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Antenna: News in English (AM), 97-05-08

Antenna Radio News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Antenna Radio <> - email:

News in English, 08/05/97


  • The prime minister responds to inhouse critics of his Turkish policy.
  • Constantinos Karamnlis's calls the ex-king's claims about political events in the 1960s, false.
  • And, The US says it backs a Greek-Turkish committee to discuss Greek- Turkish relations.


The prime minister is defending his handling of Greek-Turkish relations from inhouse critics.

Kostas Simitis says his decision to go ahead with a Greek-Turkish commission to look at issues between the two countries was correct. The committee will have no negotiating power, and there is no danger, as some fear, of Turkey using it to put Greece's sovereign rights on the negotiating table.

Kostas Simitis responded to a letter sent to him by 32 Pasok MPs two weeks ago, expressing concerns over the Greek-Turkish committee he's agreed to at the European Union's request.

"The committee does not mark the beginning of any political dialogue with Turkey", he reassured his deputies, "or any kind of arbitration. The committee will deal with procedural issues, exploring the framework of a possible framework for further talks. The committee conclusions will not be binding".

The prime minister brushed aside claims that the committee could lead to negotiations over Greece's sovereign rights.

Explained Simitis: "The committee will either lead to a betterment or worsening of relations. But our poicy is clear: Greece will not discuss its territorial rights, which are codified in international law, and internationally-recognised treaties. Greece will discuss no change in the status quo in the Aegean. Our policy is to defend Greece's right and interests. The burden of defending its words and deeds is on Turkey".

Simitis also went on the offensive against the 32 MPs. "Letters aren't normally made public before their receiver gets them, but I heard about yours on the radio first, at 2:30 pm, just as I was about to leave for Austria and Germany. Do those who sent the letter, but didn't even sign it, ask themselves whether they were making it harder for me to push Greece's views with its partners?"

Simitis acknowledges that there will always be differences of opinion, that's why there are party bodies to discuss the issues. "But this letter wasn't a call for discussion. I believe such public announcements do not promote inner-party democracy, party unity, or party interests".


The prime minister's comments sparked heated discussion between Pasok MPs, some backing the government, others opposing it.

During the MPs meeting in parliament there were also heated personal exchanges.

Speaking on behalf of the 32 MPs, Pandelis Ikonomou offered to tender his resignation if the prime minister so wished. He also said he faxed the letter to Simitis at 11 am.

Yiannis Kapsis, a former deputy defence minister also took umbrage, saying his signature exists. He called for an investigation to learn who leaked the letter to the press.

Petros Petralias hit the ball back, retorting "You shouldn't ask us, YOU wrote it".

Foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos accused the 32 letter-writers of weakening their own position.

That sparked another intervention from Kapsis, who accused the prime minister of just having spoken of national pride for the first time in years. And Kapsis asked the party leaders to tell the MPs if all of them enjoy the same confidence. "If we do", he said, "we'll make an effort".

Opponents of the 32 replied, "That's why you sent your letter".

There was also a personal exchange betwen Stelios Papathemelis and Pangalos.

At the podium, Papathemelis said, "I love Mr Pangalos, but he's his only enemy".

Pangalos interrupted, accusing him of launching a personal attack on the basis of gossip in the press.

Papathemelis repeated, "I said I love you".

Pangalos rejoined that he doesn't want Papathemelis's love.


Former prime minister Constantine Karamanlis says a statement by Greece's former king, claiming he wanted a dictatorship imposed in 1966, is hardly worth commenting on.

Karamanlis responded to ex-king Constantine's extensive statement of Tuesday, in which the former monarch says Karamanlis and a number of other politicians asked him to impose a dictatorship on Greece, between 1965 and 1967.

Karmanlis's archives suggest that officers loyal to Constantine had a plan to overthrow Karamanlis's government in 1976.

Last weekend, excerpts from the archives of former prime minister Constantine Karamanlis appeared in the Greek press. The archive documents, comprising confidential correspondence and reports, speak of a coup being planned to overthrow Karamanlis's government in 1976. The suspected coup was being plotted by officers loyal to former king Constantine.

Karamanlis dispatched Giorgios Rallis to London to investigate the coup information, which originated with the British government.

Rallis spoke to the ex-king, who claimed to know nothing about it.

In a response to the Karamanlis archive excerpts that appeared Tuesday, Constantine claims the British prime minister said he knew nothing of the coup reports.

The former king also says that he, Constantine, has always acted in the interests of Greek democracy. And, going back a decade, to the unstable months before the colonel's coup imposed a dictatorship on Gree, Constantine tries to put the shoe on the other foot, claiming that Karamanlis asked HIM to impose a dictatorship in 1966.

Constantine also says that the late Panagiotis Kanellopoulos asked him to impose a dictatorship in 1966, as did Georgios Rallis and Kanellopoulos in 1967.

Both Karamanlis and Rallis issued angry replies to the former monarch's clais, regarding 1976, and the 1960s.

Karmanlis calls them false, and hardly deserving of comment, both because of their content and their tone.

