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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-03-01

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, 01/03/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • PM rejects allegations against Greece in Ocalan affair
  • Theodorakis will not join concert
  • Karamanlis calls for Simitis' resignation
  • Athens says latest Turkish barrage of claims 'lead nowhere'
  • Gov't denies that Pangalos visit to Kenya in Nov. linked to Ocalan
  • Tsohatzopoulos calls for unity to reverse `heavy atmosphere`
  • Venizelos on PASOK congress
  • US officials deny Ankara claims on transfer of NATO technology
  • Judicial inquiry over Ocalan's presence in Greece nears completion
  • Three Ocalan aides depart Athens hotel
  • Badouvas expelled from PASOK's Parliament group
  • Results of PASOK delegates election may be released today
  • Hi-tech passport detection system on Greek-Bulgarian border
  • Kaklamanis on Ocalan aide's statements
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

PM rejects allegations against Greece in Ocalan affair

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday lashed out after an aide to captured Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan alleged Greek government collusion in Ocalan's apprehension by Turkey.

"Some people are attempting to blacken the image of Greece," the premier stressed.

Ocalan's aide Semse (Dillan) Kilic openly charged the Greek government with involvement in a conspiracy against Ocalan, although she didn't present any evidence.

"Greece over the years has helped 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 'Kurdisation' of Greek-Turkish relations and foreign policy," he told reporters in Piraeus.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas on Saturday said 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 Kilic's statements on Saturday "equalled the most obscene Turkish propaganda and cannot be tolerated."

Ms. Kilic, a Belgian passport holder, was one of the three aides of Ocalan, now a prisoner in Turkey. She held a press conference on Saturday afternoon.

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

Ms Kilic openly charged the Greek government with involvement in a conspiracy against Ocalan, although she failed to present any evidence.

She also claimed that Mr. Simitis, former FM Theodoros Pangalos, former public order minister Philippos Pestalinikos, former interior minister Alekos Papadopoulos and the head of the Greek intelligence service played an "active role in realising the plans of the United States, Israel and Turkey and Russia" regarding Ocalan's fate.

Ms Kilic did not provide evidence for the collusion accusations levelled against the Greek, US, Israeli, Russian and Kenyan governments. On several occasions she also questioned the reasons for Mr. Pangalos' visit to Kenya last November.

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

Theodorakis will not join concert

Finally, Mikis Theodorakis, the noted Greek composer of the musical score for the film "Zorba the Greek", among others, said late on Saturday he and his orchestra would not participate in a planned solidarity concert for the Kurds on Monday evening, follo wing Ms Kilic's claims.

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

He also called her 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".

Karamanlis calls for Simitis' resignation

Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said yesterday that he did not want to believe the claims by Ms Kilic, namely, that the Greek government had handed him over to Turkey. He stressed, however, that the damage to the country's standing had been done and that 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," Mr. Karamanlis said on Crete, during a tour of the island.

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

Athens says latest Turkish barrage of claims 'lead nowhere'

The Greek government yesterday emphasised that Ankara's stance vis-a-vis Athens "leads nowhere", in response to the latest barrage of claims by Turkish President Suleyman Demirel over alleged cooperation between Greece and the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) .

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the "slanderous attacks against Greece are unjustified and aim at cultivating a climate of tension in Greek- Turkish relations."

Turkey, he said, instead of assuming its responsibilities, solving the Kurdish issue and its other problems, attempts to avoid them and shift the responsibility elsewhere.

"That's why it (Turkey) is trying to create a foreign enemy: Greece...in vain. Its (Turkey) stance leads nowhere," the government spokesman added.

Turkey's political and military leadership sharply attacked Greece and raised tension over the past week, mostly regurgitating oft-repeated claims of Athens' alleged involvement with the Kurdish rebel forces active in SE Anatolia.

Gov't denies that Pangalos visit to Kenya in Nov. linked to Ocalan

The foreign ministry yesterday denied that former FM Theodoros Pangalos visited Kenya to discuss any deal to hand over Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, as charged by one of his top aides on Saturday.

Mr. Pangalos made an official visit to Africa in November 1998 that was organised at the beginning of the year and announced to the press in May, an announcement by a 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 read.

"It is beyond any sense and imagination that an official visit organised at the beginning of the previous year and announced to reporters in May could have any relationship to the events which followed much later...A search of our records reveals that pre parations for the trip were made well in advance, while the itinerary had been distributed by mid-August. This programme shows that the trip was set for Nov. 16-20 to Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia," the statement added.

