|Monday, 27 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-10-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Greece pulls out of NATO exercise, citing Turkish airspace banNICOSIA, 23-10-2000 (ANA / G. Leonidas)
Greece on Sunday announced its withdrawal from a NATO exercise in the eastern Aegean, citing a ban imposed by Turkey on Greek warplanes and ships in its territory during the war games.
"Greece cannot accept the fact that a NATO country has exploited the exercise on its territory to pursue its claims in the Aegean", Tsohatzopoulos told a news conference in Cyprus.
"Turkey tried to move in this direction, indirectly invalidating collective decisions in the NATO framework, so that the original air corridors for Greek aircraft were scrapped. Although the scheme failed, it went ahead illegally with an attempt to intercept Greek aircraft that were taking part in the Nikiforos - Toxotis maneuvers (between Greece and Cyprus," the minister said in Paphos, western Cyprus.
"Ankara then took the unprecedented step of a NATO country closing its airspace to NATO aircraft, claiming to act in order to avoid 'undesirable results'," he noted.
"Officially, Turkey has announced that it cannot guarantee the NATO exercise's security terms. As a result, continuation of this exercise is impossible," Tsohatzopoulos said.
The pullout followed Greece's request to NATO the previous day that it should halt the Turkish-based maneuvers, codenamed Destined Glory, in the wake of Ankara's ban.
The request was contained in a letter from National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos that was relayed to NATO chief George Robertson in Brussels late on Saturday by Greece's ambassador to NATO.
Tsohatzopoulos, who visited Cyprus to watch the final phase of an unrelated joint Greek military exercise with the island republic, told Robertson Greece strongly protested the illegal ban imposed by Turkey on Saturday.
"Under existing conditions, continuation of the exercise impairs the opportunities for a smoothly-conducted military exercise for all NATO members - in the specific case of Greece - and, chiefly, hurts the effectiveness and credibility of NATO itself," sources quoted the letter as saying.
Tsohatzopoulos also accused Ankara of trying to gain political leverage from the maneuvers, and forcing Greek compliance using military means, which meant the exercise could not be conducted normally, the letter said.
Bypassing existing agreements, Ankara had called a ban on Greek warplanes and naval vessels in Turkish airspace and waters as part of the NATO war game, the Greek minister told reporters on Saturday.
Greece charged that two of its A-7 Corsair bombers were escorted by Turkish jet fighters during a landing exercise in Turkey as part of the Turkish-based exercise, which is due to end on October 25.
In his letter to Robertson, Tsohatzopoulos rapped Turkey for provocative behavior in informing NATO's southern command that it had decided to close its airspace to Greek aircraft flying from Greece, blocking the country's participation in the maneuvers.
Later on Saturday, Ankara had made an unofficial protest to NATO, saying the Greek planes were viewed as hostile in Turkish airspace.
The head of the alliance's southern command in Naples then postponed another flight by the two A-7 Corsairs scheduled for Saturday evening until the dispute was resolved, sources said.
The head of Greek general staff, Manousos Parayoudakis, had also asked NATO to cut short the exercise, earlier on Saturday. He halted Greek activity in the exercise.
 Greek pullout underwayAthens, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
Greece began the withdrawal of its forces from the NATO exercise, with its hardware and personnel due to return later on Sunday. Turkey sees "undesirable results"
In Ankara, Turkey's general staff on Saturday issued a statement saying that "undesirable results
" would follow if Greek warplanes taking part in Destined Glory "continued to violate NATO rules and flight safety rules."
In parallel with its status as a NATO member, Turkey "takes all kinds of measures to protect its rights and interests that derive from international law," the statement said.
 Opposition parties reactAthens, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
In Athens, high-ranking New Democracy cadre Dora Bakoyianni on Sunday criticized the government saying that Athens' delay to confront the Alliance with its responsibilities aggravated the situation.
"The government correctly called on the alliance to take a stand over the flagrant violation of what was agreed to... the foreign minister must brief all the E.U. members over this provocative action..." she added.
Bakoyianni also said a "policy of appeasement", as she called it, did not have the expected results. "This is not an isolated event, as Mr. (George) Papandreou claimed. It's an escalation of Turkish provocativeness".
