Archive for April 2007

Albanian paramilitarists emerge in Epirus

April 30, 2007

An Albanian paramilitary group calling itself
Liberation Army of Chameria (OVC) has emerged in
northern Greece, the Albanian-language web site said.
Along with the news on OVC’s appearance, the web site
shows video footage of Albanian television channel
News 24.

Just a few days ago, the mayor of Albania’s
municipality of Himara, predominated by an ethnic
Greek minority, called for the formation of an
autonomous Epirus.

Greek media called on the government in Tirana to
condemn the video footage and to seek more information
and data from its Yahoo address on the country where
the footage was originally published.

So far, there is no information as to the political
force or party standing behind OVC.
Source: MakFax, 30/04


Update on Turkish-Kurdish relations

April 30, 2007

April 18, 2007: The PKK threatened to officially end the  “on and off ceasefire” they have with Turkey. Meanwhile,  Turkey is conducting a “counter-guerrilla” sweep in southeastern Turkey and there apparently Turkish forces near the Iraq-Turkey border. Despite all this,  a full-scale attack on PKK positions in northern Iraq (the invasion scenario) remains unlikely. The Turkish parliament must authorize military operations outside of Turkish territory. However, special forces raids and a multi-brigade operation (the incursion scenario) are still in the cards. The “incursion scenario” could involve up to five or six brigades of troops (perhaps 25,000 to 30,000 soldiers). Given the political sensitivities, a smaller force package is more likely. What would an incursion look like? Mechanized infantry supported by tanks and aircraft would seize villages and occupy more open terrain, mountain infantry units supported by helicopters (and some light armor) would take up blocking positions and conduct search operations in rough terrain. Special forces would be very active, gathering intelligence and preparing ambush positions along mountains trails used by the  PKK.
April 16, 2007: Turkey reported that its troops killed 12 PKK rebels in a series of firefights in southeastern Turkey. One Turkish soldier was killed.

April 13, 2007: Turkey’s senior military officer, Chief of General Staff, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, said that the Turkish military wants the Turkish government to give it “permission” to attack PKK bases in northern Iraq. The public statement by a senior officer sends Iraq another clear political signal that Turkey expects the Iraqi government to act against the PKK. The Turkish military wants the Iraqis to strike several targets but PKK bases in the Kandil Mountains are a major concern. The Turkish military believes that the PKK intends to “accelerate its operations” in May. That’s one reason Turkey has launched a series of major counter-guerrilla sweep operations in southeastern Turkey.

April 12, 2007: Iraq’s President, a Kurd,  apologized to Turkey for statements by Iraqi Kurdish leaders that they would “fan unrest” among Turkish Kurds if Turkey opposed Iraqi Kurdish claims to the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. President Talabani insisted  that Iraq values its relationship with Turkey. A few days earlier, the Turkish government said that Iraqi Kurds could pay a “heavy cost” for threatening Turkey. Turkey wants to protect the Iraqi Turkoman (ethnic Turk) population in Kirkuk. The US is trying keep Turkey from launching a military incursion into northern Iraq.

April 10, 2007: Turkish troops killed four PKK rebels in firefights that took place in Bingol and Tunceli provinces.

April 9, 2007: — Ten Turkish soldiers had been killed in recent operations against the PKK in southeastern Turkey. Seven PKK fighters were killed in operations on April 7 and 8. Three more were killed on April 9.

April 6, 2007:  The Turks launched a counter-PKK offensive with at least 10,000 troops and paramilitary security police. The operation was described as a “spring sweep” of PKK infiltration routes. As the snows melt, the PKK rebels usually attempt to enter Turkey from Iraq or move from mountain camps to bases nearer cities.

The Turkish government sentenced eight members of the Democratic Society Party (DTP, a predominantly Kurd party) to three years and nine months in prison. The men were convicted of “aiding PKK rebels.”

Source: Strategy Page

Biography of the Commander of Greek Armed Forces

April 28, 2007

Admiral Panagiotis Chinofotis a native of Athens , Greece , was born in 1949, Aug 12 and graduated from the Hellenic Naval Academy , Piraeus and commissioned as Ensign of the Hellenic Navy in July 1971.

