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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 99-02-25

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 25, 1999

SECTIONS

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

  • NEWS HEADLINES

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] PRIME MINISTER SIMITIS IN BONN FOR EU SUMMIT
  • [02] UN REFUTES ALLEGATIONS OF PKK REBEL TRAINING IN GREECE
  • [03] FRENCH VESSEL "FOUDRE" IN THESSALONIKI, EN ROUTE TO FYROM
  • [04] DEFENSE MINISTER: THERE IS RISK OF A "WARM" EPISODE IN AEGEAN
  • [05] GREEK ALTERNATE FM SALUTES INT'L REACTION ON OCALAN'S TRIAL
  • [06] THESSALONIKI PREFECT SPEAKS TO MPA ON OCALAN CASE
  • [07] SOCIAL DIALOGUE ON TAX REFORMS BEGINS TODAY
  • [08] TUSIAD CHAIRMAN: GREEK-TURKISH TRADE REDUCTION IS TEMPORARY
  • [09] REPPAS: THE PRIME MINISTER HAS INFORMED THE EUROPEAN LEADERS ON THE OCALAN AFFAIR
  • [10] GOVERNMENTAL COMMITTEE MEETING
  • [11] KARAMANLIS LAUNCHED AN ATTACK AGAINST THE PRIME MINISTER
  • [12] NATO AIRCRAFT AND A BRITISH WARSHIP HAVE ARRIVED IN THESSALONIKI
  • [13] MEETING OF THE STATE RADIOS OF GREECE AND FYROM REPRESENTATIVES
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [14] OCALAN TESTIFIES: I HAD NO CONTACT WITH GREEK OFFICIALS
  • [15] TALKS CONTINUE TO BRING OCALAN'S FOUR ASSOCIATES TO GREECE
  • [16] PRESIDENT OF CYPRUS REBUFFS TURKISH CLAIMS OF PKK CAMPS
  • [17] DOCUMENTARY SHOWS GREEK EFFORTS TO SAVE JEWS IN WWII
  • [18] US SECRETARY OF STATE ALBRIGHT STERNLY WARNS MILOSEVIC
  • [19] BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY SUPPORTS UN RESOLUTIONS ON CYPRUS
  • [20] JOURNAL OF COMMERCE: GREEK MERCHANT FLEET IS WORLD'S LARGEST
  • [21] TURKEY'S NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS IN ANKARA
  • [22] TURKEY RE-ESTABLISHES THE VISA REQUIREMENT FOR THE GREEKS

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] PRIME MINISTER SIMITIS IN BONN FOR EU SUMMIT

    The leaders of the European Union's member-states are to hold an informal Summit in Bonn today and tomorrow, where they will discuss the Kurdish issue and the Ocalan affair.

    Greece will be represented by Premier Kostas Simitis, Foreign Minister George Papandreou and other officials.

    Mr. Simitis said he would have bilateral talks with his European Union counterparts at a series of meetings to outline to them the need to enforce the EU's Ocalan-related statement issued on February 22, wherein it calls on Turkey to ensure that the Kurdish leader gets a fair and open trial.

    Meanwhile, following eight days of isolated confinement and having been charged with high treason, Mr. Ocalan was allowed to confer with his attorneys yesterday.

    [02] UN REFUTES ALLEGATIONS OF PKK REBEL TRAINING IN GREECE

    The assistant director of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Mario Koffman has refuted the Turkish allegations that Kurdish rebels are being trained on Greek ground. Speaking to an Austrian daily, the UN officials stated that there is an encampment in the region of Lavrio which is nothing more than a civilian refugees reception area which is under the permanent supervision of the Red Cross and the international agency of social aid.

    [03] FRENCH VESSEL "FOUDRE" IN THESSALONIKI, EN ROUTE TO FYROM

    The French vessel "Foudre" arrived at the port of Thessaloniki yesterday afternoon, carrying 180 vehicles and 350 troops who are destined for FYROM, where they will be stationed until possible NATO orders to move on to Kosovo.

    Also, six British C-130 transport planes landed at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport carrying troops and vehicles, as well as two French Airbuses carrying 10 vehicles and 140 personnel and an American Tri-Star carrying 225 British troops.

    [04] DEFENSE MINISTER: THERE IS RISK OF A "WARM" EPISODE IN AEGEAN

    Greece's Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos has stated that there is a risk of a "warm" episode taking place in the Aegean, citing Turkey's intention to up the ante in the region and Cyprus.

    Speaking to reporters, Mr. Tsochatzopoulos stated that the present climate in Greek-Turkish relations is "gloomy".

    He also conceded that the outcome of the Ocalan affair served a heavy blow to Greece's ruling PASOK party and the Greek people, while he attributed responsibilities to the government for its handling of the matter and called for a thorough investigation.

