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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 22/02/1999 (ANA)


  • EU calls for fair trial for Ocalan
  • Greek FM fully satisfied with statement
  • Athens lashes out at Turkish comments
  • Swiss tourist missing
  • Premier briefs counterparts
  • European lawyers on Ocalan
  • Intelligence chief resigns in wake of Ocalan issue
  • Asylum for Ocalan aide being considered
  • Hellenic Petroleum denies Greenpeace charges after fire
  • Veteran journalist dies
  • Rail strikes called off
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


EU calls for fair trial for Ocalan

European Union foreign ministers on Monday issued a statement condemning all forms of terrorism and stressing that the fight against terrorism had to respect all human rights and democratic rules. The statement called on Turkey to take all the necessary measures so as to ensure Kurd rebel 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. If Turkey is prepared to satisfactorily meet the above issues, the European Union is prepared to extend all forms of assistance, including financial, the foreign ministers said.

Greek FM fully satisfied with statement

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, speaking shortly after the statement was issued, said he was fully satisfied with the content of the statement. "This statement gives Turkey the opportunity, if it meets the conditions set out in the statement, to strengthen its ties with the European Union," Papandreou told reporters at a news conference. Greece, he added, had insisted on the statement because a large number of Kurdish political refugees had found sanctuary in Greece and other European countries and because it believed the statement would contribute to achieving stability in the wider region of the Balkans. He underlined that Turkey as a member of the Council of Europe would have to satisfy a series of commitments in relation to Ocalan's trial.

Athens lashes out at Turkish comments

Greece has lashed out at Turkey over its attack on the government stemming from the Ocalan affair. "Using inaccuracy and fabrication Turkey is trying to create a whole intrigue at Greece's expense. It is building up an outside enemy in order to divert international attention away from the basic problem, which is recognition and respect for the rights of the Kurdish people," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Sunday evening. The spokesman was responding to statements on the same day by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.

Swiss tourist missing

Police have launched a search for a Swiss tourist who went missing near Iraklio on the island of Crete, authorities said on Monday. The disappearance of the man, identified as Gerard Faton (phonetic spelling), 49, was reported by a Swiss friend, who told police he disappeared on Sunday while they were cycling on the Ano Vianno-Pyrgos road. The two cyclists were about 150 metres apart when Faton vanished, the friend said. After failing to locate him, she contacted police. Local residents are also searching for Faton, who was reportedly seen cycling from Pyrgos towards the Rethymno road.

Premier briefs counterparts

Prime minister Costas Simitis has commumicated to his Portuguese and Swedish countgerparts, Antonio Guterres and Goran Persson respectively, Greece's intention to raise the issue of the recently arrested Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan by Turkey to the European Union's General Affairs Council on Monday, February 22, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Saturday. Reppas added the two foreign leaders agreed that the issue should be discussed and that decisions should be made. Ocalan, who is to be tried by Ankara on charges of terrorism, was handed to men of the Turkish special forces by Kenyan authorities Monday, after spending 12 days under Greek diplomatic protection in Nairobi.

European lawyers on Ocalan

The Union of European Lawyers Associations (CCBE) on Saturday called on Turkish authorities to give imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan a fair trial, and refrain from imposing the death sentence. "Through its particpation in the Coucil of Europe, Turkey has obligations that mean guaranteeing a fair and open trial in line with the principles of international law," the CCBE said in a statement. The association's president is Sotirios Yelios, a Greek lawyer.

Intelligence chief resigns in wake of Ocalan issue

The head of the National Information Service (EYP), Charalambos Stavrakakis, submitted his resignation on Friday after being asked to do so by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in the wake of the capture and transfer to Turkey of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan. Announcing Stavrakakis' resignation, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Simitis also underlined the need for a "radical overhaul" of Greece's intelligence service. His resignation follows those of three ministers on Thursday over their role in the Ocalan affair.

Asylum for Ocalan aide being considered

Greece intends to grant political asylum to one of the three female aides of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan who remain in the Greek embassy in Nairobi, after he was arrested and handed over to Turkish security men Monday, diplomatic sources said. The other two women are said to be in possession of travel documents facilitating their smooth passage. Greek ambassador Giorgos Kostoulas is to remain in the Kenyan capital until the end of the month, to ensure that all three leave safely, the sources added.

Hellenic Petroleum denies Greenpeace charges after fire

Hellenic Petroleum on Saturday rejected allegations by the Greenpeace environmental organisation that negligence was to blame for a fire at a northern refinery that left one worker seriously injured. "This unfortanate incident is not unusual at refineries. Of more importance is an immediate, coordinated and effective response, as happened in this case," the state- owned company said in a statement. The blaze in the early hours of Friday morning broke out about 500 yards from liquid fuel storage tanks and was quickly extinguished. A worker suffered serious burns while trying to put out the fire. Greenpeace claimed on Friday that the company lacked safety measures, endangering the residents of Thessaloniki, where the refinery is located.

Veteran journalist dies

Vetaran Greek journalist and former president of the Athens Union of Journalists Dimitris Mathiopoulos died Sunday at the age of 65 from a heart attack. Mathiopoulos, who was born in Messinia prefecture in 1934, entered journalist in 1960 and worked for the then daily To VIMA newspaper, and the weekly newsmagazine Tachydromos. A recipient of the Botsis Foundation prize for his contribution to journalism, Mathiopoulos served as president of the Athens Union of Journalists-ESHEA for two terms and as secretary general of the union for eight years before that. He resigned during his second term as union president to stand for parliament with the Political Spring party, whose press bureau he undertook after his retirement. Mathiopoulos' funeral will be held Tuesday, at 12:30 p.m. at Athens First Cemetery.

Rail strikes called off

Workers at the OSE state-run railways organisation have called off work stoppages called for Monday after a court ruled the industrial action illegal


The outlook for Tuesday is overcast with local rain and storms in the west. Clouds will clear in the afternoon. Winds will be southwesterly strong to glae force, abating in the afternoon. Temperatures in the north will range from 3-10, on the mainland and Ionian 5-16, and in the Aegean 9-17. Athens will be overcast with possible rain in the morning, 9-16. The forecast for Thessaloniki is the same, 4-10.


Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 285.795 Pound sterling 466.657 Japanese yen (100) 238.606 French franc 48.717 German mark 163.390 Italian lira (100) 16.504 Irish Punt 405.761 Belgian franc 7.922 Luxembourg franc 7.922 Finnish mark 53.747 Dutch guilder 145.012 Danish kr. 42.997 Austrian sch. 23.224 Spanish peseta 1.921 Swedish kr. 35.871 Norwegian kr. 36.716 Swiss franc 199.838 Port. Escudo 1.594 Aus. dollar 182.389 Can. dollar 192.408 Cyprus pound 550.560 Euro 319.563


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