINST SERBIA

    Russia will break every cooperation with NATO if the north Atlantic alliance launches air strikes against Serbia, stated a Russian ministry of defense official according to the French news agency AFP.

    General Leonid Ivasov, in charge of the international cooperation department in the Russian ministry of defense, stated that Russia does not want any cooperation with an organization that violates the international regulations in the relations between countries.

    Mr. Ivasov stated that Russia will participate in an international peace-keeping force in Kosovo only if a political decision is reached and only under the auspices of the UN security council and the OSCE.

    [27] THE INTERROGATION OF OCALAN WAS COMPLETED TODAY

    The interrogation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan by the three prosecutors that were appointed by the State Security Court in Ankara has been completed and an order for his arrest has been issued, while the charges against him have not been made yet. Already, Ocalan has appeared before judge Mehmet Marasli.

    Meanwhile, four of the 14 lawyers, who requested to undertake the defense of Ocalan before the court that will try him, are in the city of Mudania and one of them has secured a permit by the State Security prosecutor in Ankara allowing him to go to Imrali prison-island in the Sea of Marmara in order to get the authorization of the Kurdish leader himself to represent him in court.

    [28] EARTHQUAKE OF 4.3 ON THE RICHTER SCALE SHOOK LIMASSOL IN CYPRUS

    An earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale shook the city of Limassol in Cyprus last night.

    According to the Geological Review department, the earthquake's epicenter was located in the region of Episkopi near Limassol. The tremor was felt in the city of Limassol and in Larnaca and according to the local authorities, no damages were reported.


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