    Concurrently, the Defense Minister stated that the Ocalan case should not be turned into a matter of "national stress" and saluted the subsequent measures drawn by the government, albeit he stressed that the Premier Kostas Simitis should have kept the political leaders informed. He reiterated his chagrin at not having been briefed on the matter.

    [05] GREEK ALTERNATE FM SALUTES INT'L REACTION ON OCALAN'S TRIAL

    Following the announcement by the European Court of Human Rights concerning the imminent trial of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, Greece's alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis has stated that the globalization of the issue is a particularly important development.

    "The top judicial organ of the Council of Europe, the new European Court of Human Rights, taking into account the seriousness of claims by Ocalan's lawyers, has decided to ask Turkish authorities clarifications related to the arrest and detention of the Kurdish leader, as well as the speedy provision of information with regard to the possibility of communication with his lawyers," Mr. Kranidiotis stated.

    He further added that other statements, issued by the EU Council of Ministers, the external affairs committee of the European Parliament, and the Special United Nations Rappporteur Against Torture, have reminded Turkey of the evident principles for a true democracy which it has to uphold in the specific case, such as a fair and open trial by an independent court, the right to chose one's lawyer, attendance of international observers, non- application of the death penalty, safeguards regarding the physical and psychological integrity of the Kurdish leader and respect for his human dignity.

    "Greece will promote at an international level the need for Turkey to respect. Turkey's non-compliance with the requirements of the European legal order and worldwide recognized rules which establish the fundamental right of man and constitute non- negotiable conquests of our modern legal culture, isolates it from the international community," he said.

    [06] THESSALONIKI PREFECT SPEAKS TO MPA ON OCALAN CASE

    Thessaloniki's Prefect Kostas Papadopoulos has dismissed as "unworthy of comment" the allegations made by the Turkish government that Greece harbors Kurdish rebels and provides them with training.

    Responding to a question posed by the Macedonian Press Agency, concerning Turkish press reports that there are Kurdish military camps in Lavrio, Halkida and Lamia, Mr. Papadopoulos stated that "instead of misleading public opinion, Turkey should take a serious look into the issue of human rights isolations and, albeit late, ask for an apology for the genocides it has committed in the past against the Greeks from Pontus, the Armenians, the Cypriots and now the Kurds."

    The Prefect of Thessaloniki further added that "Turkey's military regime should look at the true interests of the Turkish people who deserve to live with dignity in a democratic state."

    [07] SOCIAL DIALOGUE ON TAX REFORMS BEGINS TODAY

    The government is set to embark on the "social dialogue" concerning the planned reforms of the state's taxation system, although the country's largest union, GSEE will not be participating.

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou has said the government will bring forth 20 proposals for changes aimed at easing the tax burden on low wage earners.

    Unions have propose various changes including an inflation- indexed taxation scale, an increase in the threshold for non-taxable income to 2.3 million drachmas for wage and pension earners and additional tax breaks for families with dependents.

    [08] TUSIAD CHAIRMAN: GREEK-TURKISH TRADE REDUCTION IS TEMPORARY

    The chairman of the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) Erkut Yucaoglu characterizes the reduction of trade between Greece and Turkey as temporary and has stated that the decision drawn by the Turkish-Hellenic Business Council to sever its trade ties with Greece reflects the sentiment of the Turkish people, not the Turkish state.

    In an exclusive interview with the Macedonian Press Agency, Mr. Yucaoglu stressed that businessmen from both countries have been trying for years to establish a positive climate in the Greek- Turkish relations.

    "Unfortunately, these efforts were not recognized," he stated, attributing the

    lack of success to two reasons: first, the fact that Greek businessmen were not able to convey to the Greek government the message given by their Turkish counterparts and, second, that the apprehension of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan revealed the support and protection granted to PKK by Greece.

    The TUSIAD chairman further assessed that Greek businessmen did not want publicity granted to their meetings with their Turkish counterparts, which is why, he said, the talks led to nowhere.

    [09] REPPAS: THE PRIME MINISTER HAS INFORMED THE EUROPEAN LEADERS ON THE OCALAN AFFAIR

    Prime minister Kostas Simitis has sent a letter to the European leaders with the Greek positions on the Ocalan case. Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stated that the letter will be given to publicity in the next few hours and that in it are presented the facts and the Greek involvement, while it is pointed out what actions the EU has to take.

    Commenting on Turkey's stance, Mr. Reppas stressed that it persistently refuses to comply with international law and that the EU should exert pressures toward this direction. Mr. Reppas stated that the Greek government hopes that there will be a positive response.

    On the accusations against the government that it handed over Ocalan to Turkey, he said that such allegations are sordid and added that Greece had a "national accident" which should not be turned into a national disaster.