He refutes the claim that he called for a dictatorship to be imposed in 1966, citing excerpts from a book recently released by Dimitrios Bitsios, a political advisor of Constantine when he was still king in the '60s, which tally with what his, Karamanlis's, archives show.

Bitsios says that in Paris in 1966, Karamanlis told him that he was refusing the king's request to return to Greece and take over the ERE party which he once headed, and prepare for elections.

Karamanlis told Bitsios he was declining the offer. He declined again, a month-and-a-half later, sayingthe existing political impasse could only be resolved if the constitution were changed, something he, Karamanlis could not do.

In his reply to the former king on Wednesday, Karmanlis adds that anyone who still favours the monarchy should understand once and for all that the issue of what sort of rule Greece has, has been settled once and for all. The monarchy is gone forever.

One Greek daily has published a letter from Karamanlis to Greek-American professor George Anastopoulos, dated November 28th, 1968, a year after the colonel's had imposed a dictatorship in Greece. In his retrospective letter, Karamanlis says he was offered the opportunity to establish a dictatorship in Greece in 1966. He adds that he abandoned politics precisely so he wouldn't have to do so.

Giorgios Rallis responded to Constantine's account of events in London in 1976. Constantine says Rallis visited him there, saying there were reports that officers loyal to the former monarch were plotting a coup against then prime minister Karamanlis. Constantine says he was surprised at the reports said to be coming from the British government. He spoke to British prime minister James Callaghan, he adds, who also said he knew of no such coup plot.

Rallis says that's not the way things went. "I told the former king of the rumours that certain officers loyal to him were, with his knowledge, planning to overthrow the government. Several people charged such a plan was in the works, including the British ambassador, on his government's orders".

Constantine says he asked Rallis to meet with Callaghan after his meeting with the British premier. Rallis says Constantine made no request, and that he, Rallis, thanked the former monarch after the latter denied any knowledge of a coup plot.

Regarding events in 1967, Rallis continues: "Then prime minister Giorgios Rallis told the king, in the presence of the defence minister, Bitsios and me, told the king that a state of emergency, allowed for in the constitution, should be declared only if the situation warranted it. The king agreed. The king added that in the event that parliament were dissolved, he would, in keeping with the constitution, call all the MPs to ratify or reject the state of emergency.


The United States welcomes the setting up of the Greek-Turkish committee of experts to look at issues separating the two countries.

US assistant secretary of state Strobe Talbot spoke during a US-EU conference on Nato issues in Washington.

US ambassador to Greece Thomas Niles spoke along the same lines after meeting with New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis Wednesday.

Niles said the US backs the EU initiative to form the Greek-Turkish commission, whose members will not meet, at least before their initial reports to the EU.

The EU and Turkey want the two Greek and two Turkish members of the commission to meet three times; Greece wants them to meet only if their initial reports find common ground between the two sides.

Asked about that, Niles said it is not the US's place to comment on how the commission proceedings should be conducted.


The man creating a monument to be placed at the grave of the late Andreas Papandreou, says it will be symbolic and simple.

Sculptor Kyriakos Rokos talked about his plans to a local Athenian magazine.

He says two immortal materials, marble and bronze, will be used in the monument. It will be modern and dynamic.

Philippos Letsis, the magazine publisher, says the monument to the man who founded Pasok and was elected prime minister three times before his death will include a 2-metre by 1-and-a-half metre marble plaque.

On this will be placed bronze figures signifying pain and agony. Amid them, the Greek flag will spout, as if from a spring.

The monument will be in place before the memorial service marking a year since Papandreou's death on June 22nd.


Composer Mikis Theodorakis continues to undergo medical tests in Athens. Doctors are mainly checking out his lungs and digestive system.

Theodorakis cut short a concert tour in Germany last week, complaining of respiratory problems. Initial test results showed nothing worrying. And doctors say Theodorakis is just suffering from exhaustion.

The internationally-acclaimed Theodorakis entered the Athens Medical Centre Tuesday. He is expected to be released Friday, after the tests are completed.


Archeologists doing restoration work on the Acropolis say the Parthenon, or Elgin, Marbles, need to be returned, if the ability of the ancient temple to keep standing is to be ensured.

The marbles were taken form the Acropolis to Britain by Lord Elgin in 1801, and are still in the British Museum, despite repeated requests from Greece that they be returned.

. The archeological report adds strength to Greece's argument that for historical and ethical reasons, the marbles should be restored to their rightful place.

UNESCO has asked that the issue to be discussed by Greece and Turkey. The Greek and British cultural ministers are expected to discuss the marbles during an EU meeting on June 30th.

Britain's new environment secretary says that returning the marbles would be impractical, because such a move would set off demands by other countries that the British Museum return artefacts taken from them through the centuries.


Poles in Greece's marked the anniversary of their country's independence. Members of the Greek- Polish Association celebrated the establishment of what was the first-ever constitution ratified by a vote in Europe, the second-ever in the world.

The 206th anniversary was marked with plays performed by students at the Polish school in Athens.

The plays were all about red-letter dates in Polish history.

© ANT1 Radio 1997

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