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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-01-11

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 11/01/1999 (ANA)


  • PASOK Central Committee session ends with high expectations
  • Skandalidis announces ballot results
  • New Democracy reaction
  • Parliament to debate crucial state of education today
  • Pangalos tells chess players of the value of culture
  • Synaspismos rejects PASOK proposal for joint Euroelections ticket
  • Tsovolas slams change in policy on S-300
  • Athens mayor on possibility of new party
  • Fishermen call off strike action
  • Book on the 'Techniques of Alexander the Great'
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


PASOK Central Committee session ends with high expectations

The two-day session of the ruling PASOK party's Central Committee ended on Saturday evening with Secretary Costas Skandalidis saying that the 'Cassandras' predicting a split in PASOK were proved wrong and that the course towards the party's congress in spring will be one of unity, victory and prospects.

The party's meeting debated proposals submitted for the national congress in March.

In his closing address to the session, Prime Minister Costas Simitis charged opposition parties with exhibiting serious irresponsibility, accusing the Communist Party in particular of fomenting continuing unrest among school children with the aim of overturning or obstructing government policy.

"They are promising all things to all people, exhibiting the dramatic irresponsibility which characterises them ... The Communist Party is seeking to foment unrest on the basis of a specific plan, and with the obvious intention of overturning or obstructing government policy. They are not interested in education, but in cutting our course short," he said.

He stressed that such phenomena should not be allowed to hinder Greece's efforts to join European Economic and Monetary Union.

"Given that the majority endorses the efforts towards EMU accession, everyone must reject phenomena such as (the planned) farmers' mobilisations in Thessaly, or the 'fraternal front' of workers, students and farmers on January 15," the premier and PASOK president said.

He reiterated that 1999 would be a year in which the government would complete its main tasks and plans for the future, and appealed for internal party unity in view of the congress.

"Everyone in PASOK should not forget that Greek society is watching us. We have the duty to see what the people expect from us. It is certain they do not consider personal differences a priority, but wish to see solutions to problems," Mr. Simitis stressed.

Defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed the need for important changes in the structure, organisation and functioning of the ruling party, and that an agreement was imperative on the aims of the congress.

He defined these as the strengthening of the party in society and in its internal cohesion, the carving of a course towards the elections for the European and the national parliaments, the formulation of new policies for the new decade, an effective stand vis-a-vis the main opposition New Democracy party, and PASOK's relations with the Left.

Regarding Euroelections, he said that whether the party liked it or not, it was being led to a total stand-off with the opposition, and called for an end to isolated phenomena of defeatism.

A condition for victory in Euroelections, he added, but also in the national elections, which were the main goal, was the enhancement of PASOK's social and political base, and the projection of its visible differences from New Democracy.

Skandalidis announces ballot results

The two-day meeting of the ruling PASOK party's Central Committee ended on Saturday evening with Central Committee Secretary Skandalidis announcing the results of ballots held and saying that the 'Cassandras' predicting a split in PASOK were proved wrong and that the course towards the party's congress in spring will be one of unity, victory and prospects.

The proposal by the President and the Executive Bureau received 86 ballots in favour and 37 against. A proposal by Pantelis Economou received 12 votes. Two more ballots were held. A proposal on the congress' postponement was rejected after receiving only 38 votes, while a proposal not to have bodies elected at the congress was also rejected after mustering only 39 votes.

Closing arguments were completed at about 5 p.m. on Saturday, but strong disagreements were voiced for about two hours on both the content and number of the ballots, while relevant proposals by Mr. Skandalidis had met with procedural objections from abo ut 12 Central Committee members.

New Democracy reaction

The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party said on Saturday that PASOK's central committee meeting showed the ruling party was in disarray and lacked confidence in the government's policies.

"This party is deeply divided. Mr. Simitis himself acknowledged the division through the repeated calls for unity he felt obliged to make," ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said.

"It is tragic for the country that the government is wasting precious time and opportunities by waiting to complete its cycle. Not even the party behind the government believes in its policies," Mr. Spiliotopoulos said.

Parliament to debate crucial state of education today

An extraordinary parliamentary debate on education will be held at party- leader level today. It will be a crucial day as pupils will also hold general assemblies at many schools to decide on whether or not to continue sit-ins and teachers will repeat a two-hour work stoppage.

In another development, pupils, parents and teachers will be jointly organising a concert at the Athens University campus at 1 p.m. and will be holding a protest march to Parliament afterwards.

In statements to the Sunday press, Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis appealed to parents, stressing that margins have been exhausted on his part and pointed out that there is the risk of the school year being lost if mobilisation continues.

Pangalos tells chess players of the value of culture

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, attending the closing ceremony of the 10th international chess tournament in the Ano Liosia municipality last night, spoke of the policy of peace and cooperation followed by the government through culture.