    On the procedures for the return of Ocalan's three women associates and the Greek National Information Service agent major Kaelnteridis who are still in Kenya, Mr. Reppas said that they are in progress and expressed the hope that they will be completed successfully.

    Responding to the question on the meeting of foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou with US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns, Mr. Reppas stated that it was ceremonial. The US ambassador delivered to Mr. Papandreou a congratulatory letter by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on the occasion of his new duties as a foreign minister.

    Regarding the likelihood of a US assistance in the operation for the safe return of the four people who are cut off in Kenya, Mr. Reppas pointed out that the position of the United States over the Kurdish fighters is known, as they are regarded as "terrorists".

    [10] GOVERNMENTAL COMMITTEE MEETING

    The governmental committee meeting that was held today under the presidency of prime minister Kostas Simitis focused on the "Agenda 2000" that will be discussed in the informal EU summit meeting in Bonn.

    However, among the issues discussed was the operation in progress for the safe transfer of Ocalan's three women associates and Greek National Information Service agent major Savvas Kalenteridis, who are still in Kenya.

    In statements made after the meeting, undersecretary of foreign affairs Yiannos Kranidiotis stressed that there are no problems and everything goes well.

    He pointed out that the contacts of foreign ministry general secretary Mr. Apostolidis with the Kenyan authorities are in progress in Nairobi and expressed the hope that the four, who remain in the Greek embassy in the Kenyan capital, will soon be in Athens. He also stated that foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou is in continuous contact with Mr. Apostolidis and the EU partners.

    [11] KARAMANLIS LAUNCHED AN ATTACK AGAINST THE PRIME MINISTER

    Right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis launched a personal attack against prime minister Kostas Simitis in the speech he delivered in the central committee meeting of his party.

    Mr. Karamanlis characterized as unacceptable the prime minister's persistence to continue to hold on to his post in spite of the fact that the opposition as a whole has called for his resignation over his handling of the Ocalan affair. Mr. Karamanlis stated that Mr. Simitis instead of assuming his responsibilities is looking for scapegoats, observing that everybody else have responsibilities over the issue except the prime minister.

    "The best solution is to have new elections but this can not be imposed by us", stated Mr. Karamanlis, characterizing the prime minister as irresponsible, while he also spoke of a fiasco in the Ocalan affair which is the symptom of a wider crisis in the country. The worst has not come yet, stated Mr. Karamanlis, predicting an escalation of Turkish provocation, while he also said that there will be more pressures exerted on Greece by the European Union.

    [12] NATO AIRCRAFT AND A BRITISH WARSHIP HAVE ARRIVED IN THESSALONIKI

    Four hundred armoured vehicles and tanks have arrived at the Port of Thessaloniki on board a British warship in order to reinforce the military forces that will oversee the implementation of the peace agreements in Kosovo.

    Already, 1.000 NATO troops (French, British and Italians) have passed through Thessaloniki, while it is estimated that by March 6 their number will be 6.000 and by the end of April 26.000.

    Meanwhile, C-130 aircraft with NATO officers have landed at Macedonia Airport.

    [13] MEETING OF THE STATE RADIOS OF GREECE AND FYROM REPRESENTATIVES

    The first bilateral contacts and discussions between the Greek State Radio and FYROM's Public Radio will be held in Skopje on Sunday, according to the Greek State-run Radio, ERA.

    The foundations for the cooperation between them were laid with the minutes signed by the state radio and television organizations of the Balkan countries in the inter-Balkan meeting that was held in Chalkidiki, northern Greece last June, organized by the Greek state-run radio and television, ERT.

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [14] OCALAN TESTIFIES: I HAD NO CONTACT WITH GREEK OFFICIALS

    PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, presently held in a high- security, island-prison in Turkey, has reportedly testified before Ankara's state security magistrates that he had no contact with any officials from the Greek government.

    According to Ankara's daily "Milliyet", which publishes an article titled "Apo: They used me", Mr. Ocalan testified that the Greek secret services provided him with a significant degree of assistance and that there are two PKK camps in Greece on one of which the rebels are being trained on bombing techniques.

    In his 36-page affidavit, the PKK leader is said to have undertaken responsibility for PKK's armed activity, by stating that he directed the organization, without showing remorse for his actions.

    According to "Milliyet", Mr. Ocalan stated that the PKK received financial assistance from Syria, Greece, Iran and Germany.

    "This assistance was not (given) at a governmental level, neither in cash, but rather it enabled us to gather money and create organizations on the grounds of these countries," he is said to have stated.

    Furthermore, Mr. Ocalan is reported by the Turkish daily as having testified that "games are played on Turkey's back" and that he "was used".

    Regarding the issue of drug trafficking, Mr. Ocalan denied that the PKK is involved in such practices, only admitting to receiving exaction amounts from the drug traffickers.