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Sunday called for the country's disengagement from NATO's new structure, saying the move was essential to the country's security.
"A halt in the NATO exercise or a withdrawal of Greek forces are not enough to defend the country's interests," the KKE said in a statement.
The statement added that continual harassment of the Greek air force by Turkish warplanes "confirms one more time how dangerous for the country's sovereign rights is the acceptance of NATO's new structure."
The Coalition of the Left and Progress said on Saturday that Turkey's move to ban Greek military craft was "a planned act of provocation of undesirable intensity."
The party said that Turkey was exploiting the Destined Glory exercise to extend its territorial claims in the Aegean, tolerated by NATO.
In another brush with Turkey, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas had said on Friday that NATO's legal service had accepted Greece's position that air corridors over the strategically placed Aegean islands of Limnos and Ikaria should be employed during Destined Glory.
Reppas also charged that Ankara had used a "baseless" term in speaking of "demilitarized airspace."
Athens has severely criticized attempts by Ankara in past years to exclude Greek territory, airspace and waters from NATO planning, saying the moves aimed to undermine Greek sovereignty in the region.
 Fresh harassment in exercise with CyprusNICOSIA, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
Tsohatzopouls briefed President Glafcos Clerides on Destined Glory during a private meeting on the bridge of the 'Aegaeo' frigate on Saturday, moored in the port of Larnaca.
The minister is in Cyprus to watch the final phase of a joint military exercise codenamed Nikiforos - Toxotis conducted by Greece and the island republic.
Also on Saturday, Greece said that Greek and Turkish warplanes engaged in mock dogfights between Rhodes and Cyprus while Nikiforos - Toxotis was underway.
Turkish jet fighters had harassed two Greek F16s and two A-7 Corsairs that were taking part in the joint exercise with Cyprus.
Two Greek warplanes in the vicinity intercepted the Turkish planes, and the mock dogfights erupted. The Greek planes nevertheless completed their mission on time.
The incident followed infringements on Friday by Turkish warplanes of the Athens and Nicosia Flight Information Region during the Nikiforos - Toxotis exercise. Harassment was also reported on Thursday, sources said.
 Greek aid to CyprusNICOSIA, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
In Cyprus late on Saturday, the island republic's president, Glafcos Clerides, awarded Tsohatzopoulos the country's highest honor - the Great Cross of the Order of Makarios III.
Clerides told the ceremony that Greece had given Cyprus over 400 million Cyprus pounds' worth of free military aid over the last four years, with the sum covering materiel and training. He also said that Cyprus, which is seeking European Union membership, was ready to offer the 15-nation bloc human resources, materiel and the opportunity to benefit from the island's strategic position in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.
"Cyprus attaches great importance to full participation in European security institutions," Clerides said.
Tsohatzopoulos had made a personal contribution to upgrading military cooperation between the two countries, he added.
The Greek minister told the ceremony that joint defense and security for Cyprus and Greece in the current period represented a firm base for the two countries' European Union orientation.
"Participation by the Cypriot Republic in all European institutions for economic, security, foreign policy and defense cooperation is a reality," Tsohatzopoulos said.
"We (Tsohatzopoulos and the Cypriot defense and foreign ministers) come across each other regularly at these meetings. We have made a start and this signals a new outlook for the Cypriot Republic," he added.
On Sunday, Tsohatzopoulos met Archbishop Chrysostomos, who asked the minister and the Greek government not to forget Cyprus' Hellenism in a period that harbored the greatest danger in its long history.
Tsohatzopoulos told the cleric that there were differences of opinion in tactics for the Cyprus issue, but the objective was a joint effort for the just and sovereign rights of Hellenism and Greece.
Also on Sunday Tsohatzopoulos met with the political leaders of parties represented in Cyprus' House of Representatives.
During an address in Paphos, Tsohatzopoulos reiterated that a solution to the Cyprus problem is a necessary condition for an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations, and that the issue remains a national priority for Greece.
