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Antenna: News in English (PM), 98-02-04

Antenna News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Antenna Radio <> - email:

Last Updated: Wednesday, 04-Feb-98 12:52:32


  • [01] New Democracy
  • [02] Parliament
  • [03] MItsotakis
  • [04] Simitis
  • [05] Farmers
  • [06] Soccer

  • [01] New Democracy

    Seven New Democracy MPs were under threat of expulsion from the party Tuesday night.

    New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis sent them all to the party's disciplinary committee requesting their expulsion, after they failed to tow the party line in a parliamentary vote Monday night.

    Karamanlis said that through their action, the seven had effectively placed themselves outside the party, and offered a crutch to Pasok.

    Determined to keep a hold on his house less than a year after being elected New Democracy leader, Kostas Karamanlis sent some of his top MPs eviction notices.

    Stephanos Manos, Giorgos Souflias, Vasilis Kontogiannopoulos, Petros Tatoulis, Nikos Kakkalos, Anastasis Papaligouras, and Georgos Panagiotopoulos were sent to the party's disciplinary committee Tuesday.

    Manos, Souflias, and Kontogiannopoulos refused to attend the hearing. Souflias called it illegal, adding that it damages party unity, and could contribute to its end.

    What caused the rage of Karamanlis was the fact that three of the MPs sent to the disciplinary committee voted in favour of Pasok legislation that will give the government more, the union less say in matters pertaining to pay and conditions in debt-ridden state-owned enterprises.

    Two more MPs, Souflias and Kontogiannopoulos, voted "present", refusing to follow the party line against the legislation.

    A further seven MPs weren't in parliament at all. Of those, five couldn't justify their absence.

    96 of the 108 MPs of the main oppositon party voted against the bill - arguing it doesn't go far enough

    in deflating the bloated public sector. The others feel it is a move in the right direction.

    Constantinos Mitsotakis was one of the New Democracy MPs who didn't show up for the vote. He was spared the disciplinary rod only because he is a former prime minister.

    Karamanlis said because of his political achievements, Mitsotakis is entitled to express views that don't mesh with the party line.

    After Monday night's vote, Kararmanlis met with leading party members, who recommended a stiff response to those who'd bucked the line.

    Justifying his disciplinary move, Karamanlis said Tuesday that those who hadn't voted with the party had given a crutch to a government that is hurting the nation. "That's unacceptable", he explained. "It means we're not equal to the occasion. we put an end to our party's introspection and years of infighting at our last congress. Greece needs decisive leaders and a collective spirit".

    Asked about reports that leading party members want him disciplined, Souflias said he doesn't know. He added, though, that it's not serious to discipline people for taking positions that are ideologically consistent with what New Democracy stands for.

    Kontogiannopoulos said he's ready to suffer the consequences of his abstention. He feels he did the right thing".

    Stephanos Manos, one of the New Democracy MPs who was unjustifiably absent from parliament Monday night says what happened in the house is significant. "We saw the two big parties agreeing that big changes need to be made in the public sector right now, and fast".

    From now on, continues Manos, Simitis has no excuse for not shaking out the troubled state enterprises.

    Responding to the disciplinary move against him, he said he'll stick to his principles and beliefs, because they're the only solution for Greece.

    He counsels self-restraint and diaologue in the party, so a split can be avoided.

    Former party leader Miltiades Evert sent a letter to Karamanlis Tuesday, urging him to stay cool and postpone the disciplinary hearing.

    Evert had said after the vote in parliament: "Everyone is free to vote as they like".

    But Karamanlis disagrees.

    Commenting on the vote in parliament and the crisis, Mitsotakis said, "New Democracy agreed with the policy proposal. The rest is insignificant, a question of tactics".

    Mitsotakis says it's inconceivable that things should have gone to the five- member disciplinary committee. He thinks there should be an emergency meeting of the party's MPs. "Bad council", he says, "Is pushing us toward a split. Unity is sacred, and all of us must work to preserve it".

    [02] Parliament

    In parliament Monday, 142 Pasok MPs voted in favor of the controversial part of that tax bill.