Tsohatzopoulos calls for unity to reverse `heavy atmosphere`

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday called on supporters of ruling PASOK to work together to reverse a "heavy atmosphere" clinging to the government in the wake of the Ocalan affair, as he noted.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was speaking to reporters as about 215,000 PASOK rank and file went to the polls to elect some 5,500 delegates for the ruling party's congress later this month.

He 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 said, "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.

Venizelos on PASOK congress

Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday said there was not an issue of leadership in PASOK and stressed the need for "a ideological and political congress."

He added that it would be "tragic" for the Ocalan affair to become an issue of party or intra-party confrontation.

Speaking to reporters in Thessaloniki, where he voted for the PASOK congress delegate elections, he also said the government is obliged to meet the challenge of current conditions...and to display optimism within the country.

US officials deny Ankara claims on transfer of NATO technology

The national defence ministry on Saturday issued a press release stressing that attempts to upset Greek-US 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" in its Saturday's edition and citing US State Department officials, "Greece did not transfer technology nor did it intend to." State Department officials also referred to false charges.

According to the Washington paper, the US administration 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."

Judicial inquiry over Ocalan's presence in Greece nears completion

The judicial inquiry over the circumstances surrounding Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan's entry and stay in Greece was expected to convene yesterday with the testimony of Greece's ambassador to Nairobi, Georgios Costoulas.

Sources close to the inquiry by three prosecutors said there was a likelihood that Greek intelligence agent 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 Mr. Kalenderidis and Mr. Costoulas completed several hours of testimony late Saturday evening.

In statements to waiting reporters, Sesme (Dillan) Kilic said her statements during a press conference on Saturday regarding Athens' complicity in Ocalan's capture by Turkey had been misrepresented. "We thank the Greek people and the new foreign minister, George Papandreou, for helping us leave Kenya," she said.

"We did not refer to the whole of the Greek government but to specific members, the three former ministers and the former head of the Greek intelligence service."

She also said the three Kurdish female aides to Ocalan were willing to testify as witnesses at a Parliamentary fact-finding commission to be established to investigate the Ocalan affair.

Mr. Kalenteridis, who accompanied the trio back to Athens from Kenya, was questioned by court investigators early Satuday morning.

According to sources, he will be summoned for further questioning within the next three days.

Three Ocalan aides depart Athens hotel

The three aides of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan brought to Athens from Nairobi by the government left a downtown Athens hotel yesterday afternoon.

The Kurdish women told reporters they would remain at the residences of acquaintances until further notice.

Semse Kilic thanked those who had stood by them, including reporters and hotel staff, adding that their departure from the hotel was for the best.

The trio undertook responsibility in writing for anything that might happen to them after their departure from the hotel, as the government said it would no longer provide protection.

Badouvas expelled from PASOK's Parliament group

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday officially notified Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis that PASOK deputy Costas Badouvas was expelled from the ruling party's Parliament group.

The expulsion followed Mr. Badouvas' interview with the Athens morning daily "Akropolis" regarding the Ocalan affair.

The Irakleio area deputy is among the primary figures in the Ocalan affair.

Results of PASOK delegates election may be released today

Balloting for some 5,500 deletates at the 5th PASOK party congress was concluded yesterday at around 7 p.m.

Final results will most likely be released today.

This month's PASOK congress has developed into a rather significant display of internal balances of power, following the Ocalan affair and its repercussions on the PASOK government.

Hi-tech passport detection system on Greek-Bulgarian border

Greece has granted a high resolution system for transferring image and data to Bulgaria's public order ministry in order to connect the neighbouring country "on-line" with its border posts on the Greek-Bulgarian frontier.

The Greek-made "Photophon" system is geared at spotting fake or adulterated passports, combining image with an on-line telephone connection between each border post and the Sofia headquarters.

According to Greek officials, Bulgaria is the first country outside the EU to implement the system.

Kaklamanis on Ocalan aide's statements

Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, commenting yesterday on the controversial press conference by a close Ocalan aide in Athens on Saturday, said "the lady and all those who cooperated with her in this suspicious indictment do not understand that t hey've led the entire country into an adventure with their mistakes."

He was referring to statements by close Ocalan aide Sesme (Dillan) Kilic, who was evacuated last week from the Greek embassy in Nairobi.

Mr. Kaklamanis, speaking to reporters following a Church service for Orthodoxy Sunday, also said that "Ankara is cultivating an aggressive strategy, and we need unity as well as a solid front and not light- heartedness when we evaluate events."

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather is forecast around the country today with cloud in the west and north. Athens will be sunny with temperatures ranging from 5C to 17C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures 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.E.)


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