 Tsohatzopoulos: Athens wants better security for Cyprus, island's E.U. accessionNICOSIA, 23-10-2000 (ANA - G. Leonidas)
National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Sunday reiterated that Greece's long-term goals are to improve Cyprus' defense capability along with the island republic accession into the European Union.
Speaking at a new airbase on Cyprus, which recently became operational, Tsohatzopoulos called the Cyprus issue remains has entered a crucial juncture, whereas a strengthening of the island republic's defense and security will upgrade its prospects of joining a regional defense structure.
On his part, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said the Paphos - area air base is ready for use, although he added he hopes it is never used in a conflict.
"If needed, though, it will play a significant role in Cyprus' air defense."
Meanwhile, an annual major military exercise on Cyprus concluded on Sunday. Besides the National Guard, Greek planes, vessels and paratroopers took part.
 Papandreou cites 'inability' of Turkey to meet principlesATLANTA, 23-10-2000 (ANA - I. Afentouli)
Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Sunday cited what he called an "inability" on the part of Turkey to meet certain principles and rules that must be respected by members of NATO and the European Union.
Upon arriving in the southern US city, the Greek FM commented on the reasons behind Greece's withdrawal on Sunday from a NATO exercise based in Turkey over the past week.
He added that Greece, as a country that respects the principles of peace and cooperation, also knows how to firmly defend its sovereign rights.
Papandreou also referred to what he called "internal obstacles" to Turkey's meeting these principles.
Finally, he said the latest developments during the "Destined Glory 2000" exercise and Ankara's conduct were the result of such "internal obstacles", whereas a step-by-step approach between Greece and the neighboring country must continue "in order to support Turkey's European orientation."
Papandreou is currently on a visit to the United States. He is to meet aides of presidential hopefuls Al Gore and George W. Bush Jr.
 More violations of Athens FIR by Turkish warplanes reportedAthens, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
Tension over the skies of the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean due to repeated violations by Turkish warplanes apparently continued on Sunday, according to reports in Athens, with 10 fighters infringing on Athens FIR rules on five occasions.
The same sources said all the Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by Greek planes, while two engagements were reported.
Turkish warplanes took to the skies over the sea region between Rhodes and Cyprus - an area controlled by the Athens and Nicosia FIRS -- during the past week to interfere with Greek fighter planes participating in a military exercise taking place on the free parts of the Cyprus republic.
One-third of Cyprus has been occupied by Turkish troops since a 1974 invasion.
 Karamanlis says 'submissiveness' rampant in foreign policy, cites Himarra and NATO exerciseAthens, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Sunday charged that the government's foreign policy was plagued by a "dangerous submissiveness", while speaking to a crowd of supporters in the central Greek city of Larissa.
The ND leader pointed directly at the latest turn of events in Albania and during the course of a NATO military exercise based in Turkey last week.
In reference to the former, Karamanlis said, "...human rights are violated in a cynical and impudent manner. Persecutions against the Greek minority are heightened in the knowledge that they face a gutless Greek (foreign) policy." He was referring to a series of incidents eight days ago in the southern Albanian town of Himara -- which hosts a sizeable ethnic Greek community -- during a municipal election run-off marred by what the Greek government called fraud and state-sanctioned bullying.
Regarding the unprecedented act by Turkey's military leadership during the course of a NATO exercise in the neighboring country, who demanded that Greek fighter planes participating in the maneuvers not pass over two strategically placed Greek islands in the eastern Aegean that Ankara claims are "demilitarized", Karamanlis emphasized that the incident simply reveals Turkey's unilateral and illegal challenges in the Aegean.
"This demonstrates the great mistake of those who consider foreign policy a matter of personal courtesies and embraces. It also certifies the historical experience, namely, that a policy of appeasement and one-sided concessions increase the audacity of Ankara's expansionists".
"What's necessary", he said, "is a composed policy... our rights in the Aegean are non-negotiable".
Referring to current internal affairs, the ND leader said that vested interests constituted the "greatest threat to democratic institutions". He also accused the government of being "absent from any critical state of emergency".
 Gov't spokesmanAthens, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
In response to Karamanlis address, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas charged that ND's leadership lacks any program that includes solutions to the country's problems.
