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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-02-28

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

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

February 28, 2005


  • [01] Latest poll gives ND 5.9% lead over rival PASOK
  • [02] Papandreou criticizes past PASOK oversights, says return to power depends on party's reform
  • [03] PASOK's Papandreou speaks at congress of Serbia's Democratic Party
  • [04] ND party refers to PASOK, Papandreou in touching on ongoing corruption furors
  • [05] Christodoulos remains steadfast in the face of criticism, calls on faithful to rally around Church
  • [06] FM Molyviatis to meet US envoy on Monday
  • [07] Top ND Euro-MP calls for end to 'attitude of corruption cultivated over the past 20 years'
  • [08] Gov't sources on latest release of State Dept. consular sheet on Greece
  • [09] Communist party to take initiative for an 'international communist pole'
  • [10] ND Euro-MP at UN council on gender equality next week
  • [11] Bomb blast destroys Rhodes mayor's car
  • [12] Five illegals detained by coast guard

  • [01] Latest poll gives ND 5.9% lead over rival PASOK

    Athens, 28/2/2005 (ANA)

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) continued to hold its lead over main opposition PASOK in the latest opinion poll unveiled by an Athens daily, garnering 39.2 percent of respondents' preference to 33.3 percent for PASOK.

    In terms of other parties, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was preferred by 6.7 percent of respondents; 3.1 was the result for the out-of-Parliament LA.OS party; 3 percent for the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) and 2.2 for other parties. Exactly 8.5 percent answered "don't know/won't answer"

    A similar poll by another research firm this week showed a 4-point lead for ND over PASOK.

    Results of the latest poll, published in the Sunday edition of the daily "Eleftheros Typos", showed that 71.5 percent of respondents believe ND will win the next elections; 15.2 percent answered PASOK, while 12.3 percent of respondents answered "don't know/won't answer".

    On the question of "who is most capable as prime minister" -- a standing question of most pollsters in Greece -- Premier Costas Karamanlis holds a roughly 20-point lead (48.1 percent) over his rival, PASOK leader and former foreign minister George Papandreou, who garnered 28.6 percent of respondents' preferences.

    Asked to judge the premier's performance in the almost 12 months since he assumed the premiership, 54.1 percent of respondents opted for a positive or probably positive rating; 27.2 percent gave him a negative or probably negative rating, and 18.4 percent were neutral in their opinion.

    The poll was conducted by the GPO S.A. firm on commission for the "Eleftheros Typos" daily between Feb. 21 and Feb. 24 on a sample of 2,000 people around the country and via random telephone interviews.

    [02] Papandreou criticizes past PASOK oversights, says return to power depends on party's reform

    Athens, 28/2/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday evening launched into an unprecedented critique of many aspects of his own party's nearly 20 years of rule since 1981, speaking to members of a wide-ranging council established to restructure the party.

    Although he said PASOK's overall performance was positive, Papandreou nevertheless stressed that the party's long hold on power generated an "arrogant behavior and a feeling of permanence, one detached from the people's problems".

    Among others, and in comments that come a week before the main opposition party's closely watched congress gets underway, Papandreou also charged that certain high-ranking party cadres developed "personal groupings" over the years in order to survive politically, something he said exacerbated the party's internal crisis and made it more bureaucratic.

    Moreover, the former foreign minister warned an audience that included many one-time Cabinet members of the previous two Simitis governments against expecting PASOK's return to power if it does not reform itself.

    "Neither the people nor do we want to return to power in the condition we were, and for us to continue from the same point (we left off) and in the same manner," he underlined.

    In pointing to a future strategy for the party created by his father in 1974, late premier Andreas Papandreou, the younger Papandreou said "principles and values" will again return to the agenda of debate, while discussion over the economy will centre on new criteria and what type of growth the country wants.

    [03] PASOK's Papandreou speaks at congress of Serbia's Democratic Party

    BELGRADE 28/2/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition leader George Papandreou on Sunday arrived here over the weekend to participate as an official guest at the congress of the Democratic Party of Serbia.

    In a brief address to congress delegates, Papandreou praised the role of the Democratic Party and its president, Boris Tadic, in reforming and bolstering democracy in the country.

    "We want Serbia to become a member of the European family. We want to help you and we will help you create conditions for secure development and stability in the region, and with Serbia and Montenegro in the European family," Papandreou said, adding: "The European community will be much improved with Serbia and Montenegro."

