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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-04-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 23/04/1998 (ANA)


  • Greece mourns Constantine Karamanlis
  • Private funeral for Karamanlis tomorrow
  • PM Costas Simitis pays tribute to Karamanlis
  • Greek politicians send condolences
  • Foreign leaders hail Karamanlis
  • President cuts short Hungarian visit
  • Gov't opposes Dayton-process for Cyprus
  • Arson attack on Jewish group
  • New OTE share float
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Greece mourns Constantine Karamanlis

Elder statesman Constantine Karamanlis, the former prime minister and president who guided Greece into the European Community membership, died early today of a heart attack. He was 91.

Karamanlis, who was hospitalised two weeks ago with a lung infection, suffered a sudden relapse and died of a heart attack without recovering consciousness.

The elder statesman, whose political career spanned five decades, founded the New Democracy party following his triumphant return to Greece from self- imposed exile in Paris in the wake of the collapse of a seven-year military dictatorship in July 1974.

Karamanlis, who served as his country's prime minister four times and was twice head of state, ordered a referendum in December 1974 in which 70 percent of the electorate voted for the abolition of the monarchy and the setting up of a presidential republic in its stead.

Karamanlis was born in 1907 in Proti (formerly Kiupkoi) near Serres, northern Greece, the first of four sons and three daughters of George, a teacher and later tobacco grower, and Fotini, nee Dologlou.

He graduated from the Athens University Law School in 1929 and elected to parliament for the first time in 1935 as an MP for the Peoples Party from the Serres region. In October 1955, Karamanlis became prime pinister for the first time, having been given the mandate to form a government by King Paul.

Karamanlis went into self-exile in Paris after his party failed to win re- election but triumphantly returned to Greece on the night of July 23, 1974, after the fall of the 7-year colonels' dictatorship in the country.

He formed a National Unity government the next day, and established the New Democracy party in September, winning 54% of the vote and in which he was elected MP for the Athens A' district. He also legalised the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in September, while a December referendum abolished the monarchy and established a presidential democracy.

He remained Prime Minister until May 1980, when he resigned after Parliament elected him President of the Republic in the third round of voting and he was succeeded by George Rallis as ND leader and Premier.

He remained in the Presidency until 1985, when he was succeeded by Supreme Court judge Christos Sargzetakis, and was re-elected to the Presidency in 1990. At the expiry of his term in 1995, Karamanlis retired from public affairs and was succeeded by Kostis Stephanopoulos.

Private funeral for Karamanlis tomorrow

Constantine Karamanlis will be buried Friday afternoon at the Aghia Filothei chapel in the Athens suburb of Filothei, at a service attended by close family and friends, in accordance with the deceased's wishes, sources close to the family said. Also in compliance with Karamanlis' final wishes, entrusted in writing to his close associate Petros Molyviatis, the late statesman's body will not lie in state, no funeral orations will be delivered, and he will be buried on the premises of the Constantine Karamanlis Foundation in Filothei.

The funeral service, which begins at 6:00 p.m., will be broadcast live on state television network ET, by decision of the Karamanlis family.

PM Costas Simitis pays tribute to Karamanlis

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the late statesman "left his indelible seal on Greece over the last five decades, and played a leading role in the bloodless transition from dictatorship to democracy by restoring democratic institutions and establishing equality before law for all Greeks."

Simitis said that "Karamanlis' tireless efforts in guiding Greece to the European Union, placed the country in the position it deserved within the family of the European states."

"Karamanlis broke Greece's international isolation resulting from the seven- year dictatorship and broadened its international horizons. He substantially contributed in normalising Greece's relations with its Balkan neighbours consolidating a climate of peace, friendship, stability and cooperation in the wider region."

"For a decade," Simitis went on, "Karamanlis, as a president of the republic attached particular importance both in the country's international relations and domestic politics."

"The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), the government and I personally pay our utmost homage to him, the politician who dominated the country's post-war history".

Greek politicians send condolences

President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos expressed deep grief over the death of Constantine Karamanlis, which he said was shared by all the Greek people and his friends and old foes alike, since "I believe that there are no longer adversaries of his".

