Posts Tagged ‘ Greece ’

Greece says Syrian property law will impede refugees’ return

May 04, 2018

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Greece’s foreign minister has voiced concerns about at a new Syrian real estate law that would force refugees to return home if they want to keep their property in Syria. Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias says the law does not secure the properties of millions of Syrians who are now displaced outside the country. He says it will make their eventual return to Syria much more difficult.

The decree, made public last month, gives property owners in some parts of Syria one month to provide ownership deeds or face confiscation of their property. Thousands of Syrian refugees have sought asylum in Greece.

Kotzias spoke during a southern Balkans ministerial meeting Friday in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.

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Greek court releases American Gaza boat captain

July 05, 2011 — PIRAEUS, Greece (AP) — A Greek court on Tuesday released the American captain of a boat aiming to breach Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip, four days after arresting him for trying to set sail from Greece without permission.

John Klusmire, the captain of the Audacity of Hope, had attempted to leave a port near Piraeus Friday in defiance of a Greek ban on the flotilla of boats leaving port. He had been in custody since he was arrested, and appeared in court Tuesday handcuffed and under police escort. He still faces trial at a later date.

Greece has banned all boats participating in the Gaza flotilla from leaving port, citing security concerns after a similar flotilla last year was raided by Israeli forces, leaving nine activists on a Turkish boat dead. The Greek foreign ministry has offered to deliver the humanitarian aid the activists want to take to Gaza itself.

Israel says it imposed the blockade in 2007 to stop weapons reaching Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza. Israel eased its land blockade after an international uproar over last year’s raid on the Turkish boat.

Klusmire appeared in court in Piraeus for a two-hour deposition on a felony charge of endangering sea traffic and the lives of passengers, and misdemeanor counts of sailing without a permit and violating port authority orders.

“He has been released and is free to go home,” said one of his lawyers, Manolis Stephanakis, after the hearing. “No trial date has been set and we expect the charges to be dropped. We presented a very strong case and we don’t need to call any more witnesses to testify.”

Flotilla activists who had gathered at the court to show support burst into cheers of celebration. They initially believed Klusmire had been acquitted, but his lawyer later said he had been released while still facing charges.

The captain himself appeared relieved after his deposition, and was cheered on by 30 fellow activists chanting “We love John.” “This is a much better outcome than I anticipated,” he said. Earlier in the day, Greek officials and flotilla activists said three activists connected to another boat carrying mainly Canadians had been arrested over an attempt by that vessel, the Tahrir, to also set sail in defiance of the Greek ban.

David Heap, a spokesman for the Tahrir, identified those detained as Canadians Sandra Ruch and Soha Kneen, and Australian Michael Coleman. The boat tried to leave the southern Greek island of Crete on Monday, but was forced to turn back by Coast Guard vessels.

The Greek Merchant Marine Ministry said one of the Canadians, who was responsible for the boat, was arrested on charges of illegally sailing without permission. The other Canadian national and the Australian were arrested for using kayaks to block a coast guard vessel from setting sail to stop the flotilla boat.

Protesters also took action in the Greek capital, with a small group of activists from a Spanish-run boat entering the Spanish embassy in Athens and starting a sit-in, hanging a Palestinian flag from a balcony and demanding that Spain pressure Greece to let their boat sail.

Manuel Tapial, a spokesman for the Spanish vessel Gernika, said the protesters were peaceful. A statement from the organization in charge of the vessel, Rumbo a Gaza, said protesters were not interfering with the work of embassy staff.

One boat from the flotilla appeared to have evaded attempts to stop all vessels connected to the effort to breach the Israeli blockade. French pro-Palestinian activists said from Paris the Dignite-Al Karama was in international waters and on its way.

Jean-Claude Lefort, a spokesman for the group, told The Associated Press Tuesday that the boat left a port near Athens early Monday with eight activists and two crew members on board. If true, it would be the first flotilla boat to leave Greece.

However, the claim could not be confirmed. Greek authorities said they were looking into the report. Greek activist Dimitris Plionis said during a news conference in Athens that the boat had been in a “safe” area “in this part of the Mediterranean.” He said it was not sailing to Gaza at the moment, but was waiting for other boats from the flotilla to join it.

Christopher Torchia and Elena Becatoros in Athens, and Greg Keller in Paris contributed.

