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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-03-08

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, 08/03/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece reiterates decisiveness in face of continued Turkish threats
  • Int'l gold for Greek sprinter Thanou
  • Simitis: Effort by many to use Ocalan affair to overthrow gov't
  • Tsohatzopoulos says he's not a candidate for PASOK leadership
  • G. Papandreou on Greek-Turkish relations
  • Daily publishes Greek ambassador's report on Osalan affair
  • Charges in press leak
  • Constantopoulos criticises gov't, leaking of ambassador's report
  • Papariga calls for double elections in June
  • Church announces its intention to support large families
  • Stephanopoulos message on int'l day of women
  • Greek expatriates from ex-Soviet Union total 150,000
  • Greek first division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece reiterates decisiveness in face of continued Turkish threats

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday lashed out at Ankara over continued attacks against Athens in the aftermath of the Ocalan affair, with the Greek minister warning Turkey to "stop playing with fire."

In an interview with a private television channel, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos warned that if Turkey "creates an incident", the response would be such that "will not allow any questioning of Greece's national sovereign rights..."

"It must be made clear so that no one will play with fire," he said, adding that the warning was also directed at third parties, which he refrained from identifying.

Commenting on Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan's forthcoming trial by a Turkish court, the Greek defence minister referred to a "travesty of a trial" and predicted that its outcome would be unfavourable and devastating for the Kurdish leader, even if the verdict is not carried out.

Referring to Ocalan's eventual capture by the Turks and the Greek government's handlings, he said Athens tried to handle the issue in the most humanitarian way for the Kurdish leader, while he also spoke of Greece and Kenya's entrapment by the intelligence services of other countries, which he did not name, and which in essence handed Ocalan over to Turkey without it doing anything.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos criticised Turkey's stance on the Kurdish issue, saying that its attitude towards the Kurds was "very cruel".

"Turkey believes that its national security is being threatened if the Kurds speak their own language...Turkey, while seeking an independent state in Cyprus for 150,000 Turkish Cypriots, does not recognise the same right for 20 million Kurds," he charged.

On recent statements by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, who has repeated statements that Greece "harbours terrorism", Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the Turkish premier is accountable to the international community for the invasion of Cyprus in 1974. He also reminded that Greek public opinion supported democratic freedoms in Turkey when Mr. Ecevit himself was in Turkish strongman Kenan Evren's prisons, "evidently as a terrorist".

Addressing a meeting of retired army officers in Thessaloniki on Saturday, he had repeated his warning to the neighbouring state's leadership.

"We have given the assurance as a force for peace and stability in the region that we have no inclination and that we do not follow the slippery road of threats," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

"But we make clear our decisiveness and readiness to answer to any provocation, every threat in the necessary effective manner which is demanded by the need to protect peace, and the rights of the Greek people," he said.

Int'l gold for Greek sprinter Thanou

Greece's Katerina Thanou out-distances the USA's Gail Devers and a pack of sprinters to cross the finish line of the women's 60 metres competition yesterday at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Maebashi, Japan. Thanou won the gold with a time of 6.96 seconds, with Devers second.

Simitis: Effort by many to use Ocalan affair to overthrow gov't

Prime Minister Costas Simitis was quoted as stating over the weekend in a published interview that "there has been an effort by many to take advantage of the Ocalan affair in order to overthrow the government's policy, in order to possibly overthrow the government".

"They showed no regard for the impact of the climate they created on the course of the country, the course of the economy during this crucial moment", Mr. Simitis said in an interview with the Athens economic daily "Imerisia" on Saturday. He added that "they proved once more that they submit everything to petty-partisan interests, even the interest of the country itself.

The Greek PM also said the economy has been strengthened to such a degree that it "safeguards the Greek citizen's interests...The government has this guarantee and the further course forward as a primary target.

"Vacuums might exist. Maybe not as much has been done as one would like. Delays or weaknesses might have occurred. However, all that has been done over these years is not comparable with any other period in past decades," Mr. Simitis said.

Tsohatzopoulos says he's not a candidate for PASOK leadership

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos announced that he will not be a candidate for ruling PASOK's leadership at an upcoming party congress this month.