He said that Karamanlis had contributed "invaluable services" during his many decades as a leading figure in Greece's political life, and had "championed the country's economic development and cemented the modern democracy form of government".

Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos said that "the leading personality who put his seal on our era is no longer with us".

Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Konstantopoulos said Karamanlis had been at the forefont of the country's public life for more than half a century.

During Karamanlis' two lengthy stints in government, Konstantopoulos said, his policies drew intense negative criticism in the first eight-year period and recognition in the period following the restoration of democracy after the fall of the military junta.

Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, in a statement, said that Karamanlis, "as all great politicians, was characterised by his intense and constant presence at the centre of the major events and developments that determined the nation's course during the second half of the century".

Ruling PASOK Central Committee secretary Costas Skandalidis said that the Greek people today were "bidding farewell with respect to the presence, stature and contribution of a leader who put his mark, for half a century, on the course of the country and its political affairs".

Foreign leaders hail Karamanlis

The news of the death of Constantine Karamanlis drew tributes from prominent figures from around the world. A telegram from European Commission President Jacques Santer expressing condolences noted that Karamanlis had dominated the Greek political scene for the second half of the century.

Reviewing his long political career, Santer said Karamanlis had played a decisive role in the 50s in speeding up Greece's economic development following the devastation of the Second World War and bloody civil war.

Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides stressed Karamanlis' decisive role in formulating a strategy on Cyprus, since the beginning of the EOKA struggle for freedom from British colonial rule, in 1955.

"Europe is mourning together with Greece over the loss of a great politician," the President of the European Peoples' Party, Wilfred Martens said in a statement.

Martens described Karamanlis as a politician with great vision who governed Greece for decades with "decisiveness, honesty and devotion".

Former British premier Lord Callaghan in a telegram expressed his deep respect for Karamanlis. "... Karamanlis' wise and steadfast leadership led to the restoration of democracy (in Greece) and the consolidation of peace, despite the great challenges. He offered exceptional services to his country and to Europe," Callaghan said, expressing his hearfelt condolences.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard in a telegram to Premier Costas Simitis said that Greece and the rest of the world would remember Karamanlis in particular for his role in restoring democracy in Greece after the military dictatorship.

President cuts short Hungarian visit

President Kostis Stephanopoulos will cut short his official visit to Hungary to attend the funeral of the late Constantine Karamanlis tomorrow evening, according to an ANA dispatch from Budapest. Stephanopoulos was on an official visit to the central European country, accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas. He met with his Hungarian counterpart Arpad Goncz and Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn yesterday.

Gov't opposes Dayton process for Cyprus

The government said today that it was opposed to the idea of a Dayton-type conference on the Cyprus problem in reply to reporters' questions following recent speculation in the Greek press.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Athens believed a proposal for such a conference would not be constructive and would not facilitate efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem.

Arson attack on Jewish group

Two makeshift bombs exploded today in the building housing the main offices of the Central Jewish Council in Athens, causing fire, some material damage but no injuries. The Jewish Council offices are housed on the sixth floor of an apartment building on the corner of Sourmeli and Acharnon streets in downtown Athens.

One bomb was placed on the stairs between the fifth and sixth floors and the other in the elevator, the attackers having calculated the time needed for it to reach the sixth floor.

The elevator door is exactly opposite the entrance of the Jewish Council offices.

New OTE share float

Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) will float 10-15 percent of its stock on the Athens Stock Exchange in the autumn, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said today.

He was speaking after a meeting with Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis, Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and senior OTE executives.

The float, which is the third for the state telecom on the bourse's main market, is slated for September or October, Papantoniou said.


Mostly cloudy weather is forecast for northern Greece today with a possibility of showers in the northeast of the country. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki.


Wednesday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 308.452 British pound 516.296 Japanese yen(100) 236.007 French franc 51.346 German mark 172.072 Italian lira (100) 17.411 Irish Punt 433.702 Belgian franc 8.336 Finnish mark 56.730 Dutch guilder 152.837 Danish kr. 45.146 Austrian sch. 24.474 Spanish peseta 2.027 Swedish kr. 40.214 Norwegian kr. 41.495 Swiss franc 207.497 Port. Escudo 1.678 AUS dollar 200.696 Can. dollar 215.264 Cyprus pound 586.292


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