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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM maintains lead, opinion poll indicates
  • [02] PASOK: 'front' against corruption, yellow journalism
  • [03] 'Serbia has a European prospect'
  • [04] No agreement in FYROM name talks
  • [05] Sunday edition of Athens' dailies

  • [01] PM maintains lead, opinion poll indicates

    A decline in the political strength of the two mainsteam parties -- ruling New Democracy (ND) and main opposition PASOK -- and evolution of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance into a political force to be reckoned with, were indicated in a nationwide telephone opinion poll conducted by Kapa Research, the results of which appeared in the Sunday edition of To Vima newspaper.

    ND, however, maintained a 5.9 percentage point lead over PASOK with respect to voter intent.

    More specifically, regarding voter intent (who they would vote for if general elections were held tomorrow), 29.1 percent of the respondents said they would vote for ND, against 23.2 percent for PASOK, 18.4 percent for SYRIZA, 7.5 percent for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), and 5.1 percent for the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, while 1.8 percent said they would vote for some other party, 2.2 percent opted for a blank or invalid vote, and 12.7 percent said they were undecided.

    Also 73.9 percent of the respondents said they were "not satisfied" with ND's governance of the country, while 87.9 percent were "not satisfied" with PASOK's work as the main opposition party.

    Further, 60.7 percent of the respondents felt that ND's re-election as government was "negative" or "rather negative", while 42.9 percent opined that nothing would have changed if PASOK had won the elections, 28.8 percent felt that things would have been worse if PASOK had won the elections, and 25.3 percent said things would have been better if PASOK had won the elections.

    To another question, 28.2 percent of the respondents expressed belief that with PASOK in government there would be more prospects for improvement of their finances, while 52.7 percent replied that they did not believe their finances would improve with either of the two mainstream parties in government.

    Regarding who was the most suited for prime minister, premier Costas Karamanlis lead with 41.2 percent, followed by PASOK leader George Papandreou with 19.3 percent, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras with 13.1 percent, LAOS leader George Karatzaferis with 4.7 percent, and KKE leader Aleka Papariga 2.4 percent, while 19.3 percent did not answer.

    Concerning the future of the smaller parties, 52.7 percent of the respondents believed that their electoral strength would increase futher, 19.0 percent believed that many voters would return to the two mainstream parties, 17.0 percent believed that the smaller parties' strength would decline because they recieved votes of protest in the last elections but have no platform, and 9.9 percent believed that their strength would remain approximately the same.

    The nationwide poll was conducted by Kapa Research by telephone between February 19-22, on a sampling of 6,379 people.

    [02] PASOK: 'front' against corruption, yellow journalism

    Main opposition PASOK party press spokesman Yannis Ragoussis called for the building of a broad, supra-party front comprising politicians, journalists and citizens against corruption, slander and 'yellow' journalism, in an interview with Eleftheros Typos newspaper appearing in its Sunday edition.

    As for PASOK's strategy with respect to the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance, Ragoussis commented that "the citizens need a responsible, alternative proposal of governnance, and not just voices of protest".

    Regarding high-profile MP and former minister Evangelos Venizelos, who had been a strong critic of PASOK leader George Papandreou after PASOK's defeat in the last general elections and was Papandreou's main contendor for the party leadership in the ensuing internal party election, Ragoussis said he expected of Venizelos and his supporters to do "that which an increasing number are doing every day".

    "We must, all together, contribute to our common effort, to the course towards the future. We must all work together for our country's progress, for a better future for our children," Ragoussis added.

    To another question, he described the account of the New Democracy government's tenure in office as "miserable".

    Caption: PASOK party spokesman Yannis Ragoussis. (ANA-MPA/P. Saitas)

    [03] 'Serbia has a European prospect'

    Belgrade (ANA-MPA/N. Pelpas) -- Serbia has a European prospect, Greece's ambassador in Belgrade Christos Panagopoulos said on Sunday in an interview with the Serbian radio/television station B-92, and stressed that the Greek government has undertaken an initiative for the European integration of all the Balkan countries, among them Serbia.

    The diplomat opined that the solution applied in Kosovo would not serve as the "recipe" for other cases in the Balkans, given that each country had particularities that had no relationship to the Kosovo issue.

    To a comment by a B-92 journalist that, apart from Montenegro and FYROM, Greece too could in the future face problems with the "Albanian minority", Panagopoulos explained that "there is no Albanian minority in Greece".

    "In our country, there are only Albanian economic refugees who came in search of a better life, and there is no fear of vibrations of that kind," the Greek ambassador said, adding that "Greece does not comprise part of the Balkan problem but, rather, a factor for its resolution".

    Asked to comment on the reactions in Serbia following Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, Panagopoulos said that the diplomatic moves by the Serbian government were "expected" and "legitimate", but added that the incidents outside the embassies and more generally in the streets of Belgrade were "unpleasant" and "condemnable".

    To another question on whether Greece would stop issuing visas to Serbian citizens, as some EU member countries have done, the Greek envoy stated that "there is no such thought" and, on the contrary "Greece is preparing to receive more visitors from Serbia this year than last year".