    The new legislation on collective bargaining bitterly resented by state workers, will exclude the unions from decision making on working conditions and pay in debt-ridden enterprises.

    Something which rubs many in Pasok the wrong way.

    265 out of the 300 MPs voted on the new legislation concerning public transport, the post office, state banks, and Olympic Airways.

    139 of Pasok's 159 MPs supported the legislation, which has proved divisive in ruling party ranks. Indicative of the split, 20 Pasok members didn't show up for the vote, 10 without any justification.

    Pasok MP Kimon Koulouris doesn't like the legislaton. "It's a threat to workers and their

    rights", he believes.

    MP Franglinos Papadellis voted in favor of the bill, criticising those who abstained: "A political position means voting one way or the other".

    The government is looking ahead. Labour minister Miltiades Papaioannou says now the legislation is on the books, the aim of the cabinet is to engage public sector workers in dialogue. "we are looking for some kind of agreement with them within six months", he says. "An agreement that will help make public enterprises more efficient, to the benefit of both the economy and the workers".

    Finance minister Yiannos Papantonioui called the vote positive, adding that it opens the door to turning troubled enterprises around.

    [03] Mitsotakis

    In an interview on state television Monday night, Constantinos Mitsotakis lashed out at the government for creating the problems of the public sector.

    Mitsotakis said that spending in lame enterprises is extravagant, and that the debt-ridden companies heap huge tax burdens on the people.

    Mitsotakis explained that the interest on the debt accrued by money-losers makes it impossible for the government to put an annual budget together. The government can't foresee how the money-losers will perform in the coming year, so it can't make budget allowance for eventual new debt.

    That means, concluded Mitsotakis, that in effect there is no budget.

    The former prime minister added that Pasok is driving the economy toward collapse, and that Greece will not be able to join the single European currency.

    [04] Simitis

    Asked about the crisis in New Democracy, the prime minister said he wouldn't comment on the opposition party's internal affairs. But he commented that New Democracy's troubles are a result of that party's lack of political clarity.

    Kostas Simitis added after a meeting of Pasok's executive bureau Tuesday that they hadn't talked about dissent in government ranks during the controversial parliamentary vote Monday.

    The prime minister noted they had discussed how the government will push ahead toward its policy goals.

    "We have over two years of our term left in which to meet our targets", he added. "Success will come if everyone works together and we make clear choices. We're determined to take the country where we've said we would".

    Simitis added that Pasok has no need of wretched political infighting and games.

    Defending his moves to shake out the debt-burdened public sector, he pledged, "I won't allow the government to be withdrawn from the battle to help and change society". "We'll clash with the forces trying to drag the country down. We want to promote economic development and make sure the country stands as an equal with other European Union members.

    [05] Farmers

    Farmers' leaders were touring the region of Thessaly Tuesday, trying to muster up support for more road blocks of the major roads in central Greece.

    The last round of commerce-stifling blockades was a year ago, and ended without the farmers' demands for state measures to prevent their incomes from falling being met.

    Tractors were parked alongside the national

    highway at several points Monday, ready to seal off the artery.

    The Thessaly farmers were to decide whether or not to go ahead with the road blocks at a meeting of their protest committee Tuesday night.

    Among other things, the farmers want some of their past value added taxes returned, easier repayment terms on their state bank loans, and higher state pensions.

    [06] Soccer

    Aek has jumped from third place to the top of the table, with a well-earned victory at home over erstwhile league-leader Olympiakos.

    Aek gets its only goal of the night from Marchelo in the 67th minute of the match in downing the boys from Piraeus.

    Aek outplays its guests throughout...the score could easily have been worse for the losers.

    In other matches, Panathinaikos is tied for second with Olympiakos after trouncing Panachaiki.

    Paok, Ionikos, Irakles, and Ofi occupy places four through seven respectively.

    And Paniliakos is a winner at home, Kalamata does it on the road, and Athinaikos and Kavala - no score in that one.

    (c) ANT1 Radio 1998

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