    [04] ND party refers to PASOK, Papandreou in touching on ongoing corruption furors

    Athens, 28/2/2005 (ANA)

    Ruling New Democracy party secretary Vangelis Meimarakis on Sunday pointed to the previous PASOK governments and current main opposition leader George Papandreou in discussing the ongoing "decadent" phenomena, as he said, plaguing the independent judiciary and the Church.

    "Mr. Papandreou feels that he is losing the opinion polls, and ahead of PASOK's congress he's searching for guilty parties," Meimarakis said from Messinia prefecture over the weekend.

    "How did such phenomena arise? Who had the government's reins? Wasn't he (Papandreou) the foreign minister?" Meimarakis asked.

    Moreover, he said the government backs Archbishop Christodoulos' recently announced initiative to "clean up" the Church.

    PASOK reaction: In response, PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis charged that ND "is again relying on its known method of distraction to transfer the issue to PASOK."

    [05] Christodoulos remains steadfast in the face of criticism, calls on faithful to rally around Church

    Athens, 28/2/2005 (ANA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos on Sunday appeared unflinching in his determination to ride out an ongoing and unprecedented corruption crisis enveloping the Church of Greece's top hierarchy, days after his closely watched television interview and amid cries from some quarters demanding his resignation.

    "If those battling us (the Church) think I will resign or that I will stop speaking out they are deeply mistaken," Christodoulos told an enthusiastic congregation of worshippers at a cathedral in the Athens district of Kallithea on Sunday morning.

    Christodoulos himself has come under intense scrutiny for his alleged ties to a fugitive felon (Apostolos Vavylis) who apparently was involved over the past decade in activities ranging from drug smuggling to selling equipment to Greek police to opaque missionary activity in southern Italy to even working within the inner circle of associates of Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos -- especially in the run-up to the latter's election to the Orthodox throne of the Holy Land in 2001.

    Irineos, himself at the centre of a multi-million dollar legal entanglement with an Israeli company and with accumulated allegations of financial mismanagement hanging over the Jerusalem Patriarchate, last week belatedly claimed that Christodoulos sent Vavylis to Jerusalem prior to his (Irineos') election in September 2001, a claim flatly denied by the outspoken head of the Church of Greece.

    Back in Athens, Christodoulos on Sunday reiterated that the Greek people remain the most pious in Europe, something he said may bother certain circles.

    Moreover, in an emotional plea from the pulpit, he called on Orthodox faithful to rally around the Church and its clergy in order to neutralize what he called an ongoing propaganda war aimed against him and the Church.

    "Scandals exist in order to test people, but we must not lose our respect for the Church," Christodoulos added.

    A handful of Metropolitans -- in the Greek Orthodox Church an ecclesiastical title and related jurisdiction roughly the equivalent of bishops -- have been accused, separately, of financial mismanagement, shady business dealings, promiscuity, lewd behavior and ties with a notorious high-ranking cleric, Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis, implicated in a trial fixing ring and antiquities smuggling, among others.

    Yiossakis, in fact, remains jailed without bail for his alleged involvement in the Kythira antiquities smuggling case, which dates from the mid 1990s.

    Response to Jerusalem Patriarchate: A day earlier, the influential Archbishop released a statement referring directly to the recent claims by Irineos.

    "Today's extremely dangerous circumstances, ones affecting the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and ones that have assumed huge national dimensions, at this crucial time necessitate strict self-control and responsibility, before things are led to a final and painful phase for Orthodoxy and Hellenism ... the cost for our country and people will be heavy. That is why I prefer, amid this new provocation tonight (Saturday), to conscientiously remain silent, even if I am to be treated unfairly."

    His statement came after an announcement by the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem saying, among others, that all of Irineos' statements - conveyed by a press spokesman and another Patriarchate-affiliated cleric -- last week "stand". Moreover, the Jerusalem Church clarified that Apostolos Vavylis arrived in the Holy Land as "Apostolos Fokas" not "Vavylis", which was mistakenly mentioned in a previous press release by the Patriarchate.

    The press release adds: "The importance of the issue that has arisen should not revolve around 'who sent or recommended' (with no malicious intent) Vavylis and those with him, but the Church's tranquility as soon as possible…"

    Along those lines, the Jerusalem Patriarchate announced that it is stopping every public discussion over the issue.

    Trio of former PASOK ministers: Meanwhile, three of main opposition PASOK's top Thessaloniki-area deputies - as well as former ministers -- on Sunday all commented on the Church-related crisis.

