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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-11-02

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Primary shareholder bill approved

  • [01] Primary shareholder bill approved

    The new primary shareholder bill was approved by Parliament on Wednesday despite the absence of main opposition PASOK MPs, who walked out of the debate protesting the government's decision to push the bill through using emergency procedures.

    The bill overrides previous laws and aims to limit the rights of owners of mass media enterprises to take on public-sector contracts. The measures are designed to prevent the media from exerting undue influence on the award of state contracts and also extend to the next of kin of people owning up to 1 per cent of a media enterprise.

    The previous primary shareholder laws 3310/2005 and 3021, the latter passed by PASOK in 2002, were judged by the European Commission to be incompatible with fundamental European directives and treaties and were suspended.

    The new law, which the European Commission has found to be in compliance with EU legislation, does not automatically assume a conflict of interest when a media owner or shareholder bids for a public contract; a conflict of interest exists when the bidder has exercised undue influence in winning the contract.

    Reactions

    Ruling New Democracy Rapporteur Christos Zois called the revised law "a government success," citing the European Commission's initial objections and subsequent agreement to the revised bill.

    He called on the main opposition PASOK Party "to learn how a determined stance can persuade the European Commission."

    PASOK MP Telemachos Hytiris did not view the law as a success on the government's part, but rather as a failure to pass a law that would deal with corruption and graft, saying it was a law "without bite."

    Communisty Party of Greece (KKE) MP Liana Kanelli was caustic in her criticism of both ND and PASOK, saying "the two major parties are arguing over how they will cross out Article 14, clause 9 of the Greek constitution: by using white out or black ink."

    "The law goes against the Constitution. We destroyed the Constitution on the orders of low-level officials in Brussels," she said.

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) MP Fotis Kouvelis agreed with Kanelli, saying the law is tantamount to "the political ridiculing of the Constitution," adding that "all 'conflict of interest' provisions are being voided."

    He also criticised PASOK, saying "it did not clarify which law it supports."

    Main opposition walks out of debate

    Main opposition PASOK walked out of the debate in Parliament, in protest over the government's decision to push the bill through using emergency procedures.

    On Tuesday, PASOK MPs had walked out of the discussion of the revised bill in a Parliamentary Committee for the same reasons.

    The decision was announced by PASOK leader George Papandreou, who said the use of the truncated procedures used for emergency legislation constituted "a gross distortion and trivialisation of the parliamentary process".

    Papandreou was also scathing about the draft bill itself, saying it amounted to "absolute zero" and "buried the previous law".

    At the same time, he admitted that the clause in the Greek Constitution regarding so-called 'primary' shareholders in the media - though voted on under specific circumstances and with the best intentions - had to be re-examined in light of the new conditions.


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