Central Europe Review Call forpolicy proposals...
Vol 3, No 17
14 May 2001
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News from Greece
All the important
news since 5 May 2001

Konstantinos Louridas


Simitis-Tsochatzopoulos meeting in Berlin

Prime Minister Constantine Simitis met Minister of Defence Akis Tsochatzopoulos in Berlin on Tuesday. There are rumours that Prime Minister Simitis intended to calm the tensions inside the ruling PASOK (Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement). Furthermore, he stated that journalists should not consider each meeting that he has with his ministers as "hot news"—it is natural for a Prime Minister to meet the members of his government. He also insisted that the reason for this meeting was to talk about the Convention of the European Socialist Party, of which Akis Tsochatzopoulos is the vice-president.

Earlier, Akis Tsochatzopoulos was asked about the tensions that exist inside PASOK. He stated clearly that something has to change: "We should approach the situation with realism and understanding. Decisions should not be taken without the mandate of the people. We, as the government, and the rest of the political parties should start a dialogue within society."


Pope's visit to Greece

With a warm handshake, the Archibishop of Athens, Christodoulos Paraskevaides, and of all of Greece, welcomed the Pope in the Archdiocese. This handshake was considered by many as a good sign. The conclusion was that the hatred between the two Churches is beginning to disappear. Nevertheless, future difficulties are not ruled out.

In the Archbishop's speech, he mentioned the apathy of the Holy See in the issue of Cyprus; he asked for tolerance from those members of the public against the Pope's visit; and he asked the Pope to apologise for the misfortunes of Orthodox Greeks caused by the Catholic Church. The Pope did apologise. The Archbishop applauded the Pope when he had wished, in Greek, for God to bless Greece. The first visit of a Pope to Greece since the eighth century proved to offer promise for the future relationship between the two Churches.


Does the political past still divide Greece?

Comments by Prime Minister Simitis at a Conference organised by the Youth organisation of PASOK regarding the political history of Greece prompted Constantine Karamanlis, nephew of the well-know Greek politician, to react stongly.

The Prime Minister argued that the fact that not everything is perfect in Greece is due to the fact that Greece was left far behind the rest of its counterpart states of the European Union. He stated: "... did any of the rest of the member states have a fascist dictatorship thirty years ago. None of the EU states has ever had such a poor record of democracy. Is it encouraging for Greece that totalitarianism was evident in the practice of Greek politics for many years? Democracy has been established in the whole of the country at 1981."

Simtis commented that those who blame PASOK, which has been in power since 1981, for all the misfortunes of Greek political life, are unfamiliar with the term "social evolution." No society can be built in twenty years. It is not easy to erase one hundred years of oppression and totalitarianism. It is left to the young to change the legacy of a trouble history and create an open and powerful Greece.

The leader of the conservative News Democracy Party (ND), Konstandinos Karamanlis, in Belgrade for an official visit, reacted swiflty. He argued that Simitis referred to ghosts of the past, a common practice for those without a future: "The preaching of Simitis attempts to divide Greeks. His insecurity leads him to harm Greece."

The Representative of the Government, Dimitris Reppas, disputed Karamanlis's arguments. For him, Karamanlis, after his momentous failure in the elections of 2000, felt the urge to criticise the Prime Minister.

Theodoros Roussopoulos, the spokesman for the press for New Democracy, replied: "...Mr Reppas' comments are evident of the fact that the government he represents, once again, is remaining faithful to its arrogance."


Justification for Cyprus?

A verdict of the European Court of Human Rights has condemned the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Both Greece and Cyprus have welcomed this decision. The spokesman of the Greek government characterised the decision as of great historical importance because it accepts the violation of human rights, including the right of property, ownership and security.

President of Cypriot Democracy Glavkos Kliridis stated that property restitution would support their diplomatic position, and that property should be returned to Greek Cypriots. The Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giannaki Kasoulidi, commented that this would be a tremendous decision to make. All the political parties of Cyprus expressed their satisfaction with these relations.

The reaction of the Turkish government was to insist that the condemnation lacked any juridical foundation. Turkey said that it would not assist in the resolution of the Cyprus issue. The problem in Cyprus could only be resolved with a dialogue between the two communities.

Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs George Papandreou, son of Andreas, welcomed this decision. For him, this is very good for the advancement of Greek diplomacy and for the process of negotiating the future of Cyprus.

Konstantinos Louridas, 11 May 2001

Moving on:


Athens News Agency
To Vima
Ta Nea



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