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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-06-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] ND outdistances PASOK by around 3 percentage points in Eyroelections
  • [02] Political leaders vote across Greece
  • [03] Simitis, Karamanlis statements prior to Euroelections results
  • [04] Clinton lauds Greek efforts over recent Balkan crisis
  • [05] Greek contingent expected to depart for Kosovo by Wednesday
  • [06] Cypriot defence minister in Athens this month
  • [07] Illegals, smugglers arrested after passing from Turkey

  • [01] ND outdistances PASOK by around 3 percentage points in Eyroelections

    Athens, 14/06/1999 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) emerged as the winner of the European Parliament elections in Greece yesterday, with 36.44 per cent out of about 56.8 per cent of the counted votes at press time.

    PASOK garnered 33.16 per cent, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) earned 8.56 per cent.

    The Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) posted 6.7 per cent, followed by the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) with 5 per cent.

    Political Spring (Pol.An) and the newly established Liberals Party earned 2.24 and 1.60 per cent, respectively, and by all accounts will not gain a seat in the new Euro-assemby.

    Total turnout at press time totalled 68.02 per cent of the eligible electorate.

    PASOK, which earned 37.6 per cent of the vote and 10 seats during the 1994 Euroelections, loses one seat. New Democracy, however, with 32.6 per cent in 1994 and nine seats remained at the same number of seats. KKE added about 2 percentage points to its 1994 total of 6.29 per cent and will field three Euro-MPs. Synaspismos dropped by more than a percentage point, but is still expected to send two representatives to Brussels, the same as in 1994.

    Pol.An, with 8.67 per cent in 1994, suffered a heavy loss. However, DHKKI, a first-timer in the Euroelections, will send two representatives.

    Political party leaders' statements : Prime Minister Costas Simitis described the result of the poll as "positive," despite the fact that the ruling party failed to achieve its goal of topping the election contest, as he admitted. "The result gives us the right to forge ahead with our task.

    The Euroelections took place in mid-term, with a cost to the government due to the reforms it attempted," he said.

    Nevertheless, he emphasised, the strategy of overturning PASOK failed, and general elections will take place as scheduled in 2000.

    "The government will be judged on its overall record at the end of the four- year term, in 2000. It is committed to implementing the task for which it was elected in 1996 with greater resolve and dynamism," he said.

    Referring to the relatively large percentages of abstentions as well as invalid and blank ballots, the prime minister said these sent a "warning message" to all parties.

    "Opposition leaders have to understand that lack of values and morals, double talk and grey politics are distateful to citizens," he said.

    Karamanlis : The Greek people have responded with a resounding 'No' to the Simitis government and a clear 'Yes' to a fresh start with the New Democracy party, main opposition leader Costas Karamanlis said in a brief statement after early results showed his party in the lead.

    Mr. Karamanlis promised that ND would back the policy of pursuing accession to Economic and Monetary Union, "a goal for all Greeks," and would press for a restriction of "the insatiable public sector" and solutions for dealing with social impasses.

    "When ND comes to power, its first concern will be to provide solutions to people's everyday problems, giving priority to national reconciliation and unanimity, for a Greece with dynamism and humanism," he said.

    Papariga : Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga stated that her party's satisfaction over Euroelections results during an early morning address.

    With about 30 per cent of the vote tallied at the time, and with KKE having taken more than 8 per cent of the nation-wide vote, Ms Papariga said results do not give any party the percentage needed to form a government, should these have been national elections.

    She added that this election, however, is a preliminary contest to next year's national election.

    Ms Papariga pointed to KKE's increased strength in urban areas and among youthful voters.

    Tsovolas : Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas expressed his satisfaction over the results, noting that "those who predicted the end of the parenthesis (DHKKI) which we opened during the last national elections were proven wrong."

    He also accused PASOK's leadership for using what he called tactics reminiscent of a bygone era "but not forgotten" in efforts to damage DHKKI.

    Mr. Tsovolas said DHKKI's aim for next year's national elections will be to transform the party into a movement which can vie for the government.

    He added that the basis of DHKKI's philosophy will be to create a social front against "liberalism", adding that during these Euroelections "a cautious but essential step for the combatting of bi-polarisation was taken."

    Constantopoulos : Coalition for the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos said his party did not meet its set target.

    Mr. Constantopoulos said Synaspismos "had greater goals", adding that "we expected our efforts of the past years would have found greater support."

    He also said Synaspismos will continue its struggle against what he called the country's "major problems", which the "current government policies" are causing.

    Samaras : Political Spring (Pol.An) leader Antonis Samaras stressed that his party's "struggle will continue, and all those who consider the voters of Pol.An an 'easy prey, will be proved wrong" - a direct reference to widespread speculation that the party would dissolve if it failed to gain a seat in the new Euro-assembly.

    Mr. Samaras thanked what he called the "200,000 voters" of his party. Manos The leader of the newly formed Liberals party, Stephanos Manos, noted that the Euroelections results were not particularly "joyful" for the political formation.

    Speaking shortly before midnight, Mr. Manos said that "in every new effort, the first step is the most difficult one.

    "Some 180,000 Greeks dared today (yesterday) and took that first step toward something new," he added.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Political leaders vote across Greece

    Athens, 14/06/1999 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos cast his vote in his home town of Patra at 11 a.m.

    "These elections are for the European Parliament. Let's hope that Europe will follow a course worthy of its history, culture and abilities," he said.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, accompanied by his wife Daphne and Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou, cast their votes at a polling station on central Stadiou Avenue.