In 1989 he graduated from the US Naval War College/NCC and at the same year he earned a Master of Arts (MA) Degree in International Relations from Salve Regina University , Newport, Rhode Island, USA .

In July 1988 he was made an honorary freeman of Newport , Rhode Island , USA.
He has served at sea duty, for a total of 22 years, mostly aboard Destroyers, Frigates and FPBG’s. Also, Admiral P. Chinofotis has served ashore attending the Hellenic Naval War College , where he graduated with “High Distinction” in 1986.

Then, on promotion to Commander undertook the positions of Head of the Hellenic Navy General Staff (HNGS) section of the NATO and National Exercises and Operational Training. Subsequently, he attended the US Naval War College, where he graduated from the Naval Command College (NCC), in 1989.

Then, he assumed duties at the Hellenic Naval War College , as the Director of studies, for a period of two years. From July 1991 to July 1993 he assumed Command of the CINCHELFLEET Flagship HS LEMNOS, a FFGH.

In August 1993, at the rank of Captain HN, he was assigned to the Hellenic Military Representative of NATO in Brussels for a tour of two years and then he reported to the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (HNDGS), as Assistant Director of the Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate.

In April 1996, he assumed command of the 1 st Division of Hellenic Destroyers and Frigates until August 1997. He was then appointed as Deputy Military Representative of Greece in the Western European Union (WEU) in Brussels and in parallel he assumed the duties of Chairman in the Military Representatives Working Group during the Greek Presidency of WEU.

In March 1998, he was promoted to flag rank as Commodore and in September 1998 reported to the Hellenic Fleet Command as Deputy Chief of Staff.

In March 1999, as Commodore he assumed the Command of the Hellenic Destroyers and Frigates and became the Flag Officer of Destroyers and Frigates in the Hellenic Fleet until March 2001 when he was appointed to the post of the Director of A/ Division at the HNGS (Policy,Plans, Ops, and Comms).

In March 2002 he was promoted to Rear Admiral and was assigned at HNDGS as Director of D’ Division (Policy, International Relations, Defense Planning and Doctrines).

On 26 March 2004 he was assigned the duties of the Chief of the Hellenic Fleet.(CINCHELFLEET)

On 16 February 2005 he was promoted to Admiral and assigned the duties of Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff  (HNDGS).

Admiral P.Chinofotis awards and decorations include the Knight Gold Cross of the Order of Honour, Knight Gold Cross of the Order of Phoenix , Medal of Military Merit, Commendation Medal of Merit and Honour, Navy Force Formation Command Medal, Navy Force Meritorious Command Medal and the Staff Officer Service Commendation Medal.

On 12 September 2006, the Community of Gavdos confered him the title of “Honorary Citizen of Gavdos Island”.

He is married to Maria Chinofoti.
Source: Greek National Defense General Staff Website

Biography of the Commander of Turkish Armed Forces

April 28, 2007


General Yaşar BÜYÜKANIT, the 25th Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces, was born in İstanbul in 1940. He graduated from the Military Academy in 1961 as an infantry officer. After Graduating from the Infantry School in 1963, he served in different units of the Land Forces as Platoon and Commando Company Commander until 1970.

Following his graduation from the Army Staff College in 1972, he served as the Chief of Operations at 6th Infantry Division, as an instructor at Army Staff College, as Intelligence Division Basic Intelligence Branch Forces and Systems Section Chief at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons/Belgium, as the Section and then Branch Chief of General-Admiral Branch at Turkish General Staff (TGS) Headquarters, as the Commander of Kuleli Military High School and of the Presidential Guard Regiment.

After graduating from NATO Defence College, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in 1988. He served as the 2nd Armored Brigade Commander and then as the Chief of Intelligence Department at AFSOUTH HQs in Naples, Italy.

Having been promoted to rank of Major General in 1992, General BÜYÜKANIT served as the Secretary General of Turkish General Staff and then as the Superintendent of the Turkish Army Academy. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General in 1996 and served as the 7th Army Corps Commander till 1998, after which he became the Chief of Operations of the TGS.

