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A.N.A. Bulletin, 24/08/96

From: "Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada" <>

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 971), August 24, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address:


  • [1] Greece enters election countdown after Parliament dissolution

  • [2] Opposition remarks

  • [3] Opposition to Simitis-Evert only debate

  • [4] Finance ministry denies reports of budget overspending

  • [5] Greek legal experts in Cyprus for meetings on recent events

  • [6] Court throws out lawsuit by Tierry Roussel against Onassis Foundation

  • [7] Pushkin museum head pledges Priam's treasure to go on show in Greece

  • [1] Greece enters election countdown after Parliament dissolution

    Athens, 24/08/1996 (ANA)

    The country yesterday entered a pre-election period after President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos signed a decree dissolving Parliament, launching parties' political campaigns for the Sept. 22 general elections.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos also signed a decree for the reconvening of Parliament for its first regular post-election session on Oct. 7.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis had called on the president earlier in the day to ask for the dissolution of Parliament and a proclamation of early general elections.

    A two-hour Cabinet meeting Thursday night chaired by Mr. Simitis unanimously decided that the PASOK government should seek a renewal of its mandate, more than a year ahead of the expiration of its current term in office.

    Before entering his meeting with the President Stephanopoulos, Mr. Simitis told reporters that the government would need the popular mandate in order to take the "decisions necessary for the country to move forward."

    "Greece cannot wait. The future cannot wait," he said.

    The premier presented Mr. Stephanopoulos with the unanimous Cabinet decision containing the detailed reasons why the PASOK government believes early general elections are necessary.

    Asked by the president whether the time until Sept. 22 was adequate, Mr. Simitis replied that a long pre-election period would be detrimental to the country.

    Mr. Simitis explained that the government must face the challenge of the European Union, take initiatives in the Balkans to confront threats from Turkey, as well as modernize the economy.

    "Consequently, the popular mandate is necessary for the necessary decisions to be taken and so that the new government will have the authorization to take the decisions that are useful for the country," Mr. Simitis said.

    After the meeting with the president, Mr. Simitis chaired a joint meeting of the ruling PASOK party's central committee and Parliamentary group.

    Addressing the meeting, Mr. Simitis spoke of "a new historic period" which was beginning, in which PASOK was called upon to play the most important role.

    Stressing the need for a long-term government, he said the people called for boldness, decisiveness, clear proposals and an end to uncertainties.

    "PASOK has shown that it can respond with consistency, cohesion and effectiveness to the expectations of the Greek people, unlike other parties which are unable to articulate a modern political dialogue," the prime minister said, calling upon Greek voters to open the way for "a creative Greece," leaving behind the forces of an old party system, party favoritism, and lack of meritocracy.

    Mr. Simitis strongly criticized main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Miltiades Evert, accusing him of touring the provinces and handing out empty promises. He also likened Mr. Evert's tactics to "the old party system of the '60s", saying that this insulted the intelligence of the Greek people.

    "We are not promising handouts. Let Mr. Evert remain alone on the slippery road which he has chosen," Mr. Simitis said.

    The premier said that the main opposition leader was "playing his last card, because on Sept. 23, not only will he not be prime minister, he won't even be leader of New Democracy."

    [2] Opposition remarks

    Athens, 24/08/1996 (ANA)

    In a press conference yesterday, ND leader Miltiades Evert launched a stinging attack against the prime minister, accusing him of superficiality, wishful thinking and an attempt to deceive the people.

    Replying to the prime minister's arguments for calling an early poll, Mr. Evert said he felt vindicated, because Mr. Simitis "was drawn to New Democracy's position for early elections" by the economic impasse his government was responsible for.

    He criticized the premier of having undertaken no initiatives to avert Turkish provocativenes, referred to successive mistakes in the government's policy towards Turkey and to inability in formulating strategy.

    He said if the country was forced to follow Turkey in the arms race the situation would reach a deadlock, but in reply to a question, he added that if his government had to resort to internal borrowing for the armed forces, it would do it.

    Regarding the FYROM name issue, he said the government's acceptance of a composite name was a tactical error, resulting in Skopje adopting extreme positions.

    The opposition leader also criticized the prime minister for accepting what he said was a "two-speed Europe", adding that in order to attain a level of 80 per cent of other European countries' income, Greece would need an average annual GDP growth of 4 per cent for 25 years.

    Questioned whether he thinks foreign powers support the prime minister, he said, "I cannot be categorical, the government has shown signs of making concessions, but there is no 'line' for Mr. Simitis to be elected. Besides, whatever the 'foreign factor' says, the Greek people know how to choose."

    In addition, Mr. Evert accused the premier of having no specific proposals for the country's economic development, and said the government's inertia had caused a loss of 1.6 trillion drachmas in available European Union funds.

