On February 15, 1999, a black page was written in history. The Greek political system, and in particular the officials of the Simitis government, handed over without a fight, the Leader of the Kurdish People, Ocalan, to the Turkish fascist regime.
We asked Admiral Antonis Naxakis, one of the protagonists of the events of the time, to tell us about the case.
Mr. Naxakis, your book on the Ocalan case is entitled, "The Betrayal of an Ally". Was it really a betrayal and why? What was the benefit for the Simitis government at the time?
Dear friends from the magazine "Voice of the Kurds", thank you for the invitation. With great bitterness and shame as a Greek, I refer to this black page of modern Greek history which is the surrender of the PKK leader to his Turkish persecutors by the Simitis government. When Ocalan arrived at the Greek embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, the then-accompanying Major of the Greek Central Intelligence, Savvas Kalenteridis, was ordered by the Simitis government to throw him out of the embassy.
The order was clear and strict, "Savva throw him out of the embassy, if you do not do so, you will be court-martialed."
When Major Kalenteridis, honoring the uniform of the Greek officer, refused to carry out this traitorous order, he was insulted and threatened by members of the Simitis government, trade unionists of the Central Intelligence (PASK / EYP), as a failed officer and a foreign agent that had to be severely punished.
As for the benefit of the Simitis government for his traitorous action of Ocalan's betrayal, it was the same benefit that a junior employer receives when obeying his boss's orders, that is, nothing.
The foreign secret services played a decisive role in the betrayal of "Apo". Why; What were they afraid of?
During the time of Ocalan's betrayal, in 1999, the Kemalist secular establishment in Turkey had begun to crumble by the rise of the Islamic movement. Foreign forces pressed their subservient Greek government to hand over Apo to the Ecevit government, in order to strengthen the secular state.
This support for Kemalism failed and the Kemalist-fascist butchers of Koçgiri (1921), Piran şeyh Said (1925) and Dersim (1937) were replaced by Erdogan's Islamo-fascists, who continue their policy of persecuting the Kurds.
What is your message to the Greeks and especially to the young people, about the leader Ocalan, his end and the Kurdish Struggle?
The message to the Greeks and especially to our youth can be clearly given by Apo himself. In a speech to Greek lawmakers in Damascus in 1995, he stressed "as long as Greece appears to be weak, the Aegean and the islands will be claimed by the Turks", and ended his speech with a phrase that I can still hear as if I were by his side:
"We are fighting to free our homeland, you who have a free homeland already should be careful not to lose it."
This very phrase of Apo, so relevant today 26 years later, must be in the mind of every young Greek woman and every young Greek man.
What is your assessment of the future?
History has proven to be a cycle, a recurrence. No struggle for independence can be permanently stifled. This is shown to us by the example of Nelson Mandela who, after 27 years in prison, became president and the blacks of South Africa gained their freedom.
The Leader is not forgotten. He appears and then stays with his people. He is present in all Kurdish events both in Europe and inside Turkey, in the Turkish-occupied Kurdistan and throughout Mesopotamia. His ideology, spirit and vision support and strengthen the Kurdish national liberation struggle. I am certain that soon the joyous cry of "Bijî Serok Apo - Long live Leader Apo", will welcome Apo to the free capital of Kurdistan.