Mr. Pangalos said that only through cooperation among peoples, culture and communication can people prosper. He said he was particularly moved by projects amounting to seven billion drachmas in the park of the city of Ano Liosia where the international tournament was hosted, terming it a paradise. He added that such projects show the result of cooperation among people when they struggle and demand for their children and the generations to come.

The 10th international chess tournament which ended yesterday, started on January 2 and now constitutes an institution of the Ano Liosia municipality and is under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry.

A total of 224 men and women chess players from 17 countries participated in the tournament, while 15 players constitute the elite of the chess world and hold the title of "grand maitre."

Synaspismos rejects PASOK proposal for joint Euroelections ticket

The Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) on Saturday rejected a proposal by ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis for a joint ticket in the June Euroelections.

In a statement, Synaspismos also reiterated prior conditions for a cooperation with the ruling party such as the introduction of the proportional representation system, a change in government policy, and dialogue on possible convergence of positions with a view to forming a coalition government comprising progressive parties.

In his proposal, made in an interview with the "Ependytis" newspaper, Mr. Skandalidis said the two parties did not differ on the issue of the country's European strategy and participation in EMU.

"I am tired of hearing of theoretical discussions on coalitions, rhetorical calls and above all theatrical statements. We have Euroelections before us, there is almost identity of views, so let's collaborate," he said.

He ruled out the simultaneous holding of national and Euroelections, and referring to the electoral system he said that the issue of constitutional revision would be open after the election of the next parliament, when the idea for a more stable and proportional system could mature.

"However, the effort for political convergence through sincere and unconditional dialogue takes precedence before we reach that point," he stressed.

Tsovolas slams change in policy on S-300

Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas said the change in policy by both the Greek and Cypriot governments concerning deployment of the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles in Cyprus and the substantial non-promotion of the unified de fence doctrine paves the way for fait accomplis, namely a confederation in Cyprus, to be accepted under pressure by the same forces which pressured Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.

Mr. Tsovolas, who was speaking at a party conference at a downtown Athens hotel on Saturday, said that such a solution paves the way for the interests of the major powers being served in the Aegean, namely the partitioning of the Aegean.

Mr. Tsovolas denounced the new national withdrawal of both the Greek and Cypriot leaderships which, as he said, leads to new national defeats. He said the government was clearly conservative and termed the ruling socialist PASOK party a conservative, anti-popular and neo-liberal party.

Athens mayor on possibility of new party

Asked to comment yesterday on the possibility of establishing a new party, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos said he will speak "at the appropriate time."

In an interview with the Sunday newspaper "To Vima", Mr. Avramopoulos said that since 1993 onwards and with every opportunity one sees that the political parties appearing after the dictatorship (1967-1974) have closed their biohistorical cycle, signalled primarily by the departure of their historical leaderships.

Mr. Avramopoulos said that at present, what they must do and are rightly attempting is to differentiate themselves from their past selves and adjust to the new factors.

Replying to a relevant question yesterday, Mr. Avramopoulos said that "as you know from my public attitude to date I speak at the appropriate time on everything concerning and directly related to roles and missions assigned to me by my fellow citizens. All that is being written and heard these days do not bear my signature."

Fishermen call off strike action

Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis pledged on Saturday to reform the fisheries sector in legislation that would be ready by the end of May.

Fisheries in the west of the country, including Patras, called off strike action in response to the pledge.

Book on the 'Techniques of Alexander the Great'

The Technical Chamber has circulated a book by Grigoris Zorzos titled "The techniques of Alexander the Great", which has received a favourable response by various university agencies in Greece.

The 368-page book, covering a big vacuum in both Greek and international literature, contains a collection of data concerning the economic and technical factors in Alexander the Great's campaign.

Mention is also made of scientific works made by researchers, historians and economic and technical experts during the campaign or after.


Partly cloudy weather is forecast for most parts of the country today with showers likely in the west. Winds southerly, moderate to strong. Temperatures in the north are expected to range from 0-13C; in the rest of the mainland 2-18C; and in the islands 9-18C. Athens will be cloudy with temperatures from 8-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with the possibility of rain and temperatures between 4-11C.


Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 275.746 Pound sterling 453.086 Japanese yen (100) 246.214 French franc 49.013 German mark 164.384 Italian lira (100) 16.604 Irish Punt 408.230 Belgian franc 7.970 Finnish mark 54.074 Dutch guilder 145.894 Danish kr. 43.204 Austrian sch. 23.365 Spanish peseta 1.932 Swedish kr. 35.156 Norwegian kr. 37.478 Swiss franc 199.094 Port. Escudo 1.604 Aus. dollar 174.438 Can. dollar 181.754 Cyprus pound 551.552


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