In 2000, he was promoted to the rank of General and served as the Deputy Chief of TGS till 2003. Then he served as the Commander of the First Army. General BÜYÜKANIT was appointed as the Commander of the Land Forces in 2004. He assumed the Command of the Turkish Armed Forces in 30 August 2006.

His decorations include, Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) Medal of Distinguished Service, TAF Medal of Distinguished Courage and Self-Sacrifice, TAF Medal of Honor, Italian Medal of Honor, USA Legion of Merit and Pakistani Nishan-ı Imtiaz.

He is married to Mrs. Filiz BÜYÜKANIT and they have a daughter. General BÜYÜKANIT speaks English as a foreign language.
Source: Turkish General Staff Website

Greek-Romania economic ties

April 28, 2007

Trade Balance Greece-Romania, 2006 (in Million Euro)

Greek exports increased by 45.7%, to 595.82 million Euro compared with 408.86 million Euro in 2005. Romanian exports to Greece increased by 16.3%, from 434.27 million Euro to 505.26 million Euro. Trade volume increased by 30.6% from 843.13 million Euro in 2005 to1.10 billion Euro in 2006.

During 2006 Romania absorbed 3.6% of total Greek exports, ranking 10th among the most significant markets for Greek products.

Product groups of Greek exports to Romania exceeding 2%:

Automobile vehicles, totalling 43.51 million Euro at 7.3%

Aluminium, totalling 42.50 million Euro at 7.1%

Telecommunications equipment totalling 41.49 million Euro at 7%

Iron construction, totaling 32.49 million Euro at 5.4%

Copper, totalling 25.56 million Euro at 4.3%

Fruit , totalling 22.54 million Euro at 3.8%

Plastic slabs and strips, totaling 21.83 million Euro at 3.7%

Petroleum oils and asphalt minerals, totaling 79million Euro at 2.8%

Stones, sand and gravel, totalling14.66 million Euro at 2.5%

Perfume and cosmetic products, totaling 13.62 million Euro at 2.3%
Product imports from Romania exceeding 2%:
Petroleum oils and asphalt minerals, totalling 91.02 million EURO, at 18.01%

Iron and steel scraps,, totalling 44.14 million Euro, at 8.74%

Aluminium, totalling 38.9 million Euro at 7.7%

Electric energy, totalling 35.33 million Euro at 7%

Iron or steel rolling products, totalling 28.63 million Euro at 5.67%

Processed wood, totalling 27.27 million Euro at 5.4%

Electricity distribution material, totalling 22.53 million Euro at 4.46%

Livestock, totalling 19.36 million Euro at 3.83%

Machinery parts and equipment, totalling 17.20 million Euro at 3.41%

Handiworks for investments, totalling 15.46 million Euro at 3.06%

Telecommunications equipment, totalling 15.21 million Euro at 3.01%

Electric production equipment , totalling 10.29 million Euro at 2.04%
Greek Investment in Romania
According to data from the Romanian Commercial Registry, Romanian businesses with the participation of foreigners in their share capital were 119,120 at the end of 2005 and the accumulative value of foreign investments in Romania totaled 15.3 billion Euro, with a total of 131,943 registered businesses.

Greek capital invested in Romania exceeds 3 billion Euro (stock – 31/12/05) placing the country among the first three foreign investors. The largest Greek investments in the Balkans have taken place in Romania. On a global scale, Romania is one of the most significant receivers of Greek investment capital and Greek investments are aimed mainly at services, ( 31.4%, primarily telecommunications), manufacturing (27.7%), wholesale trade (23.3%) retail trade (3.5%), construction (7.5%) and agriculture (4.2%).
Note: Currently -04/2007- Greek inverstments in Romania are calculated over 4 billion Euros. Trade volume to reach 1.4 billion Euros for 2007.


