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Athens News Agency Bulletin, February 13, 1995

(Apo to Ellnviko Grafeio Tupou kai Plnroforiwv, Ottawa, Canada

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  • [1] Presidential election swings into gear, as ND Political Spring announce their candidates for president

  • [2] Venizelos, Michaelides meet in Paris

  • [3] Gov't: no comment on reports of presidential disagreement

  • [4] Yugoslav press welcomes Greek initiative to work towards lifting sanctions on Belgrade

  • [1] Presidential election swings into gear, as ND Political Spring announce their candidates for president

    Athens, 13/02/1995 (ANA)

    The two main opposition parties announced their preferred candidates for President of the Republic yesterday, signalling an important turn in events leading to the election of a new president in the spring.

    Main opposition New Democracy party announced the candidacy of party deputy and former Parliament President Athanassios Tsaldaris while the Political Spring party announced it would back statesman Costis Stephanopoulos. The government's candidate has yet to be announced.

    Commenting on the opposition parties' candidates in an interview with Mega TV network, Press and Media Under-Secretary Telemahos Hytiris said the process on the candidacy ruling party PASOK will support has not yet been completed. "It is underway. It will be completed in mid-week and will be announced by the prime minister and president of PASOK," he said.

    Speaking to the Antenna TV network, PASOK Central Committee Secretary-General Akis Tsohatzopoulos said "the submission of proposed candidates for the Presidency of the Republic by Political Spring and New Democracy today signals, even unofficially, the start to the proposals procedure on the institutional election of the President of the Republic." "We also will submit our proposal by about mid-week," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos added.

    New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert announced Athanassios Tsaldaris' candidacy at 7 p.m. yesterday. In a statement broadcast by TV and radio networks, Mr. Evert insisted on early elections, saying the primary issue was the country being rid of a non-existent and dangerous government. However, he said, respecting institutions, ND nominated Athanassios Tsaldaris, a politician with the necessary character and experience, he said, for the post.

    Mr. Evert said the possible 30 days of a pre-election period would be less costly for the country than the present government remaining in power for the rest of its term. Stressing that ND could not block the election of a President of the Republic, Mr. Evert said backstage talks, negotiations, petty partisan interests and the will of "circumstantial partners" (meaning PASOK and Political Spring) having a total of 181 deputies in Parliament will determine whether the country would be led to early elections or not.

    He said ND would not participate in any backstage or other discussion on the election of a President. Mr. Evert did not clarify whether ND would adhere to Mr. Tsaldaris' candidacy in all phases of the presidential election process and particularly in the event parliamentary elections interceded.

    Visibly moved, Mr. Tsaldaris accepted the candidacy and said it was a great honour for him. Mr. Tsaldaris said the candidacy highlighted a political course followed with seriousness, a sense of national responsibility and parliamentary character.

    Mr. Tsaldaris, son of former prime minister and leader of the Popular Party Constantine Tsaldaris, was born in Athens in 1921. He studied law and economics at Athens University and continued his education at Columbia University in New York. He speaks English, French and German.

    He is married to Pandora Papadatou and has a daughter. He was elected Parliament President on July 4, 1989 and again on November 21, 1989 and April 22, 1990. He has served as Under-Secretary to the President, Communications Under-Secretary and Social Services Under-Secretary. He has been elected to Parliament 10 times in his political career, the first time in 1963 with the National Radical Union (ERE).

    Earlier, ND Deputy President Ioannis Varvitsiotis told a press conference in Iraklion he would not be a candidate for the presidency, saying "I do not have the right to choose a personal path." "My conscience imposes on me to stand in the front line of battle," Mr. Varvitsiotis said. He had arrived in Iraklion to present his party's proposal on the amendment of the Constitution.

    Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras announced the candidacy of Costis Stephanopoulos after a brief session of the party's Parliamentary Group. The party, he said, would support Mr. Stephanopoulos in the first three ballots conducted by the present Parliament.

    Mr. Samaras said Mr. Stephanopoulos was respected by all parties, adding that his candidacy "allowed for an easy release of party leaderships from futile party partisanship." In a long speech, Mr. Samaras criticised both PASOK and ND for being responsible for the present prolonged crisis the country was experiencing. He said the two "old" parties were not interested in the anxiety felt by Greeks but for the alternate enjoyment of power and its prerogatives.

