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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-10-12

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Athens re-elects mayor in first round Thessaloniki,Piraeus go for 2nd round
  • [02] Premier says gov't firm in its goals, after elections
  • [03] Avramopoulos thanks Athenians for his landslide victory
  • [04] About 10 former communities abstain from vote
  • [05] Tsohatzopoulos optimistic NATO intervention in Kosovo will be averted
  • [06] Greek PM,FM to attend inter-Balkan summit in Turkey
  • [07] Arcade Fusion '98 military exercise in progress
  • [08] Three killed in four-vehicle pileup
  • [09] Two detained foreign women give police the slip
  • [10] Hostage grenade victim buried

  • [01] Athens re-elects mayor in first round Thessaloniki,Piraeus go for 2nd round

    Athens 12/10/1998 (ANA)

    Incumbent Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos was re-elected in the first round of nationwide municipal and prefectural elections yesterday.

    According to collective results at 1:30 am today, he garnered around 57.41 percent of the vote, well ahead of the other contenders.

    Mr. Avramopoulos, although officially supported by main opposition New Democracy party, cultivated an image of being beyond party politics.

    Maria Damanaki, supported by the ruling PASOK party and opposition Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) party came second with 16.5 percent while dissident PASOK candidate and former Athens mayor Dimitris Beis received 12.69 percent.

    Leon Avdis, supported by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and by leftist and ecological organisations, received 10.48 percent.

    In Thessaloniki and Piraeus, the two other major municipalities of the country, there were no outright winners, with the top two candidates having to brace for the second round this Sunday.

    In Thessaloniki, Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, a New Democracy candidate, gathered 43.98 percent, while PASOK candidate Thrasyvoulos Lazaridis obtained 31.17 percent. Synaspismos candidate Spyridon Vouyias, making an impressive performance, received 15.61 percent.

    In Piraeus, the main opposition New Democracy party candidate Christos Agrapidis obtained 42.60 percent, while ruling PASOK candidate Christos Fotiou mustered 26.84 percent. KKE candidate Panayiotis Salpeas gathered 12.65 percent.

    In parallel prefectural elections for the Athens-Piraeus super prefecture New Democracy candidate Theodoros Katrivanos obtained 43.23 percent while incumbent PASOK prefect Evangelos Kouloumbis mustered 34.10 percent. KKE candidate Spyridon Halvatzis received 10.56 percent.

    In the Thessaloniki prefecture New Democracy candidate Christos Koskinas received 42.30 percent, while incumbent PASOK prefect Constantine Papadopoulos garnered 41.56 percent. Out of a total of 1,033 local administration bodies throughout the country, 3 41 are elected mayors or community presidents from the first round.

    ND elects 82 and PASOK 73, while 147 are elected by support by PASOK cooperating with other forces compared to 124 won by ND and allies. Yesterday's poll to elect new municipal and prefectural representatives is the first since the extensive redrawing o f the local government map and merger of small communities into larger municipal units.

    Voting began on schedule at 7 a.m. around the country, except for a slight delay in Thessaloniki, where electoral officials were late to their polling stations because of a dearth of taxis in Greece's second largest city.

    Voters decided on 898 mayoral races (747 in new municipal entities resulting from the mergers and 151 in previous ones), 133 heads of communities, 54 prefects, three "super-prefects" presiding over as many units comprised of a total of seven prefectures , 1,450 prefectural councillors, 16,634 municipal councillors, 844 community councillors, and more than 22,000 neighbourhood councillors in now merged communities. Voting was held in separate booths for municipal and prefectural councils.

    The total number of registered voters stands at about 8.9 million, including 1,468 citizens of other EU member-states in special registers. Voting began at 7 a.m. and ended at 7 p.m.

    The electoral system is the same for both municipal and prefectural elections.

    If the winning ticket does not receive the absolute majority of votes, a second round takes place on the following Sunday, October 18, between the two runners-up. The winning ticket in the first round receives three-fifths of seats, the remainder being apportioned to the other tickets. If the winning ticket receives more than 60 per cent of votes, the number of seats allocated to it increases proportionately. Councillors are elected in the first round on the basis of votes received.

    In statements to the ANA later, Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos said the "good start to the elections around the country should not be marred" by the residents of Avoyeion or of the small number of eight other communities protesting the changes.

    President Stephanopoulos calls for support of democratic institutions : President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos cast his vote in his home town of Patras, in the Peloponnese.

    "We must all support democratic institutions particularly when there are many problems and the situation is difficult," the president told reporters.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, on casting his vote in Athens, wished all candidates in support of the new reformed local government map all the best.

