NEWS

Turks play terror card

Turkey appears to be making a concerted effort to exploit the international outrage at international terrorism by trying to tar Greece and Cyprus with the brush of being soft on terrorism. Ankara’s top military official, Gen. Huseyin Kivrikoglu on Monday tried to link Athens to terrorism by referring to the refugee camp at Lavrion, near the capital, as a terrorist camp. The camp, in fact, houses refugees under the jurisdiction of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Kivrikoglu also asked, Who were those who gave a passport to Ocalan and who offered him hospitality in their embassy. Who, then, are the terrorists? He was referring to Greece’s ill-fated attempt to find safe refuge for Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan after he fled Syria until he was caught by Turkish agents outside the Greek Embassy residence in Nairobi in early 1999. Kivrikoglu’s comments came a day after Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit’s warning to the European Union to reconsider its plans to have Cyprus become a member, claiming the country was a center for money laundering and anti-Turkish terrorism. Over the last three days, Turkish warplanes have also undertaken massive violations of Greek air space, during Greece’s Parmenion war games, the country’s largest annual military exercise. These acts from Turkey came just a few days after the Greek and Turkish defense ministers met in Brussels, where it appeared that progress had been made in negotiations for the adoption of confidence-building measures, and also contradicted urging by Washington for Athens and Ankara to work toward reducing tension because of the current international situation. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas rejected Kivrikoglu’s statements, attributing them to a wish to exploit the current crisis. This is a repeat of cliched accusations, Reppas said. He called on Kivrikoglu to seek further information from the UNHCR under whose auspices is the center at Lavrion. Defense Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos commented that: Some people are trying to reinvent the wheel. He stressed that Turkey’s military leaders have persisted with an antiquated outlook, doing themselves a disservice. The world’s development does not pass through regional conflict, Tsochadzopoulos said. The Parmenion exercise, involving army, naval and air force units, was completed successfully at the Lavaron area of Evros, near the Turkish border, yesterday. The navy’s new hovercraft and air force early-warning planes took part for the first time. President Costis Stephanopoulos watched the final phase of the war games yesterday along with Tsochadzopoulos. Talks on extending the opening hours of the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) ended inconclusively yesterday and will continue today. The solution most likely to gain the approval of all parties – including brokers and bank employees – is to change the opening hours from 10 a.m.-2.30 p.m. to 11 a.m.-4 p.m. local time until the year’s end and to 11 a.m.-5 p.m. in 2002. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, ASE temporarily shifted opening hours to 12-6 p.m. so that trading would coincide with Wall Street for an hour and a half. This extension, in effect until Friday, has helped make ASE less volatile.