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Vol 3, No 23
25 June 2001
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News from Greece News from

All the important news
since 16 June

Konstantinos Louridas


PASOK meeting

Prime Minister Constantine Simitis demanded more efficiency from his ministers during a meeting of PASOK's (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) ministerial committee. In Simitis opinion, the government should not give the impression that it has loosened up during the summer, particularly in sectors that affect everyday life. According to many important members of PASOK, what prevails is that PASOK should not lose its close relationship with society. More specifically, according to the Minister of Internal Affairs Vaso Papandreou, "we will do our best to maintain this close relationship between the government and society."

"The government will become stronger after this meeting. We have to support the policies that we follow, as well as the president of the party, in order to succeed at the following elections of 2004" were the words of the minister of Economics, Yiannos Papantoniou. Government spokesman Dimitris Repas commented that there are solutions to all problems.

To follow, Prime Minister Simitis had a prearranged meeting with Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Vaso Papandreou and Minister of Public Order Michalis Chrisohoidis. No comments were made regarding this meeting between the two ministers and the Prime Minister, but according to sources, matters regarding public order were discussed. The commander of the Secret Intelligence Agency (Greek Information Agency—EIP) Pavlos Apostolidis also took part in the meeting.

Prime Minister Simitis achieved unity inside the party by threatening that "either we are going to agree on arranging the party Summit earlier than previously decided or we will come across new difficulties." Yet, according to many analysts, those comments made by Simitis meant that had things not gone the way he desired, he would have been forced to resign. His resignation would have meant that the country had to have new elections.

Clear evidence of the importance of the situation is the fact that Simitis was forced to cancel his planned official visit to China. The cancellation has given birth to new rumors regarding a possible reshuffling of the government, although the Prime Minister denied any possibilities of a political reshuffling. For Simitis, "today's political situation threatens the internal harmony of the state. A clear solution is needed."


Greek military support for FYROM

Greece has expressed its readiness to contribute to the peace force to be sent to the FYROM and supply a battalion, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Panos Beglitis. Beglitis clearly stated that although the negotiations regarding military help have not ended yet, this battalion would aid the course of the political dialogue in the FYROM, a political dialogue that has been driven to a dead end. In this context, the minister of Foreign Affairs, George Papandreou, had a telephone conversation with Javier Solana, the high representative responsible for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Solana was expected to arrive in the FYROM for a new round of negotiations with the leaders of all political forces and with President Boris Trajkovski, in an attempt to give a boost in the negotiations.

Regarding the question of whether the European Union is in favor of the participation of Albanian rebels in the negotiations, Beglitis responded that the Union disagrees with their participation. Up to now France, Great Britain, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, Greece, Turkey and the US have expressed their intention to participate in this peace force, which would not be connected to KFOR. It is an ad hoc peace force with two main goals: to supervise the cease-fire and to assist the disarmament of the paramilitary Albanian troops, as Panos Beglitis pointed out.


Mitsotakis interview with NET

In an interview he gave to state television channel NET, the former president of Nea Democratia, Constantine Mitsotakis, argued that the party would be harmed by the return of Adonis Samaras. For reasons of ethics and of political practice the return of Samaras could not be accepted, as he is considered to be responsible for the overthrowing of the Nea Democratia government back in 1993. At the same time, he expressed his readiness to run for the presidency of the country. He would be glad to do so if the president was directly elected by the people or if Nea Democratia was going to put his name forward.

He also referred to the local elections and made it absolutely clear that these elections do have a political meaning—and an important one indeed. Still, being political is a totally different thing from party partisanship and party loyalty. When asked if his daughter—the well-known Greek politician Dora Bakogiani—will run for the post of Mayor of Athens, he replied that she has her own political personality. She is totally independent. She seems to be interested in the position, but has not yet decided.

Commenting on opinion polls conducted by MRB, he said that it is almost impossible to reverse the facts, as the government is not practicing any serious politics, but it is continuously sinking. He did not exclude the possibility of early elections, as the country has reached a dead end. PASOK's further staying in government, he said, would only make things worse. He also accused Prime Minister Simitis of populism and of bringing back to life the hatred of the past, then criticized him for his tactics on the reforms of the insurance policy by describing him as a bad Prime Minister who avoids dialogue with the unions, a tactic that he uses for all the problems that he faces. A solution, he said, should be found to the insurance problem in Greece.

Finally, addressing the phenomenon of Albanian nationalism, Mitsotakis characterized it as the biggest problem in the region. He pointed out that if Albania demands a redrawing of the borders in Kosovo and the FYROM, Greece should do the same in Northern Epirus. For him, the government's claim that Greece has a powerful role in the region is for the naïve.

Konstantinos Louridas, 22 June 2001

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