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Greek ambassador to Serbia Christos Panagopoulos.

    [04] No agreement in FYROM name talks

    New York (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou) -- UN special mediator on the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz announced that the rift between Greece and FYROM remained, and that there has been no agreement, but nevertheless the two sides desired continuation of the efforts for finding a solution to the problem, in statements to the press after a two-hour joint meeting at his Manhattan office with the negotiators of the two countries on Saturday.

    Replying to questions, Nimetz said that a new meeting has not been set, adding that the Greek and FYROM negotiators to the UN-mediated name talks, Ambassadors Adamantios Vassilakis and Nikolai Dimitrov respectively, would be returning to their countries.

    He also said that he had not submitted any new proposal or new document during Saturday's meeting, and opined that there would be negative consequences in the region if the name issue was not resolved.

    Saturday's meeting had been preceded by separate meetings with Vassilakis and Dimitrov on Friday, after which he said he had ascertained a "substantive rift".

    Nimetz told reporters that the proposal, or text of ideas, he had submitted to the two sides during talks in Athens on February 19 did not satisfy either side, adding that he did not present any new ideas during Saturday's meeting.

    "The positions are different," he said, noting that "neither side is in a position to say that my proposal is the correct solution, there is still no agreement."

    Nimetz said that the two Ambassadors would return to their countries, and would remain in contact with him.

    He said that no date has been set for a new meeting, but added that both sides desired continuation of the process, "which the consider truly important".

    The UN mediator reiterated that a resolution of the name issue would be of benefit to both countries and to the region, adding that with no solution "the problems will be significant".

    Replying to questions, Nimetz said that "I am a UN negotiator, I have no power here (on the issue), but I think that it is acknowledged in both countries that there will be immense benefits from the achievement of some kind of solution".

    Asked whether the two sides agreed on something, Nimetz stressed that they agree on "mutual respect".

    Nimetz reiterated that he had not presented any new proposal or document, while to a question on whether the time was right to upgrade the talks to ministerial level, the UN envoy noted that "the two ambassadors are experiences, very clear, they have the confidence of their governments, and expressed the views of their governments very well", adding that "I do not seek upgrading, that is a political decision".

    Asked if he desired US assistance to help the situation, Nimetz stated "not only the US, but other countries as well, particularly European countries that are friendly with both sides, must continue to speak with them on the issue and urge them to finding a constructive way to a solution".

    Caption: UN special mediator on the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz (R) and Greece's negotiator Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis. (ANA-MPA/P. Saitas)

    [05] Sunday edition of Athens' dailies

    The FYROM name negotiations, social security reforms, 'cohabitation agreements' and blog blackmail were the main front-page items in Sunday's newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Cohabition Agreeement instead of marriage - Changes to Family Law for couples living together", adding that the justice ministry intented to table in March a draft law introducing cohabitation agreements.

    APOGEVMATINI: "Cohabitation without marriage - Bill to prove legal regulation of the cohabitation of couples that do not wish to enter into marriage".

    AVGHI: "We are open to building a new majority - Interview with SYRIZA parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos".

    AVRIANI: "Greece a money 'laundromat', according to confidential report by American services".

    CHORA: "Retired officers (armed forces, security corps): 4 problems seek solution".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Mammoth-fraud with 1 billion euros in invoices - Economic crimes squad (YPEE) raids on 153 bogus companies controlled by ring of Cypriot businessmen".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Three riddles for one name - The FYROM name issue in the final stretch - Battle over the term 'Macedonia' for its designation and international usage".

    EPOCHI: "Veto on social security reforms - Workers' and pensioners' mobilisations to avert the anti-insurance attack".

    ETHNOS: "The cost of the coal-powered electricity plants - 26 million tons of pollutants and 1 billion euros in fines are the PPC's (Public Power Corporation) 'gift' to consumers".

    KATHIMERINI: "One step before an impasse on the FYROM issue - Strong pressures by US and NATO on Greece and FYROM".

    LOGOS: " 'Substantive rift' between Greece and FYROM".

    NIKI: "Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) 'blogged' - Failure of plan to muzzle the free voices on the Internet".

    PARON (weekly): "PASOK (main opposition party) headed for third place - Opinion polls indicate shock upset".

    PROTO THEMA (weekly): "War in ND (ruling New Democracy party) over slander in the blogs".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "We're forging a broad front against the imperialist interventions - Meeting in Thessaloniki of Balkan peace movements".

    TO VIMA: "Warning bell for the political system - Revealing opinion poll by KAPA RESEARCH: ND 29.1 percent, PASOK 23.2 percent, SYRIZA 18.4 percent".

    VRADYNI: "FYROM name issue: Yes to honorable compromise, no to irregular retreat - Proud NO from Karamanlis - Composite name with geographical determination the only path", adding that the asphyxiating pressure on the Karamanlis government by Americans and EUropeans to bow down to FYROM's intransigence was failing, and that the Greek prime minister had made it clear to all that Greece will not accept a solution (to the FYROM name issue) that does not contain a composite name with a geographical determination.

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