The Greek minister referred to the issue in two interviews over the weekend, one to a private television station and another published in a Sunday paper. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the PASOK leadership issue was solved at the ruling party's last congress some two years ago, while he also said Premier Costas Simitis has the "complete responsibility for leading the party into the next elections." He also stressed that the government will not be judged by the upcoming June Euro-elections, although the country's European course and PASOK's course will. In supporting his view, he said a 6 to 7 per cent decrease, which he called normal, in the ruling party's electoral strength from the last elections would be "acceptable."

G. Papandreou on Greek-Turkish relations

A military incident between Greece and Turkey would certainly be major and could lead to a confrontation between the two countries, even leading to war, Foreign Minister George Papandreou stressed in a press interview with a local paper.

In an interview with Cypriot daily "Phileleftheros", Mr. Papandreou expressed Athens' wish for peaceful relations with Turkey, stressing however, that they should be based on international law.

The Greek FM also dismissed attempts by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to link the Ocalan affair to the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish issues.

"Denktash is looking for excuses in order not to proceed in a substantive discussion for a solution to the Cyprus problem," Mr. Papandreou said, expressing a view that "these are not serious excuses and they are not viewed as such by the international community."

Daily publishes Greek ambassador's report on Osalan affair

The Saturday edition of an Athens daily featured the up-until- now classified report of the foremer Greek ambassador to Kenya, according to which the envoy had no prior notification about Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan's arrival in Nairobi last month.

According to a front-page lead article in "Ta Nea" allegedly based on ambassador Georgios Costoulas' report from Nairobi to his superiors in Athens, when Ocalan refused cooperation with Greek authorities, the chief of the Greek intelligence service at the time ordered that the PKK leader and his three associates be "thrown out" of the Greek mission's premises.

To that end, the Greek intelligence service dispatched a "soccer team" or a "theatrical group" - the code names used for the agents charged with the removal of Ocalan and his associates from the Nairobi embassy - the newspaper reported.

Foreign Minister George Papandreou, in a statement the same day, said that the report leaked to the press did not come from the official foreign ministry files, while he added that he had ordered an administrative investigation into the matter.

Mr. Papandreou also said he was in contact with political party leaders in order to personally convey to them the position and actions taken by his ministry on the issue, a press release stated.

The foreign minister, as he promised during Friday's Parliament debate, as well as during meetings he had with political party leaders last week, will submit Mr. Costoulas' report and anything else required to a Parliamentary investigating committee, the release added.

In a related development, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, who is currently on a visit to the United States, had a phone conversation with Mr. Papandreou yesterday, expressing displeasure over the leaking of the Costoulas report. According to an ANA dispatch from Washington, Mr. Karamanlis said ND intends to file a lawsuit against anyone responsible for the publication of the report.

Charges in press leak

An Athens court prosecutor yesterday filed charges against anyone involved in leaking the Costoulas report to an Athens daily.

A court-appointed prosecutor will conduct an inquiry into the exact circumstances of how "Ta Nea" was given or came to acquire the report.

Following the inquiry, any persons deemed to have acted illegally may face charges of leaking classified documents to the press, a felony offence.

Constantopoulos criticises gov't, leaking of ambassador's report

The Coalition of the Left and Progress' (Synaspismos) election proclamation for the upcoming June Euroelections was ratified by an overwhelming majority at the party's standing conference yesterday.

Concluding the conference's two-day session, Synaspismos leader Nikos Constantopoulos launched a new attack on the government, both over its handling and the political repercussions from the Ocalan case, as well as the leaking to certain press outlets of a classified report by the former Greek ambassador to Nairobi, Georgios Costoulas.

Mr. Constantopoulos said the government refused to confide the Costoulas report with party leaders and expressed the view that the report was leaked to the press in the framework of the intragovernment and intraparty conflict.

He said he was shocked by the irresponsibility and ease with which the report was published in the press, because such crucial problems become the object of conflict in the intraparty game.

Papariga calls for double elections in June

Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga again called for the resignation of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the simultaneous holding of Euroelections and national elections this June.

Ms Papariga, who was addressing a KKE gathering at Peace and Friendship indoor stadium last night, said KKE is making this proposal to "enable the Greek people to assume their responsibility at a time when Greece is being involved in the most crude way in the front line of interventions in the Balkans."