    Evangelos Venizelos, a constitutional law professor away from his political career, referred to a "serious ecclesiastical problem ... and not exclusively a problem of individuals".

    On his part, former defense minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos -- who spoke to supporters during an event in Thessaloniki -- called for a "government intervention" vis-ŕ-vis the autonomous Church of Greece in order to facilitate a clean up. He also claimed that the government was indifferently watching developments within the Church's ranks.

    Finally, former minister Yiannis Magriotis cited what he called a need for "catharsis and democratic reform of the Church".

    Speaking earlier from the pulpit before attending the same event in the northern port city organized by Tsohatzopoulos, Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Anthimos wholeheartedly sup-ported Archbishop Christodoulos and called on the faithful to stand by the Church.

    [06] FM Molyviatis to meet US envoy on Monday

    Athens, 28/2/2005 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis will meet at the foreign ministry on Monday with US Ambassador to Athens Charles Ries.

    According to a foreign ministry announcement on Sunday, the meeting will be held at 11:30.

    [07] Top ND Euro-MP calls for end to 'attitude of corruption cultivated over the past 20 years'

    Athens, 28/2/2005 (ANA)

    Former high-ranking minister and current New Democracy Euro-deputy Ioannis Varvitsiotis on Friday cited a need for the state to "stop an attitude of corruption that has been cultivated over the past 20 years, one that ridicules institutions and the rules of law," a more-or-less sharp and direct criticism of past PASOK governments.

    Varvitsiotis made the comments during an event at the Old Parliament building entitled "Institutions in Greek society and the role of politics today", organized by the Constantine Karamanlis Institute of Democracy, a non-profit Athens-based think tank named in honor of ND founder and Greek statesman Karamanlis.

    Varvitsiotis said an ongoing crisis in the judiciary, replete with numerous allegations of corruption is far worse that the furor regarding graft and sleaze within the Church's ranks, as the former affects all of society.

    On his part, Athens University canon law professor I. Konidaris cited a need for measures to clearly "distinguish" the state from the Church, to the benefit of both sides, as he said.

    [08] Gov't sources on latest release of State Dept. consular sheet on Greece

    Athens, 28/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greek government circles over the weekend reiterated that Greece once proved during the recent Olympic Games that it is one of the safest destinations in the world, following the release late last week of a US State Department consular information sheet for Greece.

    The same sources noted that the struggle against the international phenomenon of terrorism remains unending.

    The report, as far as Greece is concerned, was published at the Internet site


    [09] Communist party to take initiative for an 'international communist pole'

    Athens, 28/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) over the weekend announced its intention to undertake an initiative for the creation of an ''international communist pole".

    According to a relevant decision taken at the party's recent 17th congress and published on Sunday, with the initiative concerning Communist parties around the world which ''are close to each other in their ideological and political positions, defend Marxism-Leninism and the contribution of socialism as we have known it, as well as the necessity for the struggle of socialism.''

    In the decision it is also noted that the formation of the communist pole and the ''common action and cooperation between communist parties will give a new impetus in the effort to build a strong international anti-imperialist movement.''

    [10] ND Euro-MP at UN council on gender equality next week

    Athens, 28/2/2005 (ANA)

    New Democracy Euro-deputy Maria Panayiotopoulou-Kassitou will participate in a European Parliament delegation attending next week's 49th UN council for women's issues.

    The delegation is comprised of members of the Euro-Parliament's gender equality committee.

    [11] Bomb blast destroys Rhodes mayor's car

    Athens, 28/2/2005 (ANA)

    A makeshift bomb was detonated under the car of the mayor of Rhodes late Friday evening, destroying the vehicle and damaging other cars parked nearby, police said.

    The explosive device went off at around 10:30 p.m.

    The mayor of the holiday island's largest municipality and its capital, George Yiannopoulos, phoned police after the blast. No individual or group claimed responsibility.

    An investigation is continuing.

    [12] Five illegals detained by coast guard

    Athens, 28/2/2005 (ANA)

    A total of five foreign nationals, believed to be illegal migrants, were arrested by coast guard officers in two separate instances over the weekend on the island of Lesvos and in the western port city of Patra.

    Three foreign nationals detained in Lesvos after being found without travel documents reportedly told authorities they were ferried over to the eastern Aegean island from the opposite Turkish coast.

    In Patra, two foreign nationals were intercepted as they attempted to board an Italy-bound ferry boat with fake travel documents.

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