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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-17

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 17/02/1999 (ANA)


  • Greece to raise Ocalan issue at EU
  • Full government support for FM
  • Opposition calls for urgent debate
  • Four Kurds still in Nairobi embassy
  • Bomb hoax in Thessaloniki
  • President denies handover reports
  • 24 injured in bus collision
  • Albanian drug smugglers use women, children
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Greece to raise Ocalan issue at EU

Greece will raise the issue of the capture in Kenya of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan at Monday's meeting of the European Union General Affairs Council, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Wednesday. The government will be represented at the meeting by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who will also raise the issue of the conditions under which Ocalan is being held in Turkey and his forthcoming trial. In the meantime, Reppas said, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who is still in bed with flu, will tomorrow chair a joint meeting of the inner cabinet and the ruling PASOK party's political secretariat.

Full government support for FM

Reppas gave full support to Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos regarding his handling of the situation. Eight PASOK deputies have called for Pangalos' resignation following Ocalan's capture and subsequent transfer to Turkey early Monday morning. "Mr. Pangalos performed his duties in a responsible and effective manner. He followed the government's policy and safeguarded the country's interests in the best possible way," Reppas said. The spokesman said there was no question of Pangalos resigning.

Opposition calls for urgent debate

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday called for an off-the-agenda parliamentary debate on the capture of rebel Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan in Kenya and his subsequent transfer to Turkey. The call was contained in a letter submitted to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis which charged that the government was following "a dangerous and failed foreign policy". The letter further maintained that the handling of the Ocalan affair by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos had brought shame on the country, created grave dangers "and made enemies even out of the enemies of our enemies". situations and follows tactics which jeopardise the country's interests," Karamanlis said in the letter.

Four Kurds still in Nairobi embassy

Information that the Kenyan authorities were preparing to arrest four Kurds in the Greek embassy in Nairobi and turn them over to the Turkish authorities forced Parliament's external affairs committee to hastily cut short a discussion of developments regarding Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan's arrest in Kenya and handover to Turkey. Honorary president of main opposition New Democracy (ND) Constantine Mitsotakis told the committee of the "information", prompting a discussion on whether Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos should go to the ministry to deal with the matter. The committee agreed to discontinue its session for Pangalos to return the foreign ministry to handle the situation.

Bomb hoax in Thessaloniki

An anonymous caller claiming to represent a Kurdish group phoned a Thessaloniki newspaper and news agency on Wednesday to warn of a bomb set to go off at midday the city's main courthouse. Police evacuated the building but failed to find any trace of a bomb, officials said. The telephone call, to newspaper 'Macedonia' and the Macedonian Press Agency at about 11.30 a.m., was from a man speaking broken Greek and claiming to represent a Kurdish national liberation movement.

President denies handover reports

President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos on Wednesday categorically denied allegations that Greece "handed over" rebel Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan to Turkey, but conceded that there could have been mistakes in Athens' handling of the issue. Speaking to reporters accompanying him on the return of a three-day official visit to Austria he cut short after Ocalan's arrest in Kenya after spending 12 days at the Greek ambassador's home in Nairobi, Stephanopoulos said he was saddened when he heard television stations blaming Greece over the developments in the Ocalan affair. The Greek head of state said there needed to be a convincing response to the allegations, adding that mistaken handling was possible in a difficult situation.

24 injured in bus collision

Twenty-four persons were injured when two buses carrying elderly excursionists collided Wednesday on a main thoroughfare in Hasia, northwestern Athens. The accident occurred when the second of two tourist coaches carrying 80 members of a senior citizens' recreation centre (KAPI) from Galatsi suburb were returning from a pilgrimage to Aghios Kyprianos monastery in Hasia suffered brake failure and rammed into the first coach. The impact caused the front coach to skid off the road and fall into a ravine, while the second coach swerved into the opposite lane and crashed into the hillside.

Albanian drug smugglers use women, children

Five Albanian narcotics smugglers who used forty women and children as cover were arrested in possession of 150 kilos of hashish outside the village of Leptokarya, Florina on Wednesday. According to the police, the five had admitted to using their compatriots as cover so that they would have time to escape if the group was spotted by one of the joint army and police patrols in the region. The five were identified as Vasil Kalemi, 33, Sokol Kuazimi, 24, M.K., 15, Halit Tzieta, 39 and Petrit Mema, 30 who were due to be officially charged by a public prosecutor later today. The group of women and children split up just before the police moved in on the smugglers and are believed to have made their way back over the border into Albania. Police said it was not the first time Albanian drug smugglers had used women and children in this way.


Overcast weather and sporadic showers will prevail in most parts of Greece today and mainly in the northern and eastern regions today. Winds variable, light to moderate. Overcast with intermittent rain in Athens with temperatures will ranging between 7-13C. Overcast in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0-10C.


Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 285.855 Pound sterling 467.411 Japanese yen (100) 243.109 French franc 48.775 German mark 163.583 Italian lira (100) 16.524 Irish Punt 406.240 Belgian franc 7.931 Luxembourg franc 7.931 Finnish mark 53.810 Dutch guilder 145.182 Danish kr. 43.035 Austrian sch. 23.250 Spanish peseta 1.922 Swedish kr. 36.079 Norwegian kr. 37.061 Swiss franc 200.067 Port. Escudo 1.596 Aus. dollar 183.351 Can. dollar 189.532 Cyprus pound 550.560 euro 319.940


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