Greece arrests Gaza-bound boat captain

Sunday, July 3, 2011

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities have arrested the captain of a boat that is part of a Gaza-bound flotilla trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory, officials said.

The 60-year-old captain, John Klusmire, was being held at Piraeus police headquarters and will remain there until a court hearing Tuesday.

“The conditions of his detention are terrible,” vessel spokeswoman Jane Hirschmann told The Associated Press on Saturday. “There is no bed. He is sitting on a bench.” Police weren’t immediately available for comment.

Greece’s coast guard said Klusmire, captain of “The Audacity of Hope,” faces charges of trying to leave port without permission and of endangering the lives of the boat’s passengers. The latter charge is a felony.

The boat was carrying 36 passengers, four crew and about 10 members of the media. Its attempt to sail Friday night from the port of Perama, near Athens, was thwarted by coast guard speedboats. On the same day, Greece had announced it was banning vessels heading to Gaza from leaving Greek ports.

The “Audacity of Hope” has been moored at a Greek naval station. Its crew of four, two British and two American citizens, was forbidden to leave the boat. The British Embassy intervened and while they were then allowed to leave the boat, the crew and the passengers chose to stay on board, Hirschmann said.

“Where is the American embassy in all this?” she said, adding that U.S. authorities had not responded to passengers’ calls for assistance. The U.S. Embassy wasn’t immediately available for comment.

In Jerusalem, Israel has denied claims it sabotaged ships trying to breach its sea blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Activists have accused Israel of damaging two ships docked in Turkey and Greece that were part of a flotilla attempting to reach the Palestinian territory.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor dismissed the sabotage charges as “ridiculous,” calling them “sad conspiracy theories.”

Selcuk Unal, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said authorities had determined that there was no act of sabotage on an Irish vessel in the flotilla that docked in the Turkish port of Gocek on the Aegean Sea.

Israel says it imposed the blockade in 2007 to stop weapons reaching the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza. Activists describe the blockade as a form of incarceration for the Palestinians.

Nine activists on a Turkish boat were killed last year in an Israeli raid on a similar flotilla.

In a statement, the Middle East Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.S., U.N., EU and Russia — said it remained concerned about the difficult conditions facing Palestinians in Gaza, but noted “a marked increase in the range and scope of goods and materials” entering Gaza over the last year.

It urged those wishing to deliver goods to Gaza to do so through “established channels,” which include Israeli and Egyptian crossings.

The Quartet “urges restraint and calls on all Governments concerned to use their influence to discourage additional flotillas, which risk the safety of their participants and carry the potential for escalation,” the statement said.

Christopher Torchia in Athens, Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

Greece bars boats leaving Greek ports for Gaza

By ELENA BECATOROS | AP
Jul 1, 2011

ATHENS: Greece on Friday banned ships heading to the Gaza Strip from leaving Greek ports, and a vessel carrying several dozen Americans which left port without permission was asked to return.

A flotilla of nine Greek and foreign-flagged vessels and several hundred activists have said they want to break Israel’s sea blockade and deliver aid to the Palestinian territory.

Greece’s Civil Protection Ministry said coast guard authorities had been ordered to take “all appropriate measures” to implement the ban. It also said the “broader maritime area of the eastern Mediterranean will be continuously monitored by electronic means for tracking, where applicable, the movements of the ships allegedly participating” in the flotilla.

Witnesses said one of the boats, dubbed the Audacity of Freedom and carrying several dozen Americans, had left port Friday afternoon. Activists said on their Twitter feed that they had been intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard.

A Greek government official said the boat had set sail without the permission required of all boats to leave port, and that the Coast Guard had asked it to return. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the situation was still evolving.

Israel has said it will thwart any effort to breach the sea blockade of Gaza, which was imposed on the Palestinian territory after Hamas overran it in 2007.

An Israeli raid on a similar flotilla last year killed nine activists on a Turkish ship and each side blamed the other for the violence.

On Thursday, an Irish ship, the MV Saoirse at the Turkish coastal town of Gocek, said it had to abandon plans to set sail because of what it called Israeli sabotage. Earlier this week, activists said Israeli agents damaged the propeller of a Swedish ship in the Greek port. Israel has refused AP requests for comment on the allegations.

Source: Arab News.
Link: http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article465124.ece.

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