She also said that voters must "intervene" in an effort aimed at the "partitioning and Americanisation of the Aegean".

Church announces its intention to support large families

Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos yesterday underlined what he called the dangers of Greece's falling birth rate, saying it was the country's dominant problem.

The Holy Synod of the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece last week announced its intention to pay families having a third child a monthly benefit of 40,000 drachmas.

The programme will begin with the northeastern region of Thrace and may be extended to other areas.

Christodoulos said the Holy Synod had been forced into action by an announcement from the region's metropolitan which pointed out that of the 10 children born in the area over Christmas, seven were from the Moslem minority and three from the Orthodox.

"When I heard this, I was reminded of the words of Turkish president Turgut Ozal who had said; Don't worry, we won't go to war with Greece. In a few years' time, Thrace will be empty and they will be begging us to settle it', " the Archbishop stressed.

Christodoulos was speaking at a function held by large family associations in his honour. The Archbishop is one of eight siblings.

"You are the pillars of the nation and whoever can not understand this is an enemy of the nation," Christodoulos told participants.

He said that the demographic problem was Greece's leading issue. "Having many children is a blessing from God, you support the family, the nation and you deal with the nightmarish danger of the demographic decrease of our country," he said.

Stephanopoulos message on int'l day of women

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos addressed a message to all Greek women yesterday on the occasion of the "International Day of Women".

"The woman, as a mother, is the cornerstone of the family. But apart from motherhood, the woman's role is extended today to all sectors of human activity. It is something that the Greek woman is already achieving with her active participation in social and political life, sciences, arts and business performances," the message read.

"However, the most important thing is the conscience of equality which must be developed continuously to enable whichever distasteful phenomena still exist to disappear and which prevent the woman from fulfilling her role and her personality," it added.

Greek expatriates from ex-Soviet Union total 150,000

Greek expatriates from the former Soviet republics arriving in Greece after the collapse of the communist bloc total around 150,000.

A total of 21,000, namely 5,550 families, have been included in an organised housing programme by the National Foundation for Supporting and Settling Repatriated Greek Expatriates (EIYAPOE) in Thrace, while the remainder are either being assisted by expatriate Hellenism general secretariat programmes through the education and health ministries, or are relying only on their own means.

A conference was organised in Thessaloniki yesterday by the Panhellenic Federation of Black Sea Greeks Societies (POPS) on "the restoration of new refugees from the former USSR."

New Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis, who is responsible for government's expatriate Greeks policy, assured that procedures will be accelerated to promote a draft bill on those returning to the country and through which self-housing is encouraged .

Mr. Niotis said an additional 2.5 billion drachmas are required this year to enable EIYAPOE to complete its programme in Thrace.

Greek first division soccer results

AEK - AFI 2 - 0 Ionikos - Panathinaikos 4 - 4 PAOK - Ethnikos 0 - 0 Aris - Kavala 3 - 1 Apollon - Veria 2 - O E.Astir - Heraklis 1 - 0 Xanthi - Proodeftiki 4 - 1 Standings/points: Olympiakos 50, AEK 49, Panathinaikos 47, PAOK 43, Aris 39, Xanthi 38, Ionikos 36, OFI 32, Heraklis 30, E. Astir 29.

WEATHER

Local showers turning to brief rainstroms in most parts of the country and the islands today. Winds southerly, mild to moderate, turning northwesterly to strong. Athens will be sunny with scattered clouds and temperatures from 8-17. Overcast with possible rain in Thessaloniki and temperatures from 6- 14.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          294.416
Pound sterling       473.720
Japanese yen (100)   239.528
French franc          48.680
German mark          163.268
Italian lira (100)    16.492
Irish Punt           405.459
Belgian franc          7.916
Luxembourg franc       7.916
Finnish mark          53.707
Dutch guilder        144.903
Danish kr.            42.969
Austrian sch.         23.206
Spanish peseta         1.920
Swedish kr.           35.756
Norwegian kr.         37.220
Swiss franc          200.756
Port. Escudo           1.593
Aus. dollar          184.155
Can. dollar          193.420
Cyprus pound         549.925
Euro                 319.325
(C.E.)
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