 Mitsotakis says he's willing to face Samaras in courtAthens, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
Former premier and main opposition New Democracy honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis on Sunday said he would request the lifting of his Parliamentarian's immunity against prosecution in order to face his one-time foreign minister - turned political adversary in a legal showdown.
Former FM Antonis Samaras, who later founded the Political Spring party, has filed a slander lawsuit against Mitsotakis for the latter's recent statements alleging that the former was "bought off" to topple the New Democracy government in 1993.
Speaking during a televised interview, Mitsotakis reiterated his objections to any possibility of Samaras returning to the ND, saying, among others: "Can you imagine our party beginning a war against vested interests with Antonis Samaras as our flag-bearer?"
In a response, sources close to Samaras said, among others, that they hoped Mitsotakis' statement on the immunity was sincere and "doesn't emanate from an estimation that Parliament will not lift it."
 Simitis sends message to Italian centre-left party's congressAthens, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
Prime Minister Costas Simitis expressed his certainty over Italy's Olive Branch coalition's "victorious course", in a message to that party's congress released on Sunday in Athens.
Simitis underlined that globalization "can be confronted only by the clear supremacy of politics vis-à-vis economy".
"The common action of the forces of progress and modernization becomes imperative for the implementation of rules of conduct and the coordination of mechanisms that can influence economic and technological potential, and transform them into achievements for the well-being of man," Simitis stressed in his message.
The premier also noted the obligation of center-left parties, "that are in power in most of the European countries, to extend everywhere their network of solidarity, friendship, mutual understanding, cooperation and common thought".
 Papandreou begins US visitCHICAGO, 23-10-2000 (ANA / I. Afendouli)
Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who began a visit to the US this weekend, is to meet aides of presidential hopefuls Al Gore and George Bush this week.
Papandreou, whose visit ends on Friday, will also hold meetings with the ethnic Greek community in the US.
On Saturday, the minister addressed a 25th birthday celebration for the United Hellenic American Congress headed by Andrew Athens, president of the Thessaloniki - based World Council for Overseas Hellenes.
He spoke of Greece's role in the Balkans, the symbol of which was Greece's contribution to a smooth transfer of power in Yugoslavia, and called on ethnic Greeks to back reconstruction and stability in the Balkans by investing there. Papandreou is also to visit Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.
The minister will ask ethnic Greeks in the US to support the Athens 2004 Olympics by promoting the event in the US and setting up volunteer groups. He will also seek backing for the government's idea of an Olympic Truce during the Games.
 Albanian PM hopes election rift won't hurt ties with GreeceALBANIA, 23-10-2000 (ANA/ I. Paco)
Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta said that he hoped disagreements with Greece stemming from regional elections in his country this month would not damage ties between the two countries.
"I think that what happened was the result of sentiment and attention-seeking that are part of an election campaign, regard-less of whether some limits are exceeded, but everything has quietened down now, and will do so even further," Meta told the Klian (phonetic spelling) TV station in an interview on Friday. A Greek party that stood in the elections and Greece's government had challenged the result in the town of Himara, south of Tirana, claiming that the vote had been manipulated.
"I am sure this will not affect relations with Greece. Because I hope that the Greek government and Mr. (Costas) Simitis, especially, represent an example for other countries too. That, in other words, relations should be built with neighboring countries and that some problems should be overcome," he said.
Meta also welcomed what he called a "realistic" and "calm" response shown by some Greek media to the election challenge. He said it would be helpful if Albanian media softened their tone towards Greece.
 Patras welcomes Vartholomeos with full honorsAthens, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
The city of Patras on Saturday welcomed Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos with honors accorded to heads of state in a ceremony attended by local officials, deputies and Greek Orthodox worshippers.
In a speech, Patriarch Vartholomeos reviewed Patras' history and mentioned notable public figures who came from the city, including President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos.
The Patriarch also received an honorary doctorate at Patras University.
He told the award ceremony that both Greek and Turkish education failed to instill a sense of morality in children, despite the two countries' good intentions.
Five people were arrested during the Patriarch's visit for distributing leaflets against the cleric.
