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Antenna: News in English (AM), 97-05-14

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From: Antenna Radio <> - email:

News in English, 14/05/97


  • The Karamanlis archives shed light on Greek politics in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • The prime minister meets with the next president of the European Union.
  • And, what a cough can tell you about your health.


The archives of former prime minister Constantinos Karamanlis are generating more discussion.

The 12th volume of the archives contains digs at former prime minister Andreas Papandreou, who apparently withdrew his long-standing support for a Karamanlis presidency in 1985 at the last minute.

The 12th volume of Constantinos Karamanlis's archives talk extensively about parliament's choice of the Greek president in 1985.

Karamanlis was expected to be elected to a second term, but the Pasok government led by Andreas Papandreou withdrew its support at the last minute, and elected Christos Sartzetakis instead.

The Karamanlis archives relate a conversation between Karamanlis and Papandreou in July, when the latter told Karamanlis he should have a second term, because his presence in the presidential office was important to political stability.

In February of 1985, Antonis LivAnis, head of prime minister Papandreou's office, sent Karamanlis a letter in which he said that a section of Pasok would be opposed to a second Karamanlis term as president, and that the Pasok leadership was wondering what Karamanlis's stand toward it would be if he were re-elected by parliament. Livanis also wrote that Papandreou was afraid that 20 leading Pasok MPs would vote against Karamanlis, even if the party backed him for a second term.

That would amount to a rebellion, and force the government to call an immediate general election.

On February 28th, Papandreou visited Karamanlis to talk about the presidency issue. Papandreou told him that Pasok's executive bureau had agreed unanimously to nominate him for the second term. "He told me that he considered my presence in the presidential post indispensable to the smooth working of the country's political life, and because he felt the future would be difficult, and that he would need my support if he were re- elected prime minister".

Karamanlis says they even agreed that he would be sworn in on the morning of March 25th.

On March 8th, top Papandroeu aide Agamemnon Koutsogiorgas told Karamanlis aide Petros Moliviatis that 10 per cent of the Pasok central committee opposed a second Karamanlis term.

Moliviatis sent Papandreou a note on Karamanlis's behalf, telling the prime minister that he needn't feel obliged to back Karamanlis if it would make things difficult for him.

Papandreou answered that there was no question of his support being withdrawn, and that there were no serious problems.

And, on March 9th, Papandreou surprised even his closest associates, announcing at a Pasok central committee meeting, that Pasok was backing Christos Sartzetakis for the presidency.

Sartzetakis was elected by the Pasok majority in parliament. Karamanlis says that he didn't feel bitter when Andreas Papandreou switched horses - in fact, he felt relieved.

Karamanlis also says, however, that he was concerned to see the prime minister behaving like a common con artist.


The Karamanlis archives also refer to the the behind- the-scenes relations between Karamanlis and Constantinos Mitsotakis five years later.

And they talk about the controversy generated when Antonis Samaras was handling a major foreign policy issue as Mitsotakis's foreign minister in 1991 and 1992.

As prime minister in 1990, Mitsotakis backed Karamanlis for the presidency once again. Karamanlis said he wasn't that eager to re-enter public office, but would if Mitsotakis thought his presence was important to the nation. Mitsotakis said it was, and Karamanlis got his second term.

New Democracy founder Karamanlis says Mitsotakis also knew that his, Karamanlis's, presence in the presidential office would guarantee the cohesion of the party, and of Mitsotakis's New Democracy government, and leadership of the party.

Nonetheless, Karamanlis also says that, given the poor relations he had with Mitsotakis, Mitsotakis's backing was an honour.

Karamanlis relates that Mitsotakis called backing him for the presidency the smartest investment of his life.

The 12th volume of the archives includes a special chapter on Greece's relations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or Fyrom. Those relations were strained at the outset of the 90s, when Fyrom tried to become recognised simply by the Greek name of Macedonia. Then-foreign minister Antonis Samaras struck a tough pose with Fyrom and the EU over the name issue.

The archives contain a letter from Samaras to Karamanlis, dated April 3rd, 1992. Samaras asked Karamanlis for a second meeting of the party leaders, under Karamanlis. Samaras also asked Karamanlis to intervene so Greece could quote "at last obtain a position on the Fyrom issue".

Karmanlis replied: "When we last met on March 13th, you told me the government didn't have a common line on the issue. I advised you to attempt to work out a common line and implement it. If, as you write, valuable time has been lost, then you, as foreign minister, cannot be said NOT to be responsible. If a minister believes the government lacks a common line, then he must ask himself if it is useful for him to stay on as a cabinet member.

Another Moliviatis note in the archives sheds light on how relations between then-prime minister Mitsotakis and Samaras were strained over the Fyrom issue.

"There was an open breach between the two", he writes. "Mitsotakis favoured a more flexible policy, which would combine protecting our national interests and avoiding isolation from the European Union and the United States. Samaras, on the other hand, implemented an inflexible, negative policy, which quickly isolated us completely from the rest of the EU. During Samaras's tenure as foreign minister, there was also an unprecedented worsening of our relations with all our Balkan neighbours.

Moliviatis also comments on the fact that despite the difference between the two men, the situation dragged on for months, with Samaras not resigning, and Mitsotakis not removing him from office.


The latest archive releases have touched off reaction within Pasok and New Democracy. Pasok MPs commented on the 1985 presidential election. New Democracy deputies said the archives have no bearing on the present.

Pasok MPs talked not only about the 1985 presidential controversy, but also about references in the Karamanlis archives to Andreas Papandreou's foreign policy handling.

Kosmas Sfyriou asks rhetorically, "In 12 volumes of archives, have you found one line of self-criticism from Mr Karamanlis?" And adds, "Fortunately, the nation had Andreas Papandreou as a leader".