    "In these elections today, we vote for Greece's future, for Greece's relationship with Europe, for the Europe we want," Mr. Simitis said.

    "The question is: will we cross the finishing line decisively? Will we cross the line without difficulties, doubts, hesitation?

    The president of main opposition New Democracy, Costas Karamanlis, accompanied by his wife Natasha, voted in Thessaloniki at midday but made no statements, as is his practice, to waiting reporters.

    After voting, Mr. Karamanlis and his wife left for Athens, where they awaited results.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga cast her vote at the 998th polling station in Agios Eleftherios, central Athens.

    "Our eyes are on the popular stage, where there are significant changes under way and which will be expressed in the electoral result," she said.

    Voting in the suburb of Exarchia, Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos called on citizens to exercise their right to vote. He predicted that "the heat would have its effect on the two major parties".

    "We should not abstain (from voting) because everybody knows that many things in Greece and Europe need changing and the future will be judged today," he said.

    Dimitris Tsovolas, the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader, expressed his faith in the Greek people, as he noted, after voting.

    "The people have memory and judgement in which I, in my 22 years of political activity, have always depended on," he said. "And today, with its vote, bipolarity will be condemned."

    Liberals party leader Stephanos Manos, a former ND minister, said he was realistic about the chances of his party getting a seat in the European Parliament.

    "I do not have my head in the clouds," Mr. Manos said. "The road to changing Greece is long and difficult and, today, my party is taking the first step."

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos cast his vote yesterday at the 339th polling station in Pangrati and said on leaving that he had done his duty as a "Greek and European citizen".

    "With our vote today (yesterday), we contribute to the future of Europe, which is presently at a bad stage," the Archbishop said.

    "As Greeks, we must contribute to the restoration of cultural values and, with the knowledge that Greece is the spiritual cradle of Europe, our European Parliamentarians must participateIunder the flag of Hellenism and Christianity," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Simitis, Karamanlis statements prior to Euroelections results

    Athens, 14/06/1999 (ANA)

    Sunday's Euroelections are the most crucial ever for Greece, providing voters with the option of backing political forces able to guarantee the country's dynamic future in Europe, with peace, stability and growth, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said in sta tements to ANA on Saturday.

    Referring to the crisis in Yugoslavia, the Greek PM said that through the government's handling, Athens did not only avoid a dangerous entanglement, but laid the basis for an upgraded role in the region.

    "We remain reliable partners and reliable interlocutors of all Balkan countries," he said, adding that "the existence of one and only superpower constitutes a factor of instability."

    Mr. Simitis said the country was in the process of completing a phase of economic and social development with most visible results.

    "Our economy now shows remarkable endurance, rapid improvement and dynamism for the future, and we are in the final stretch for our successful and merited entry to Economic and Monetary Union," he said.

    In his statements to ANA, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis said the poll would amount to a referendum on the government's overall record, in which the electorate would signal its desire for an end to a "malignant political past and a fresh start".

    "Greeks are overcoming the old divisive pseudo-dilemmas and are focusing on the political substance of this election which will determine their future. These Euroelections are a referendum on the present state of politics, on the present conditions whic hare daily bogging down the country," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Clinton lauds Greek efforts over recent Balkan crisis

    Athens, 14/06/1999 (ANA)

    US President Bill Clinton thanked Prime Minister Costas Simitis for Greece's contribution to the final peaceful outcome in the Yugoslavia crisis.

    The US leader also recognised Athens' distinct role, emanating from the country's "double identity" as a Balkan nation and a member of western organisations, the government said yesterday.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced that the contact took place by telephone, at the US president's initiative.

    The two men also discussed issues relating to the reconstruction of Yugoslavia and the Balkans more generally, which Mr. Clinton said he would raise at the G8 conference this weekend, Mr. Reppas said.

    Mr. Simitis urged closer and more credible relations between the US and Russia, he added.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Greek contingent expected to depart for Kosovo by Wednesday

    Athens, 14/06/1999 (ANA)

    Greek troops destined to join the international peacekeeping force in Kosovo are expected to depart by Wednesday at the latest, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Saturday.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the force would be deployed in southern Kosovo, between the German and US sectors.

    The Greek defence minister visited the 501th motorised infantry battalion in Yiannitsa, northern Greece, which will be the first part of the Greek brigade to go to Kosovo.

    The battalion is made up of 450 volunteer officers and non-commissioned officers. Several soldiers in the battalion are veterans of Greek contingents of peace forces in Bosnia and Albania. An engineering and a medical corps battalion will follow.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Cypriot defence minister in Athens this month

    NICOSIA, 14/06/1999 (ANA)

    Cyprus' Defence Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis will be in Athens for talks with his Greek counterpart Akis Tsohatzopoulos on June 21.

    In statements to reporters yesterday, Mr. Chrysostomis said his talks in Athens would be a continuation of previous discussions with Mr. Tsohatzopoulos.

    Athens Naews Agency

    [07] Illegals, smugglers arrested after passing from Turkey

    Athens, 14/06/1999 (ANA)

    Two men will be charged with smuggling illegal immigrants after 19 illegals were discovered in their truck yesterday.

    The two men - Efstathios Feimoglou, 38, and a 16-year-old minor identified only as "H.K." - were reportedly working with a Turkish accomplice near Loutro, Alexandroupoli, police said.

    The 19 illegal immigrants - 11 Iraqis, seven Moroccans and one Palestinian - told police a Turkish national had taken them over the Greek-Turkish border for a fee of $1,500 each.

    All 21 suspects will be brought before a prosecutor today.

    Athens News Agency

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