    "The champion (in losses) was the industry ministry under Mr. Simitis," he said.

    "Will he now do as prime minister what he did not do as minister?," he asked.

    He said that if elected he will ask the Greek people for one sacrifice, "to roll the sleeves up and produce work," adding that he "will hit hard on the slackers who survive to the detriment of the Greek citizen".

    He said the country needed development and investment, and committed himself that he will not make promises about wage increases.

    He added that inflation was at the same levels as in 1993, and that support should be given to the agricultural sector in order to reduce production costs and increase the competitiveness of agricultural produce.

    Questioned on the role of undesirable interwoven interests, Mr. Evert said a prime minister should neither clash with citizens nor allow them to move as they do.

    "I will call them to my office and tell them an ideological principle of New Democracy expressed by Constantine Karamanlis: We recognize the role of private enterprise and capital, but we do not give them political power," he said.

    Mr. Evert announced he will be a candidate in Thessaloniki and in the border prefecture of Evros. He added that former prime minister and ND honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis will undertake "the role that befits him", without, however, clarifying what this role might be.

    The ND leader said his party will be "united as a fist", and added that although there are varying opinions within ND, there are no concerns over the party's unity.

    Commenting on the prime minister's statements that by the next elections, Mr. Evert will no longer be the leader of New Democracy, he said "I hope (Mr. Simitis) remains in his position. Malice and pettiness do not befit leaders."

    Replying to a question as to whether he is concerned over the prime minister's high popularity, he said that similar polls appeared when he was running for Athens mayor in 1985, but said that he continued his tactics, which resulted in New Democracy winning the municipality of Athens with 54 per cent.

    ND's political council is due to convene this morning, with the participation of Constantine Mitsotakis, in order to determine the final details of the party's pre-election campaign.

    Meanwhile, ND Vice-President Ioannis Varvitsiotis lashed out against the prime minister, accusing him of "untrustworthiness, inability and inertia."

    Mr. Varvitsiotis said Mr. Simitis' decision to hold snap elections shows his "untrustworthiness, since all the reasons cited to justify his decision also applied during the times he had been asserting that PASOK would exhaust the entire four-year mandate."

    Circles close to former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis said yesterday that he had not been asked to do anything with regard to the pre-election campaign, but "he will help New Democracy with all his powers during the election campaign."

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said that the elections would be held on the basis of the last census in 1991.

    This, he added, would result in reductions or increases in the number of Parliamentary seats allocated for 13 electoral constituencies.

    For the first time, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos stressed, the elections would be held within the framework of new legislation which was voted by all parties in Parliament.

    Restrictions will apply on parties' and individual candidates' election expenditures and on the way they wage their election campaigns, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said, adding that detailed information on spending would be made public after the elections.

    The principal body for overseeing the holding of the elections, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos noted, was the inter-party elections committee, which is formed three days after the proclamation of elections at the latest.

    Similar committees are also formed in each of the country's prefectures, under the supervision of the locally elected prefect.

    For the first time also, a set of rules will apply with respect to parties' election campaigns on private and state-controlled mass media.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos estimated that the cost of the elections would amount to 14 billion drachmas. State funding for the parties will amount to 1.01 billion drachmas for PASOK, 900 million drachmas for New Democracy, 111 million drachmas for Political Spring, 109 million drachmas for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and 67 million drachmas for the Coalition of the Left and Progress.

    Outlining the aims and strategy of PASOK's election campaign, PASOK central committee Secretary Costas Skandalidis called for unity and integrity.

    Addressing yesterday's special joint meeting of the ruling party's central Committee and Parliamentary group, Mr. Skandalidis said the party's campaign would be "flexible, based on clear goals and policies and integrated orientation."

    Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras yesterday attacked the ruling PASOK and the main opposition New Democracy parties during the launch of his party's pre-election campaign.

    Mr. Samaras accused both parties of "staging conflicts" and of "playing a rigged game.

    "In these elections, Greeks will decide with their vote whether or not they will co-sign the decisive burial of our national issues - the Aegean, Cyprus, Macedonia, Thrace. Whether with their vote they will extend the inhuman austerity, which makes a few people fill their pockets and makes many suffer," he added.

    "In these elections, the great question is not which one of the two players in the well-known staged conflict between Mr. Simitis and Mr. Evert will better serve the orders of the bosses of the sidelines. The question is whether proud Greeks will subjugate themselves to the decisions of foreign and economic centers of interest, or whether they will resist," he added.

    Mr. Samaras stressed that his party is open to all Greeks, regardless of which political party they have supported in the past, "because to us, these simple Greeks are the backbone and the hope for our country."

    The Political Spring leader also criticized what he called "staged" televised political discussions, where he said only members of the two major parties, PASOK and New Democracy, are invited.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said elections should open up the prospect for "clear solutions for the people, and not for the capital, the European Union, NATO and the United States."