Christos Smirlis says the archives are of course relevant to Greek society and history, but that they seem also to be something of a family affair. Smirlis says before he makes any more comments, he's waiting to see what the final volume of the archives will have to say about the late Andreas Papandreou, Pasok's founder.

Fivos Ioannides says the archives tailor history to Karamanlis's liking. "They're consistent", he goes on, "with Karamanlis, who always worshipped himself and thinks God made him to converse with history. He makes himself and his actions saintly. That doesn't mean that I don't recognise that at one point in his life he made an important contribution to the nation".

Theodoros Katsanevas says he doesn't know much about the archives - it's a matter for historians, not the political parties.

That's something many New Democracy MPs would second. A number of them say that the archives have no political significance today, just historical value.

Athanasios Tsaldaris keeps his distance from the archives in his statement, saying that New Democracy is a many-sided party.

He calls the archives "actions, judgements, and thoughts of Karamanlis. Wonder, judgement, and criticism are not the jobs of today. They belong to the historian of the future. The New Democracy Karamanlis founded contains many different political tendencies and preferences.

Tsaldaris also makes a reference to Karamanlis's statement last week, that no one can change the countries political system, and former king Constantine's reply that only the Greek people can decide that.

That exchange came after a week of heated statements and counter-statements between Karamanlis and the former king, following the release of other archival material. Some say Karamanlis may have been sending a message to royalists within New Democracy.

Tsaldaris sides with Karamanlis, saying no one can question the country's political system, and no one wants a revolution.

Petros Moliviatis, a close Karamanlis associate, believes the archives are of great importance. "The aim of the archives", he says, "is to shed light on history. The more the politicians help, with their archives, the better informed the Greek people and Greek historians will be".

Giorgios Souflias, on the other hand, is brief in his comment. "Everyone judges events according to his own views", he says.

Giannis Kefalloyiannis says the archive issues haven't damaged the party's image. Like many others, he calls on everyone to let the historians write history.

After the controversy of the past week, Thanassis Davakis and Vassilis Michaloliakos say everyone has a place in New Democracy.


Prime minister Kostas Simitis says Greece and Luxembourg have similar views when it comes to the institutional changes the European Union should make.

In Luxembourg, Simitis met with prime minister Jean-Claude Yoonger.

The two men discussed EU issues in view of the inter-governmental summit, which will make changes to the way the EU works.

One main issue is whether the current rule that calls for important decisions to be unanimous, should become majority decisions only. The smaller nations don't want a change there.

Luxembourg takes over the EU's rotating six-month presidency in July.

Simitis briefed his host on Greece's positions on its own issues, and on EU problems.

The Greek leader said they agreed that over the second half of the year, the EU should examine the impact that enlargement of the EU will make. The EU should also look at its future spending and investment plans.


Greece's president says the country's differences with Turkey should be resolved without Greece ceding any of its sovereign rights.

Kostis Stephanopoulos spoke in Evros, near the Turkish border in northeastern Greece.

In Paris, the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers talked, on the sidelines of the Western European Union conference.

Entering the neutral zone at the border near Evros, Greek president Kostis Stephanopoulos greeted Turkish policemen.

Stephanopoulos said Greece's differences with Turkey should be resolved, but without Greece making any concessions where its sovereign rights are concerned.

That is a point the Greek government has repeatedly made.

In Paris for a Western European Union conference, Greek foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos met with Turkish opposite number Tansu Ciller.

Ciller told the press she'd discussed the much- discussed Greek-Turkish experts committees with Pangalos.

Two Greeks and two Turks will report on Greek- Turkish differences to the European Union. Ciller said she and Pangalos agreed that the two committees should meet in late June. Until now, Pangalos has been opposed to a direct meeting, if the initial reports don't produce common ground between the two sides.

New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis says the government, in agreeing to the committees, is sliding into an unconditional dialogue with Turkey. He adds that the government is preparing to make concessions to Turkey.

The government says that the committees are non- binding, and that Greece will not allow Turkey to make its claims on Greece's sovereign rights, bi- lateral issues.

In Paris, Ciller said she believes that the main problem between the two countries is political. She told reporters that the Greek and Turkish people are very close to each other. "We have similar cultures", she said, "but there is a lack of dialogue. The better we get to know each other, the better able we'll be to overcome our problems".

Pangalos said their meeting had been of a social nature, and that no issues of substance were touched on.


Cypriot president Glafcos Clerides was hospitalised Tuesday morning with minor heart problems.

Doctors in Nicosia said that he's in good health, and there's nothing to worry about.

Clirides had a cardiogram, and his heart was probed with a catheter.

Doctors found deterioration of the coronary blood vessels, and prescribed treatment, but they also said the damage they found is not unusual in a 78- year-old person.

Among the Cypriot politicians to visit Clirides were parliament president Spyros Kyprianou.


Researchers in Crete have come up with a small, portable device that helps doctors diagnose illnesses on the basis of a patient's cough.

The unique device is already being at the university medical clinic in Crete.

The diagnostic tool enables doctors to cut out a number of medical exams in trying to find out what's wrong with their patient.

The machine records the sound of a cough and sends the data to a computer for analysis.

Researcher Vlassis Ladopoulos says the device, fitted with a special microphone and a sound filter, can record a cough for 24 hours.

Pulmonary specialist Dimosthenis Bouros says the patient just wears the machine for a day, and the computer does the rest.

The device can tell whether a cough is provoked by asthma, bronchitis, rhinitis, or even digestive tract disease, giving doctors valuable clues as to the nature of the problem.

© ANT1 Radio 1997

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