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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-12

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 12/10/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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- partisan campaign.

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 12.65 percent.

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 elections.

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 sides.

"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 elections.

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 this Sunday.

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 said.

Mr. Constantopoulos said that the main political problem will be the way with which the parties will face the new strong challenges and these messages.

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 not rejoice.

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 told reporters.

"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 operations.

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 military positions.

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.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(L.G.)


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