Greek National Statistics Service

Polish – Greek economic ties

April 27, 2007

The last three years were extremely good for Polish foreign trade. Export revenues in 2004, according to official data, reached 73 781,2 million EUR, and were higher by 37,7 % compared to 2003. The import expenses rose by 29,6 % and reached the total amount of 88 156,4 million EUR. As a result of slower growth of import and the increase of export, the trade deficit went down.

The commodities exchange with the countries of the European Union is of decisive importance for the overall results of foreign trade (79,1 % in export and 68,2 % in import). Germany is the most important partner in commodities exchange from among the countries of the EU, and at the same time Poland’s largest business partner.

The main Polish export products are: electromechanical products, products of the metallurgy industry, fabrics and textile products, food and agriculture products, furniture and lightning articles, mineral products, timber and wooden products, wood pulp, paper and cardboard, products made of stone, ceramics and glass, footwear and other.

For the last three successive years the trade between Poland and Greece has developed very dynamically, especially during the years 2001 and 2002 when the result in trade between the two countries rose by 51,5%. In the year 2004 the turnover amounted to 336,8 million EUR.

As regards the trade balance, Greece achieved a slight surplus in exports in 2001. Mutual trade was perfectly balanced in 2002 and in 2003 as well as 2004 the Polish side reached a slight surplus. According to Polish data, exports to Greece amounted to 174,3 million EUR in 2004, and imports from Greece –162,6 million EUR. Thus, in the field of bilateral trade the cooperation between our countries must be estimated as a harmonious and steadily developing one.

The structure of trade proves that our economies are complementary to each other, which exerts a positive impact on the volume of bilateral trade turnover together with the improvement of the trade balance.

The main categories of Polish exports to Greece include means of transportation, receiving equipment for television , cars, tires, washing machines, tableware and kitchenware, wooden products including furniture.

Farm products are, without doubt, the leaders of Greek exports to Poland but a dynamic increase of imports from Greece of such products as electric appliances, aluminum foil and products, cotton fabrics and yarns, semi-finished plastic products is observed.

According to the data of Polish Information & Foreign Investment Agency, direct Greek investments in Poland have achieved 556.5 million USD. However, it should be stressed that the Agency records only bigger investments, i.e. exceeding 1 million USD. So, the statistics of that agency do not include minor Greek investments, which are nevertheless very significant both for the Polish economy and for the further strengthening of economic ties between Poland and Greece. Thus, many smaller firms of partial or total Greek capital run business in Poland. They operate in textiles, production of denim fabrics, imports of Greek marbles and granites, agricultural and food articles (mainly fruit), shipping, production of beverages, import of office furniture, production of cement, tourist services, transport services etc. Apart from the biggest Greek investor in the Polish market which is Coca –Cola Hellenic Bottling Co. (0,5 billion USD) it is worth to mention such significant Greek firms as: Maillis, Sarantis, Germanos or Quality &Reliability.

Greek companies are welcome to invest in Poland, especially in shipping industry, defence, construction and tourism (hotels). Greek capital may participate in the privatization of Polish state-owned enterprises and help us with the process of restructuring of Polish economy. Polish-Greek projects can be implemented with the use of the EU funds.

Source: Embassy of Poland-Greece-

KISSINGER, PRIMAKOV to head USA-Russia working group

April 26, 2007

Russia and the United States are forming a working group that will focus on the future of bilateral relations and will be co-chaired by a former Russian premier and an ex-U.S. secretary of state.

President Vladimir Putin met with the co-chairmen, Yevgeny Primakov and Henry Kissinger, in Moscow Thursday and welcomed the idea.

“I have supported the Russian-American initiative to set up the working group …, which will unite famous and respected politicians and public figures of both countries,” Putin said.

Primakov, who also heads the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the group would gather for its first meeting in early July in Moscow. “The results of debates will be reported to the leaderships of both countries,” said Primakov, Russia’s prime minister from September 1998 to May 1999.

Kissinger, who is also head of his own international consultancy, said President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had approved the idea, and called on the international community to treat Russia as an equal partner, which, he said, is what Putin is trying to attain.

Kissinger, U.S. secretary of state from 1973 to 1977, has been a frequent guest in Russia since Putin took office in 2000.

Source: RIA Novosti