 Farm minister outlines policy prioritiesPARIS, 23-10-2000 (ANA/M.Tsivyeli)
Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis on Sunday outlined his goals for domestic farming on the sidelines of Sial 2000, an international food and beverages trade fair in the French capital.
The main priorities were an overhaul of the sector, an improvement of infrastructure and a focus on water resource management, Anomeritis told reporters.
Funding for agriculture for the next six years totaled 11 trillion drachmas, of which 7.0 trillion would be used to subsidize pro-ducts, the minister added.
 Communist trade unionists hold Athens rallyAthens, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
Trade unionists aligned to the Communist Party of Greece on Saturday held a rally in central Athens to protest against a planned government overhaul of the labor market.
Speakers at the rally blasted the General Confederation of Greek Labor, which represents nearly a million public and private sector workers, and the ADEDY civil servants union for what they called its flaccid stand against the government's plan.
 European women farmers' conference begins in IoanninaAthens, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
A two-day conference of European women farmers' began on Sunday in the northern city of Ioannina, focusing on farm policies in the 21st century.
Participating in the conference, held under the auspices of Greece's agriculture ministry, are women from Greece and other European Union member-states as well as other European countries.
 Bank of Cyprus holds successful Athens IPONICOSIA, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
The Bank of Cyprus held a successful initial public offer last week that will make it the first foreign company to join the Athens Stock Exchange. Welcoming the oversubscribed IPO, the bank's chairman, Solon Triantafyllides, urged buyers to retain their stock. He also announced that the banking group would open a stock brokerage in Greece.
 Six dead in two-car collisionAthens, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
Six people, including three foreign nationals, were killed and one 17-year-old woman was seriously injured in a car crash Sunday on the 39th kilometers of the Thessaloniki - Serres roadway.
Police identified the dead as Moldovans Ludovica Gernei, 47, and Evdokia Ivascu, 53, 28-year-old Romanian Victor Bansescu, and the driver Victor Iordanov, 30, a Thessaloniki resident. The 17-year-old Moldovan was hospitalised with serious injuries. Two local men, a father and son, traveling in the other vehicle were also killed.
 Migrant trafficking suspects nabbed after ship caught in galeAthens, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
Five Turks are to appear before a public prosecutor to hear charges of migrant trafficking after a Turkish cargo ship carrying hundreds of illegal migrants, including children, was towed to the port of Mesta, on the eastern Aegean island of Chios, coastguard officials said on Sunday.
The size of the trafficking operation - 655 migrants - is the largest ever recorded in Greece, the officials said.
Also arrested and due to hear charges on Chios were the seven-member crew of the Turkish-flagged Funda whose members were from Ukraine, Turkey and Moldova. The vessel was seized. The migrants - 142 children, 59 women and 454 men - were given food and shelter in a local sports stadium, the officials said. According to the Funda's captain, the vessel had sailed from Canakkale in Turkey and was headed for Italy. The ship had anchored off the island of Chios, seeking shelter in a gale. The migrants had initially refused food and water offered by coastguard officials, throwing it overboard. They had also refused to be towed to a safe anchorage, insisting that Italy was their destination.
When their agreement was secured late on Friday, the ship was towed to Chios and the migrants were led to the stadium in Pyrgi. Taken to a local hospital for check-ups were 13 children, six women and five men. In revised figures of the total number of migrants, the merchant marine ministry said in a statement on Sunday that aboard were 126 Afghans, 84 Palestinians, 266 Iraqis, 47 Turks, 50 Turkish Kurds, 1 Burmese, 5 Bangladeshis, 10 Iranians, 60 Moroccans, 3 Sri Lankans and 3 Somalis.
Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Friday asked Turkey to take back the migrants. Papoutsis said on Sunday that he had asked Turkish authorities to step up controls to stop trafficking ventures from the neighboring country's shores to Greece and other European countries.
Since the start of the year, Greek authorities have seized 36 ships carrying a total of 3,469 illegal migrants and taken 130 migrant traffickers to court.
 Kalamata short-film festival opensAthens, 23-10-2000 (ANA)
The second annual Kalamata international short-film festival opened on Sunday with a special ceremony at the city's cultural center. Competing in the festival are 17 Greek and 27 foreign productions.