    [15] TALKS CONTINUE TO BRING OCALAN'S FOUR ASSOCIATES TO GREECE

    The Greek government is continuing its negotiations with the Kenyan government in order to safely transport Greek Maj. Savvas Kalenterides, who is an officer with the Greek Intelligence Agency, and the three female colleagues of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan -who have barricaded themselves at the Greek embassy in Nairobi- to Greece.

    The Foreign Ministry‘s secretary-general is presently in Nairobi and, according to reports, the Belgian government has also gotten involved in the return operation, as one of the three PKK members has a Belgian passport.

    [16] PRESIDENT OF CYPRUS REBUFFS TURKISH CLAIMS OF PKK CAMPS

    The President of Cyprus Glafkos Clerides stated that the island is not a breeding ground for Kurdish guerillas, denying Ankara's accusations as "totally unfounded." President Clerides added that there is a United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus which has freedom of movement.

    "If such camps existed they would not have escaped UNFICYP's notice," he said, adding that diplomats on the island would easily have discovered the whereabouts of such camps if the allegations were true.

    "If European countries wish to send representatives to travel freely throughout Cyprus, they too will establish that the accusations that Turkey has leveled against Cyprus are totally unfounded," he added.

    [17] DOCUMENTARY SHOWS GREEK EFFORTS TO SAVE JEWS IN WWII

    The Greek embassy in Washington organized an event for the screening of a documentary titled "It was nothing, It was everything", which recounts the heroic efforts of Greeks to save Greek Jews from the Nazis during WWII.

    The event, jointly organized with the American Jewish Committee (AJC), also featured an address given by Greek ambassador Alexandros Filon, who referred to Greece's struggle and sacrifices during WWII.

    The screening was attended, among others, by special US State Department coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Miller, and the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ben Gilman.

    [18] US SECRETARY OF STATE ALBRIGHT STERNLY WARNS MILOSEVIC

    United States Secretary of State Madleine Albright yesterday warned Yugoslavia that it would be making a big mistake if it conducts strikes against Kosovo's ethnic Albanians.

    NATO has also stated that it is ready to launch air strikes against Serbia if the need arises.

    Ms. Albright referred to evidence held by the US government, according to which, Milosevic is preparing to order the Serb forces on conducting new operations in Kosovo during the spring.

    [19] BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY SUPPORTS UN RESOLUTIONS ON CYPRUS

    Britain is working closely with the United Nations, the EU and the United States for a reduction of tension in Cyprus, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has stated in a letter to the President of the Federation of UK Cypriots, Haris Sophoclides.

    Mr. Cook also said that Britain was working diligently for the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1,218, which calls for tension on the island to be reduced and for an overall Cyprus settlement.

    He added that London strongly endorsed resolution 1,218 and was "working closely with the UN, our EU partners and the US to achieve the full implementation of this resolution."

    The Foreign Secretary also said that the government's decision not to deploy the S-300 missiles had been "a significant contribution to international efforts, in which Britain plays a prominent part, to reduce tension in the region."

    [20] JOURNAL OF COMMERCE: GREEK MERCHANT FLEET IS WORLD'S LARGEST

    Greece held the world's largest shipping power during 1998 with a transport capacity of 123.8 million tons, according to the Journal of Commerce's report from Geneva.

    The report, published yesterday, also stated that Greece also holds a 17.6 per cent stake of the international total.

    [21] TURKEY'S NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS IN ANKARA

    Turkey's National Security Council holds its monthly meeting in Ankara behind closed doors and according Turkish political analysts, it deals with the Ocalan case.

    Meanwhile, two of the Kurdish leader's lawyers await to get permission to see him. Based on a report published by the Turkish newspaper "Hurriyet", one of Ocalan's interrogators stated that they have got from him all the information they wanted and now the procedures are underway in order to bring him to trial.

    According to the news agency "Anadolu", two Turkish lawyers have left this morning for the Imrali prison-island to meet with Ocalan.

    Lawyers Ahmet Okuoglu and Hatis Korkut were taken to Imrali island from Mudania in north-western Turkey by boat after they received permission by the State Security Court.

    [22] TURKEY RE-ESTABLISHES THE VISA REQUIREMENT FOR THE GREEKS

    The Turkish foreign ministry brings back the visa requirement for the Greek citizens who want to visit Turkey. The re- establishment of the visa requirement that had been abolished 14 years ago by the then prime minister Turgut Ozal is included among the measures the Turkish foreign ministry intends to take against Greece as counter-measures in response to the Ocalan affair.

    According to a front page article published by the newspaper "Hurriyet", the procedures for the return of the visa requirement have been completed and a cabinet decision on the issue is expected. A relevant discussion was held in a meeting that was held in the ministry of foreign affairs yesterday.

    -------------------


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