    Mr. Samaras criticised Mr. Evert in particular for announcing the candidacy of Mr. Tsaldaris, which he considered a "lifeboat" to help ND avoid elections. He said with Mr. Stephanopoulos' candidacy, his party was living up to the Constitution's paramount mandate for a consensus in the election of a President of the Republic and the profound wish of the Greek people to avoid early elections which could change nothing.

    Costis Stephanopoulos was born in Patras on August 15, 1926. He studied law at Athens University. He speaks English and French and has two sons and a daughter. He joined ND in 1974 and made two unsuccessful bids to become its leader in December 1981 and September 1984. He quit ND in 1985 and on September 6 founded the Democratic Renewal (DHANA) party with nine deputies who also quit ND.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos has served as Minister to the Prime Minister' Office, Social Services Minister, Interior Minister and Commerce Under-Secretary in ND governments. He has been elected to Parliament seven times, the first time in 1964 with ERE and the last time in 1989 with DHANA.

    [2] Venizelos, Michaelides meet in Paris

    Paris, 13/02/1995 (ANA - J. Zitouniati)

    Press and Media Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides met in Paris over the weekend and exchanged views in the presence of Greek Ambassador Dimitris Makris, who is responsible for briefing French Presidency representatives on the issue of Turkey's customs union with the European Union and accession negotiations for Cyprus in light of the decision taken by the Greek government last week.

    A letter by Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou was delivered to French President Francois Mitterrand and Prime Minister Eduard Balladur on Saturday.

    Athens said last week that it had four reservations about a compromise formula worked out by the French presidency that would allow Turkey to sign a customs union with the European Union and set a definite timetable for the beginning of talks for Cyprus' entry to the 15-member bloc. Mr. Venizelos was in constant contact with the prime minister, Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias and European Affairs Minister George Alexander Mangakis.

    Today, Mr. Venizelos will attend a working luncheon given in his honour by the Union of French Diplomatic Reporters and will afterwards leave for Bordeaux to attend a conference on audio-visual means in which central and eastern European countries will participate. Mr. Venizelos will return to Paris tomorrow and to Athens on Wednesday.

    Mr. Michaelides will return to Athens today for talks with Mr. Papandreou at the Maximos Mansion tonight. He will leave for London tomorrow for talks with his British counterpart Douglas Hurd.

    [3] Gov't: no comment on reports of presidential disagreement

    Athens, 13/02/1995 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos Saturday refused to comment on reports claiming that President of the Republic Constantine Karamanlis had disagreed with the government's handling of the issue of Turkey's customs union with the European Union.

    "The conversations between the prime minister and the President of the Republic are known only to themselves. The constitution works impeccably. Everything functions within its framework and as you know the government never makes statements or comment s on the meetings between the two men," he said.

    [4] Yugoslav press welcomes Greek initiative to work towards lifting sanctions on Belgrade

    Belgrade, 13/02/1995 (ANA)

    The Yugoslav press has praised Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic's visit to Greece and talks with his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias in Thessaloniki, highlighting the Greek initiative to have the issue of the lifting of sanctions by Greece and other Balkan countries raised at the Security Council.

    Yugoslav newspapers gave prominent front-page coverage to statements by Mr. Papoulias and Mr. Jovanovic at a press conference in Thessaloniki, while initial reactions in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) were interesting.

    According to the Belgrade-based B-92 Radio, the sole station to broadcast reactions from FYROM, Mr. Jovanovic's statements in Thessaloniki showed the recognition of FYROM by New Yugoslavia would be delayed. FYROM gave its own interpretation of Mr. Jovanovic's new proposal for recognition, namely the right of New Yugoslavia to be the continuation of former Yugoslavia in exchange for the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and FYROM.

    According to sources close to the FYROM government invoked by B-92 Radio, this proposal constituted blackmail towards FYROM and, according to assessments by the same sources, it was unacceptable that Belgrade should seek the exclusive right for the continuation of former Yugoslavia at a time when all former Yugoslav republics were contesting their share in talks on the issue at a special committee of the Conference on the Yugoslav issue in Geneva. According to the same reports, FYROM and Slovenia, which object to Belgrade's claim, might possibly quit the Conference.

    The Yugoslav Foreign Ministry was aware of FYROM's position before Mr. Jovanovic visited Greece who, according to assessments by local diplomatic circles, told his Greek interlocutors in Thessaloniki that his recent statements on the FYROM issue did not deviate from Yugoslavia's official position, that is that the process of mutual recognition between Belgrade and FYROM would not go ahead unless progress was achieved in relations between Greece and FYROM.

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