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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-25

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 25/02/1999 (ANA)


  • Embassy four en route to Athens
  • Foreign ministry secures safe passage
  • FM confers with U.S. envoy
  • Greece dismisses Turkish allegations
  • Defence minister slams Turkish tactics
  • Justice minister called into Ocalan inquiry
  • President to visit Uzbekistan
  • Cretan police scour island for 21 fugitives
  • Earthquake on Crete registers 4.1
  • 12 illegal immigrants arrested
  • Three Romanian burglars nabbed
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Embassy four en route to Athens

Three aides to captured Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan and a Greek intelligence officer were en route to Athens from Nairobi after the Greek foreign ministry negotiated their safe passage out of Kenya. Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Thursday authorised a foreign ministry official in Kenya to begin the operation to bring four people back to Athens. The four have been holed up at the Greek embassy in Kenya since early last week when Turkish secret service agents nabbed Ocalan en route to the airport after spending 12 days at the embassy.

Foreign ministry secures safe passage

Papandreou led a high-level meeting at the interior ministry coordinating the operation to get the four people out of Kenya. At the meeting were Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoides. "There is a written assurance from the Kenyan side for the safety of the four people who remained in our embassy in Nairobi," Papandreou said. He said he had talks with his European Union counterparts who confirmed their support over the issue. Two cars from the Kenyan foreign ministry were to lead the motorcade to the airport, with another four containing Kenyan police following. The Swedish consul was present at the Nairobi airport, while the Belgian ambassador followed the cars with the four people to the airport.

FM confers with U.S. envoy

Foreign Minister George Papandreou had a nearly hour-long meeting today with US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns during which, according to sources, Papandreou briefed the envoy on Athens' efforts to secure safe passage for four persons holed up at the Greek embassy in Nairobi. Papandreou briefed Burns on Greece's views on the Ocalan issue, reiterating that Athens did not want the issue to be turned into a Greek-Turkish affair but should be handled in light of the need for respect of human rights. The two men also discussed recent developments in Kosovo given the imminent agreement between Serbia and Kosovo Albanians at the Rambuillet talks, the sources said.

Greece dismisses Turkish allegations

Greece on Thursday dismissed a volley of charges from Turkey over its role in the Ocalan affair, saying Turkey had best deal with its problems, such as the rights of the Kurdish people. "These charges are baseless," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in response to questions about Turkish claims that Greece aided and abetted Abdullah Ocalan's Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK). Prime Minister Costas Simitis has written to his 14 European Union counterparts about the issue, he added. Simitis will be seeing his counterparts at Friday's EU summit.

Defence minister slams Turkish tactics

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos today accused Turkey of using wrong tactics and falling into a dangerous path in verbally escalating tension with Greece on the pretext of the Ocalan issue, for the purpose of concealing its own responsibilities. Speaking at the Elefsis Shipyards during the delivery of the tank carrier "Lesvos" to the Greek Navy, Tsohatzopoulos said that Turkey, which occupied the northern sector of the Republic of Cyprus, used its military strenth and violence to invade neighbouring states and used state violence in order to achieve calm domestically, was in no position to accuse Greece of being identified with terrorism. "Turkey totally lacks the credibility to charge Greece of having any relationship with terrorism," he said. "It is Turkey which is being judged in the Ocalan case. it is Turkey that must prove that it is in a position to apply international law and respect human rights if it desires a prospect of convergence with the European Union and cooperation with the neighbouring peoples," Tsohatzopoulos said.

Justice minister called into Ocalan inquiry

Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos will be called in to testify to the court inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the illegal entry of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan to Greece, a court official said. Yiannopoulos is being subpoened over remarks made during a television interview earlier this week in which he said a Greek intelligence officer despatched to the Greek embassy in Nairobi to provide security for Ocalan was actually in the pay of the Israeli secret service. The inquiry into the circumstances of how Ocalan was brought to Greece without the prior knowledge of the government was ordered last week, in the wake of the news that Ocalan had been captured in Kenya by Turkish security forces. On Thursday, former public order minister Philippos Petsalnikos, who lost his job over the affair, testified over his involvement in the matter.

President to visit Uzbekistan

President Costis Stephanopoulos begins a three-day official visit to Uzbekistan on Monday, at the invitation of his counterpart Islam Karimof. Greece and Uzbekistan signed a friendship and cooperation pact and a series of cooperation agreements in commerce, technology, training and tourism when Karimof visited Greece on April 1, 1997. Newly appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis will accompany the Greek president on his visit.

Cretan police scour island for 21 fugitives

Police on the island of Crete have launched a manhunt to locate 21 foreign convicts who escaped from the Neapolis prision in Lassithi, police said today. They said it was discovered during the morning roll call that a Romanian and 20 Albanian prisoners were missing. The escapees had been incarcerated in a corridor in the northwest division of the prison that had been turned into a cell. Police said the convicts had used a saw-blade to cut the cell's bars. Most of the convicts were serving long sentences, they said. The prison, designed to hold 60 inmates, currently houses 140 convicts.

Earthquake on Crete registers 4.1

An earthquake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale rocked northeastern Crete early today, but no injuries or damage were reported. The quake struck at 12:47 a.m., with its epicentre in the sea east of Iraklion, the Athens Geodynamics Institute said.

12 illegal immigrants arrested

Twelve illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq were arrested today on a remote beach on the island of Kos, local harbour authorities said. The immigrants told the harbour authorities that they had been transported from the Turkish coast in a green speedboat driven by a Pakistani, and disembarked at dawn on a beach in the Psalidi area. The immigrants said they had paid an unidentified Turk 2,000 dollars each.

Three Romanian burglars nabbed

Three Romanian nationals were arrested early today as they tried to burgle a jeweller's shop in the Kolonos suburb in western Athens, police said. They said Nikosov Nastazen, 31, Nicolae Valean, 28 and Stefan Dohorea, 29, were arrested after the alarm went off in a jewelry shop they broke into, while a fourth accomplice escaped. The detainees entered the jewlery shop after digging a hole in the wall between the shop and an abandoned two- storey house they had broken into. The three were found with burglary tools in their posession.


Cloudy weather and local rain will prevail in most parts of Greece today. Snowfall in the mountainous regions of central and northern Greece. Winds westerly, southwesterly, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny with possibility of rain in the evening and temperatures between 6-15C. Scattered showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3-9C.


Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 290.458 Pound sterling 465.208 Japanese yen (100) 239.489 French franc 48.757 German mark 163.522 Italian lira (100) 16.518 Irish Punt 406.089 Belgian franc 7.928 Luxembourg franc 7.928 Finnish mark 53.790 Dutch guilder 145.129 Danish kr. 43.019 Austrian sch. 23.243 Spanish peseta 1.922 Swedish kr. 35.867 Norwegian kr. 36.980 Swiss franc 200.766 Port. Escudo 1.595 Aus. dollar 183.222 Can. dollar 193.182 Cyprus pound 550.560 Euro 319.821


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