    "We need strong municipalities, autonomous prefectures because prefects and mayors must be responsible, capable and effective. Only in this way can we have a modern state," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Premier says gov't firm in its goals, after elections

    Athens 12/10/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said early today that the results of the first round of the municipal and prefectural elections yesterday proved that the government's policy for self-government and decentralisation has the support of the Greek people.

    Furthermore, he noted that the presence of the ruling PASOK party was decisive around the country, a fact which does not negate the specific case of Athens. He also said that the government will remain unmoved on its stance for the realisation of its goals, for which it has a mandate by the people. The premier said that the election sent messages to all political sides.

    "We received them and we will evaluate them," he said.

    Earlier, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that the political choices of the government will remain as they were, while the government will be judged for the total of its work in the year 2000 general elections.

    He stressed that Greece has political, economic and social stability and said that all should wait for the results from around the country to come in, before passing any judgement, while he added that PASOK will win the election in Thessaloniki and Piraeus during the second round of elections this Sunday.

    Party leaders : Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis said that the results were very satisfactory for his party but added, however, that "I fear that the message did not get through and that Mr. Simitis and his government are cut off from soc iety and are staying in their glass tower, while the situation of decline and greyness will continue."

    Mr. Karamanlis said that what is important is a victory for local administration in the second round and its strengthening, as well as a resounding message by citizens to the government.

    Former prime minister and ND honourary president Constantine Mitsotakis said that his predictions were confirmed that parties will be playing smaller roles than in the past and that personal and local criteria will prevail. He said that PASOK and Mr. Simitis' government had sustained a defeat, but added that the results of the second round must be awaited before conclusions were drawn.

    Mr. Mitsotakis said that ND was right in not calling for general elections, while adding that it had the legitimate right to call for early elections at any time.

    In her statement, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said that the results of the elections sent a message of condemnation for government policy which, as she said, her party had pursued from the very beginning.

    Welcoming the results with a feeling of "satisfaction, optimism and responsibility", she said that the KKE had increased its strength considerably, especially in agricultural and working class areas.

    Referring indirectly to her party's stance in the second round of the elections this coming Sunday, Ms. Papariga said that it will continue to support personalities or cadres from other parties on condition that they observe criteria desired by the KKE.

    Ms. Papariga said that these alliances with other parties or persons had contributed to the increase achieved by tickets supported by the KKE and let it be understood that the same tactic will also be followed in the second round of the elections.

    Commenting on the results, Coalition of the Left and Progress party leader Nikos Constantopoulos said they sent a strong message of protest to the government and its right-turn policy, as well as many messages to all.

    "For the Coalition these elections are the landmark of a wider course which we have set and lead to changes in the entire political system," he said.

    Mr. Constantopoulos said that the main political problem will be the way with which the parties will face the new strong challenges and these messages.

    He further said that the Coalition emerged stronger both in local administration and society, adding that it achieved a nationwide presence in all the municipalities and prefectures.

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas said that nationwide percentage of votes received by his party has doubled compared to the last general election.

    He said "we are not rejoicing, but we are underlining that the great victor of the elections was the invalid votes and the abstentions".

    He added that the leaders of the parties should be worried by this fact and not rejoice.

    Mr. Tsovolas said that the major conclusion of yesterday's elections was the condemnation of PASOK's "neo-liberal government policy".

    Finally, he said that DHKKI will examine the results of the elections within the week and after the meeting of the collective party body it will decide on which candidates to support during the second round of elections based on the interest of the citizens.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Avramopoulos thanks Athenians for his landslide victory

    Athens 12/10/1998 (ANA)

    Re-elected Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos during a televised address last night thanked the Athenian people for their appreciation for the work "their representatives accomplished".

    Mr. Avramopoulos addressed the people of Athens at 10:30 p.m., after he had a well developed picture of the election's results.

    He thanked his opponents for what he called a civilised atmosphere during the pre-election campaign and called on them to cooperate closely. The mayor thanked the people who voted for him and noted that he accepted their confidence with the same concern and anxiety as he did four years ago, while he promised to return their confidence in him.

    Speaking on the tone of the election campaigns of all the candidates, which as he said took place within the bounds of civility, he said that Greece as well as Athens do not have the luxury of "aimless conflict".

    Finally, he said that both he and his colleagues will continue with more experience this time the effort with unity and solidarity to make Athens more modern and with more light.