    "Mr. Simitis is calling upon the Greek people for a confidence vote allegedly to be able to negotiate a better position for our country and respond to the challenges of the year 2000," the announcement said, adding that "the Greek people know very well how PASOK has 'negotiated' the confidence vote that it had received in 1981, 1985 and 1993."

    Coalition of the Left and Progress party leader Nikos Constantopoulos also criticized both PASOK and ND, saying that "before the pre-election period has got underway and without clarification yet of the terms under which the elections will be held, they have begun to beat the drums of party bi-polarity."

    Mr. Constantopoulos called on the government to immediately appoint caretaker ministers and to announce its proposals for the terms under which political dialogue can take place between the parties.

    He also invited Mr. Simitis to a television debate "on the true problems and the policies needed by the country." Mr. Constantopoulos extended the same invitation to all other political leaders.

    He said his party will "emphatically oppose all efforts to trap the pre-election period in party clashes and exhibitions of autocracy and unequal handling of parties."

    Finally, the political secretariat of the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI), led by former PASOK finance minister Dimitris Tsovolas convened yesterday and finalized its election campaign

    recommendations to the party's central political committee, scheduled to convene tomorrow.

    [3] Opposition to Simitis-Evert only debate

    Athens, 24/08/1996 (ANA)

    In a related issue, reports that Mr. Simitis and Mr. Evert will hold a televised debate provoked an angered response from KKE and the Coalition.

    Both parties have said they believe that the exclusion of other parties in the debate will be damaging to them, adding that they fear they will lose votes as a result.

    According to sources, both parties are expected to exert pressure on the government through an inter-party committee for the media in order for the leaders of other parties to be included in the debate.

    KKE's central committee will convene tomorrow in order to discuss its election declaration, which will be presented during a press conference by party leader Aleka Papariga on Monday.

    [4] Finance ministry denies reports of budget overspending

    Athens, 24/08/1996 (ANA)

    The finance ministry said yesterday that for the first time in three years there was a decrease in budget expenses instead of an increase relative to targets.

    The announcement was made in reply to a report in the economic weekly magazine "Oikonomikos Tahydromos" Thursday that there has been a 682 billion drachmas overshoot in budget expenditures this year.

    It added that the New Democracy party had made haste to build a whole nexus of lies and confusing allegations based on the magazine's claim to suit its pre-election needs.

    The statement said that regarding primary results, the execution of the budget was proceeding on target, with respect to both revenues and expenses. It added that unscheduled expenses totaling 307 billion drachmas concerned renewals of old loans obtained from the previous New Democracy government and to cover losses incurred as a result of the rescheduling of overdue social security contributions, saying it did not represent budget expenses.

    Finally, the finance ministry statement stresses that the explosive rise in stock prices in a pre-election period denotes the market's confidence in the ruling party.

    [5] Greek legal experts in Cyprus for meetings on recent events

    Athens, 24/08/1996 (ANA)

    A Greek lawyers delegation headed by Athens Bar Association President Antonis Roubakiotis is due to arrive in Cyprus today for meetings with the President Glafcos Clerides, Archbishop Chrysostomos, political leaders, the attorney general and representatives of their Cypriot colleagues.

    The meetings will examine a series of legal actions responding to recent incidents in Cyprus during which two Greek Cypriot demonstrators were killed by Turkish occupation forces and a mob.

    [6] Court throws out lawsuit by Tierry Roussel against Onassis Foundation

    Athens, 24/08/1996 (ANA)

    An Athens misdemeanors court yesterday threw out a lawsuit brought against the board of governors of the Onassis Foundation, currently handling the inheritance of Athina Onassis since the death of her mother Christina several years ago, by her father Tierry Roussel.

    Mr. Roussel has accused the foundation's administration of breach of faith.

    An application to expel Mr. Roussel from meetings of the foundation's board of governors was made on June 13 by foundation president Stelios Papadimitriou, along with the foundation's vice presidents and secretary general.

    [7] Pushkin museum head pledges Priam's treasure to go on show in Greece

    Athens, 24/08/1996 (ANA)

    The treasures of the King Priam of Troy, unearthed last century by the renowned German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, will be exhibited in Greece as soon as all existing legal problems are resolved, curator of the Pushkin Museum Irina Antonova, reiterated yesterday during a meeting with Greek Culture Minister Stavros Benos. Russia has pledged that Greece would be the first country after Russia to exhibit the treasure.

    Ms Antonova also reassured Mr. Benos that she would raise the issue of the Turkish government's stated intention to turn the Ayia Sofia Church in Istanbul into a mosque at the general assembly of the International Monuments Council.

    End of English language section.

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