Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-12
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 12/10/1998 (ANA)
- Athens mayor re-elected in first round, run-offs for others
- Premier says government firm in its goals
- Avramopoulos thanks Athenians for his landslide victory
- Tsohatzopoulos optimistic NATO intervention will be averted
- Greek PM, FM to attend Balkan summit in Turkey
- Two detained foreign women give police the slip
- Hostage grenade victim buried
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Athens mayor re-elected in first round, run-offs for others
Incumbent Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos was re-elected in the first
round of nationwide municipal and prefectural elections yesterday.
According to collective results at 6:00 am today, he garnered around 57.68
percent of the vote and 25 seats on the city's municipal council, well
ahead of the other contenders.
Mr. Avramopoulos, although officially supported by main opposition New
Democracy party and the ND splinter party Political Spring, ran a non-
Maria Damanaki, supported by the ruling PASOK party and opposition
Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) party came second with
16.35 percent and 7 seats, while dissident PASOK candidate and former
Athens mayor Dimitris Beis, who was backed by the PASOK splinter party
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI), received 12.68 percent and 5 seats.
Leon Avdis, supported by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and by leftist
and ecological organisations, received 10.36 percent and four seats.
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
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
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.
Premier says government firm in its goals
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
"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
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
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."
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.
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
Mr. Constantopoulos said that the main political problem will be the way
with which the parties will face the new strong challenges and these
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
Mr. Tsovolas said that the major conclusion of yesterday's elections was
the condemnation of PASOK's "neo-liberal government policy".
Avramopoulos thanks Athenians for his landslide victory
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".
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".
Tsohatzopoulos optimistic NATO intervention will be averted
Greek defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos 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
"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
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.
Greek PM, FM to attend Balkan summit in Turkey
A Balkan summit will convene in Antalya, Turkey, today overshadowed by
developments in Kosovo and NATO threats for air strikes against Serb
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.
Two detained foreign women give police the slip
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.
Hostage grenade victim buried
Amalia Ginaki, the 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.
Matei 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.
Light cloud is forecast throughout the country Monday, with possibility of
drizzle in western and northern areas. Winds southwesterly, light to
moderate. Athens will be overcast, turning cloudy in the afternoon with
drizzle, and temperatures ranging from 18-29 C. The same in Thessaloniki,
with temperatures between 16-23 C.
Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 280.220
British pound 478.045 Japanese yen (100) 237.450
French franc 51.191 German mark 172.631
Italian lira (100) 17.349 Irish Punt 428.941
Belgian franc 8.318 Finnish mark 56.405
Dutch guilder 152.208 Danish kr. 45.130
Austrian sch. 24.392 Spanish peseta 2.021
Swedish kr. 35.500 Norwegian kr. 37.597
Swiss franc 211.688 Port. Escudo 1.669
Aus. dollar 171.601 Can. dollar 182.111
Cyprus pound 584.288