    Mayoral candidates : Mayoral candidate Maria Damanaki during her statement at 11:30 p.m. said "the election result is not of course what we wished for. It was a very hard battle and a difficult one against an opponent, against an image which was artfully made over a long time."

    She added "for those reasons, the battle required political will and cohesion by everybody. We did our best. However the battle was given by few. There was inertia, as well as serious obstacles in the name of in- party conflicts and personal strategies."

    "However, all that we achieved over these months is not that little: we proved in practice the realistic capability of conquering the unity in action of the modern progressive political spectrum. This can be done if there is a will, programme and vision ," she said.

    Ms. Damanaki congratulated Mr. Avramopoulos for his re-election, those who worked with her as well as those who supported her in her effort for "politics to regain their meaning" and promised to continue this struggle until the end.

    PASOK dissident candidate Dimitris Beis said that "the erratic policy of the ministers of today's government and finally the historic mistake of the leading group of PASOK caused, not only discord among PASOK supporters and the sinking of the government al choice for candidate, but also subsidised with a high percentage the election of Mr. Avramopoulos."

    Mayoral candidate Leon Avdis, supported by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and other leftist and ecological organisations, said that " the great victory of the front is the creation of the front itself and the way it operated, that is the quality it offered to the electoral process, and will continue and enrich the next period as well".

    "The political element which we introduced had a quantitative relation to the election result. An important number of voters approved our position and disapproved the dominant policy.

    I believe that we have achieved an important victory."

    Finally, Mr. Avdis stressed that he will continue the fight for a different perception of people and will continue to support the political word.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] About 10 former communities abstain from vote

    Athens 12/10/1998 (ANA)

    In a statement at noon yesterday, Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos said there was an issue with about 10 former communities out of a total of 5,500 in which their inhabitants decided a partial or total abstention from the vote.

    He said that this insignificant and small number had no influence at any point, on the contrary, it confirmed and absolutely vindicated reform.

    "However, there is an issue concerning the municipality of Anogeia in particular.

    There, in contrast to the former communities which are abstaining the ballot boxes were not even set up since the inhabitants had previously taken over the polling stations, calling for the municipality to stay as it is for historical reasons. Anogeia does not want to merge with Zoniana and Axos. No voting took place in Zoniana, but in Axos voting was held as normal. Consequently, the elections are postponed for this Wednesday.

    However, with regard to the other communities or the former communities where the inhabitants are abstaining there is no question of the elections being postponed. By law, the elections are considered as having been carried out," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Tsohatzopoulos optimistic NATO intervention in Kosovo will be averted

    Athens 12/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greek defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday expressed optimism that, even at the last minute, a NATO military intervention in Kosovo would be averted, stressing that Greece was continuing efforts in that direction.

    Decisions reached to date concerned "the completion of military preparations with a view to exerting pressure for a political solution," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told reporters.

    "I am optimistic that logic will prevail before the final political decision is made for the conversion of such preparations into military action," he said.

    The government has said that Greece would not use its right of veto if NATO decided to use military force, but would not provide forces in any of the operations.

    Justifying Greece's stand, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said "it is easy for those who live thousands of kilometres away and will not see any of the results of a military strike to decide to activate the military machine".

    "We, however, will be directly affected by the repercussions, and understand that such a move would have no positive outcome. We hope and make all efforts, through bilateral contacts in all directions, to have logic prevail," he said.

    He advised coolheadedness, adding that the critical time limit for any further developments would be early this week.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Greek PM,FM to attend inter-Balkan summit in Turkey

    Athens 12/10/1998 (ANA)

    An inter-Balkan summit will convene in Antalya, Turkey, today overshadowed by developments in Kosovo and NATO threats for air strikes against Serb military positions.

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos will be arriving in Antalya today to attend the summit.

    Greece had no indication by Saturday on whether Yugoslavia will be represented and at what level. The absence of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic will also create difficulties for the initiative undertaken, following the tripartite summit in Delphi last weekend, by Greece, Bulgaria and Romania on a peaceful solution to the problem of Kosovo.

    The three countries had agreed, following coordinated discussions between Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov and Romanian President Emil Constantinescu, on an initiative being undertaken to bring Yugoslavia and Albania to the negotiating table. However, it is considered uncertain now, also in light of NATO's intervention in Kosovo, whether Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko would be attending.

    Foreign news agencies though reported yesterday that Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic and Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic were representing Yugoslavia, while Albania will be represented by its Foreign Minister Paskal Milo.

