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Antenna: News in English (PM), 99-02-19

Antenna News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Antenna Radio <> - email:


  • [01] Cabinet meeting
  • [02] Karamanlis
  • [03] Patriots
  • [04] OTE-Romania

  • [01] Cabinet meeting

    Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis is embarking on a European campaign to ensure that Turkey respects the rights of Abudullah Ocalan, the Kurdish leader abducted from Kenya Monday.

    Now in a Turkish prison, Ocalan is to be tried on terrorist-related charges, and could face the death penalty.

    Simitis said after the first meeting of his new cabinet Friday it's important the EU does what it can to ensure he gets a fair trial.

    It was a sombre first day for the revamped cabinet. After taking their oath of office before orthodox archbishop of Greece Christodoulos and the president, the new cabinet convened under the prime minister.

    Significantly, the first thing Kostas Simitis announced was that he was requesting the resignation of the head of Greece's intelligence service - that resignation was tendered.

    The prime minister cannot easily put the events of the week behind his government - what he's trying to do is limit the damage, and set the government on its feet again.

    The key new ministers are Giorgos Papandreou, who took over the foreign ministry from Theodoros Pangalos; Vaso Papandreou, who replaced Alekos Papadopoulos as interior minister, which is responsible for the secret service; and Michalis Chrysochoides, who took over the public order portfolio from Fillipos Petsalnikos.

    Papandreou says her priority will be a radical reorganisation of the intelligence service, which failed to arrest Ocalan as soon as he landed in Greece at the end of January.

    Papandreou also says she intends to see full light shed on the Ocalan affair.

    The handover of the foreign ministry from Theodoros Pangalos to erstwhile alternate minister Giorgos Papandreou attracted the most attention, because Papandreou had indirectly called for Pangalos to resign when the full dimensions of the Ocalan affair became known.

    Pangalos, who found himself at the centre of the Ocalan storm, advised Papandreou to beware of the hazards of the post.

    After his cabinet was sworn in, Simitis said he shares the feelings of bitterness of the Greek people over the Ocalan affair. The prime minister has been assailed from within his party that the government was responsible for Ocalan's arrest. But the prime minister said Greece had fulfilled its moral and humanitarian obligations to the full.

    Simitis also lambasted Greece's European Union partners for washing its hands of Ocalan during the months when he was on the run, seeking, but not finding, asylum.

    The EU, said the Greek leader, left Greece to deal with the matter.

    Simitis has already talked to the French and German leaders about initiatives the EU can take to ensure that Ocalan is not mistreated and gets a fair trial.

    Greek president Kostis Stephanopoulos has sent a letter to EU leaders and the American and Russian president asking the same.

    Questions about the circumstances of Ocalan's abduction remain. On Friday, Simitis categorically denied Greece was in any way involved in giving him up to the Turks.

    "Mistakes were made", said the Greek leader, referring to the rumours and speculation about possible Greek complicity in the kidnapping. "We have taken responsibility for our mistakes", added Simitis. "There's no point adopting every single theory we hear and ignore the clear explanation given by the government".

    [02] Karamanlis

    The leader of Greece's main opposition party renewed his call for the prime minister to resign Friday.

    Kostas Karamanlis said the problems created by the Ocalan affair can't be dealt with just by the resignation of three key ministers.

    Karamanlis called the cabinet reshuffle "shadow theatre".

    New Democracy spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos criticised the prime minister for saying he's satisfied with his government's performance given what's happened.

    [03] Patriots

    The Greek defence ministry has signed an agreement to buy four Patriot missile batteries from their American manufacturer.

    The weapons will cost in excess of 920 million dollars.

    In addition to the purchase already agreed too, Greece intends to buy a further two batteries.

    The first missiles will arrive in September, 2001, and all four systems should be in place and operational by May of the following year.

    Under the terms of the agreement, a number of the parts of the Patriot systems will be manufactured by Greek companies, like intracom, which will produce all the electronic systems.

    [04] OTE-Romania

    With over one million Romanians waiting for a telephone line, Greece's recent investment in the national telecommunications network is a godsend.

    Greek telecom, or OTE, has a big challenge before it in Romania: not only is there a large demand for phones in urban areas; OTE also has to penetrate into rural areas where there are no phone lines at all.

    OTE, headquartered in Athens, acquired management control of the Romanian- Greek joint venture late last year. The Greek firm will invest 2.7 billion in the next five years in fixed assets and a further 400 to 500 million in other investments.

    Its priorities include transforming Romania's network into a digital system, strengthening the rural telephone network, improving existing lines and introducing new services.

    Only four million of Romania's 23 million inhabitants have a telephone and most of them can only dial domestically. There are more than one million people waiting for a line - and they sometimes have to wait years.

    Calling the new deal a strategic investment, OTE recently paid dlrs 675 million to buy a 35 percent stake of Romania's national telecommunications' company.

    (c) ANT1 Radio 1999

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