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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-02-01

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PASOK announces changes at central level
  • [02] Men's volleyball Cup Final postponed after incidents
  • [03] Interior minister on new election law; opposition reaction
  • [04] Crete's farmers set sail for Athens

  • [01] PASOK announces changes at central level

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou has decided to change the way the party functions, at central level, party spokesman George Papaconstantinou said on Sunday. Announcing the changes, he stressed that they were taking place in order to prepare PASOK in light of its assumption of the country's governance.

    According to Papandreou's decision, six 'executive groupings' will be created, in which the party's leading members will participate in accordance with the duties and roles that they had so far and which they will be maintaining.

    The appointments made in the groupings follow the pattern: Political Council, Parliamentary Representatives and political Representatives and reflect the way in which the party's leader is thinking of using PASOK's members as part of a government, if the party wins the next elections.

    Every grouping will be responsible for formulating the party's proposals and priorities, monitoring and assessing government activities in the sector of its duties, highlighting government responsibilities and mistakes and promoting the party's proposals and priorities.

    Their sessions will also be open to senior party officials, such as the PASOK National Council secretary, the party's Parliamentary group secretary and the head of the PASOK president's political office, and MPs assigned to that sector.

    The six groupings are the following: Economy, Citizen-State-Local government, Social Policy, Education-Youth-Culture, Foreign Policy-Defence and Green Development-Environment.

    The economy grouping is expected to hold its first session on Monday under the chairmanship of Papandreou.

    Within the week, possibly on Thursday, Papandreou will be giving a press conference.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of PASOK central headquarters in Athens.

    [02] Men's volleyball Cup Final postponed after incidents

    The men's volleyball Cup Final between Panathinaikos Athens and Olympiakos Piraeus, due to be played in the city of Patra in western Greece on Sunday evening, was postponed after incidents took place both outside and inside the indoor "D. Tofalos" stadium.

    According to a statement by the Federation president, the postponement of the match was decided during a special Federation Executive Committee meeting and the fate of the final will be decided on Monday.

    As regards the runup to the postponing of the match, the players of Olympiakos had taken their positions on the court, but the players of Panathinaikos had refused to come forward unless the stadium was evacuated of spectators.

    The police declared on their part that they would not undertake to evacuate the stadium without the help of Olympiakos's officials, who refused to agree to the evacuation and who promised that the match could be carried out smoothly with the presence of spectators.

    [03] Interior minister on new election law; opposition reaction

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Sunday called on the main opposition PASOK party to agree to bringing forward the implementation of the new election law, making it valid from the next general elections. The law will currently go into force for the elections held immediately after these.

    Pavlopoulos said in a statement that the government's intention is both positive and sincere. He pointed out that in February 2008, during the ratification of the new election law that gives an extra 10-seat bonus to the first party, he had stressed that a stable government is necessary in the present crucial conjuncture.

    The minister also pointed to his statements stressing the need for all to agree and reiterated the same thing now, while adding that it depends on PASOK to help in this direction.

    The votes of 200 deputies in the 300-seat Parliament are required to enable the new law to go into force in the next elections.

    Similar statements had been made to the Sunday newspaper "Vima tis Kyriakis" by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and ruling New Democracy party Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis.

    "Greece does not have the luxury in the difficult international economic and political conjuncture of facing the spectre of the lack of government, of instability and of uncertainty. The political climate being shaped shows that with the existing election laws that are valid for the next elections, Parliamentary majorities will be marginal ones. The political forces must assess the political factors that are being created. I believe that the country needs a strong and effective government and Parliamentary majority," the foreign minister said.

    Bakoyannis also expressed support for the German system and for voting rights for overseas Greeks, as well as for the country's substantive regional reorganisation.

    Zagoritis said, on his part, that "our position is dictated by the need for a strong government, particularly in a period of international economic crisis. Political instability harms the economy, the country and all."

    Replying to Pavlopoulos, main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou ruled out any cooperation on the matter:

    "Mr. Pavlopoulos, with an eye on opinion polls, returns with a proposed election law that New Democracy voted for by itself in Parliament. We will not play this communications game. As we have already promised, after the next elections, as a government, we will submit a new proposal for the election law that will ensure the autonomy of politics," he said.

    The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party's press spokesman Kyriakos Velopoulos and the Eurodeputy of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) Dimitris Papadimoulis both strongly criticised the statement made by Pavlopoulos on the implementation of the election law in the next elections as an attempt to further entrench a two-party system.

    [04] Crete's farmers set sail for Athens

    Farmers from Iraklio and Lasithi on Crete embarked on ferry boats bound for the port of Piraeus late on Sunday night, along with their tractors and pick-up trucks, determined to take their protest to the capital. The passenger ferries "Phaistos Pallas" and "Crete 1" set sail after a delay of roughly one and half hours from Iraklio, after the coast guard and local public prosecutor sought to determine whether it was legal to transport agricultural machinery and tractors on ordinary passenger ferries.

    Amid government appeals that they leave their tractors behind, farmers on Crete had earlier disbanded their five-day road block at Linoperamata and Platani and arranged to meet at the island's port the same evening.

    They plan to arrive in Athens on Monday morning for a protest demonstration outside the agricultural development and foods ministry, where they will also seek to have a meeting with the minister and present their demands.

    From Athens, Deputy Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis appealed to Iraklio farmers to abandon their plans to bring their tractors to Athens, warning that it would result in traffic gridlock that would turn all of Attica against them.

    "I have no right to say that someone does not have the right to make demands, but they must bear in mind, those that create these things, that they will cause a huge problem and bring the entire society of Attica prefecture against them. For this reason I am appealing that they come as individuals, as farmers, to protest and make demands but not with tractors, not cars, not agricultural vehicles," Markoyiannakis stressed.

    In northeastern Serres at the opposite end of Greece, meanwhile, the tractor roadblock at the Promahonas border crossing with Bulgaria was still going strong as it entered its 14th day, with farmers there determined not to give in. The border remained closed apart for one hour after 6:30 in the morning, when trucks carrying perishable products were allowed through.

    The Promahonas road block was one of the last bastions of the farmer protests apart from the one at Nikaia, on the Thessaloniki-Athens national highway near Larisa, where the farmers of Thessaly finally decided to suspend their mobilisation and depart during a meeting on Sunday afternoon.

    They announced that the road block would end in an organised fashion at 10:00 on Monday morning, and that they would meet against at anniversary of the Kileler uprising on March 15.

    With their departure, the farmers of Serres and Iraklio are the last that continue to reject the aid package offered by the government, on the grounds that the aid on offer is being unfairly distributed, while elsewhere around the country protesting farmers have dispersed and gone home.

    In comments on the aid package of 500 million euros that the government offered farmers to support their flagging incomes, which have been slashed by the collapse of global food prices, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis stressed in an interview with the newspaper "Eleftheros Typos" on Sunday that this was "fully compatible with existing Community regulations".

    "Those trying to undermine Greek positions in Brussels offer a bad service," he added, noting that main opposition PASOK was "the big loser of the agricultural mobilisations" and expressing satisfaction that the majority of farmers had trusted him and left the road blocks.

    The minister also dismissed claims that the compensation offered farmers was based on "geographic criteria", stressing that the only criteria had been the true extent of damage suffered by farmers.

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