    Other countries participating are Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria and Romania as well as officials from observer nations Bosnia and Croatia.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Arcade Fusion '98 military exercise in progress

    Athens 12/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greece is participating in the Allied Forces' exercise Arcade Fusion '98, being held by the Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corp (ARRC). The exercise, which started yesterday, is being held with the help of computers, satellite communications and war games materialisation software and will include the participation of Greece, Italy, Britain and the multinational centre which is staffed by Belgian, German, Dutch and British officers.

    ARRC Commander Vice-General Mike Jackson will visit Edessa headquarters on October 18 to be briefed on the progress of the exercise, which ends on October 20.

    The hypothetical scenario of the exercise involves the dispatch of land forces to police an unstable isolated region facing war. The peacekeeping mission develops into full-scale war following some incident.

    The exercise aims to improve the tactical and procedural operation of forces and improve management and control systems.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Three killed in four-vehicle pileup

    Athens 12/10/1998 (ANA)

    Three people were killed and another three injured in a four-vehicle pileup on the Larisa-Thessaloniki motorway near the community of Makryhori on Friday night.

    The accident occurred at about 9 p.m. when a car driven by Constantine Kiousis, and having Constantine Keimalis as a passenger, entered the oncoming lane and crashed into a truck loaded with pulpa and driven by Panayiotis Mamais.

    A third truck coming from Larisa then crashed into them, while a jeep coming from the Tempi area slammed into the other vehicles immediately afterwards.

    Kiousis, Keimalis and Mamais were killed, while Fanoula Panayiotopoulou, who was riding in the first truck, was seriously injured. The driver of the second truck Dimitris Gontas and the driver of the jeep Ektoras Kolatos were slightly injured.

    The exact causes of the accident have not yet been disclosed, but Kiousis, whose car had entered the oncoming traffic lane, was reportedly under the influence of alcohol.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Two detained foreign women give police the slip

    Athens 12/10/1998 (ANA)

    Three police officers were expected to appear before the public prosecutor yesterday for their role in the escape of four undocumented immigrant women from police custody, police said.

    Police have apprehended two of the four women who were wounded during their attempt to escape but the other two remain at large, police said.

    Warrant Officer Dimitris Brisolakis, Chief Master Sgt. Lambros Sakkas and Chief Master Sgt. Anastasios Lymberopoulos were under arrest, pending an internal investigation, since the preliminary questioning revealed enough evidence for such action, accord ing to police.

    Natalia Sicova, 39 and Lilia Barbus 19 from Moldova, Angela Bogdanova, 24 from Lithuania and Tatiana Belayieva from Belarus requested they use the showers at about 5 a.m. on Saturday, police said.

    According to the preliminary investigation, Brisolakis gave the necessary consent as officer on duty and Sakkas offered to guard the women, while Lymberopoulos was jail guard on duty.

    According to police, the four women, who were awaiting deportation proceedings, then attempted to climb down from the fifth floor veranda using a cable, but Barbus and Belayieva fell, were lightly injured and arrested by police.

    Finally police announced that all venues of the issue are under investigation.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Hostage grenade victim buried

    Athens 12/10/1998 (ANA)

    Amalia Ginaki, the luckless woman held hostage in her Athens apartment by escaped convict Sorin Matei on September 23, was buried at the Kokkinos Mylos cemetery at noon on Saturday in an atmosphere of profound grief. Her coffin was followed by her mother,brother and fiance, who had also been Matei's hostages but had managed to be saved.

    Amalia, 25, died at the Red Cross Hospital in Athens at 11 a.m. on Friday where she had been hospitalised on the night of the event after being seriously wounded by a handgrenade.

    Wreaths were sent to the funeral by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the family of Sorin Matei, former Security Chief Mr. Papafilis, the Panhellenic Union of Police Officers and the occupants of the apartment building in Niovis street in Patissia where Am alia and her family had been living.

    The victim, who was injured two weeks before she was to be married, lost her right leg and sustained major abdominal injuries when a handgrenade fastened on her trousers exploded, just as police raided her apartment, in Niovis street in downtown Athens, on September 23 and were leading her out of the apartment building.

    The five-time escaped convict, 27-year-old Sorin Matei, who put the grenade around the girl's waist, died under mysterious circumstances while hospitalised three days after the incident at the Korydallos prison's infirmary. A team of coroners ruled that he died by choking on his own vomit while he was kept heavily sedated and bound.

    Sorin and 10 police officers, including the Greek Police (EL.AS) chief and deputy chief of police, both of whom resigned following the botched police raid, were also injured in the explosion.

    Athens News Agency

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