CULTURE

Women of the new era meet for working lunch

In Prague, where the leaders of NATO allies gathered for the summit, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his wife Daphne had their photographs taken with Czech President Vaclav Havel and US President George W. Bush. The picture made the front pages of the Greek newspapers together with reports of another meeting that justifiably monopolized media interest. Newly elected Mayor of Athens Dora Bakoyianni had a public working lunch with the celebrated and dynamic Athens Olympic Committee’s (ATHOC) president, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. The Athens Olympics chief invited Bakoyianni, who promptly accepted, «to meet and talk,» and the meeting took place on the eve of the feast of the Virgin Mary at a busy restaurant in an arcade on Panepistimiou Street, in the heart of Athens. The event dominated all the news bulletins. What they said, over their light midday meal, was more in the nature of a business than a private conversation. Apart from being on the official stand at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Olympic Games, the two women will share the spotlight throughout the Games, and perhaps also the funds and the responsibility that entail for running the Games smoothly – a ongoing headache for the government. The Public Works Ministry and Minister Vasso Papandreou are optimistic about the deadlines, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki is following the progress of the projects because she has to account to the IOC, and Bakoyianni, as incoming mayor, also shares responsibility for the preparations. Outgoing Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, who is in the USA and who hands over the post on January 1, has steered clear of the responsibilities of the Olympic committee. It is a new era now with Bakoyianni, hence her warm, cheery meeting with Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, under the eye of the locals. Neither had ouzo, both opting for mineral water. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki had a diary full of appointments while former minister Bakoyianni had a simple white folder. The women know each other from their days in Parliament, when Bakoyianni was elected deputy of Evrytania, an electoral district with one seat, and Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was a deputy for the difficult first electoral district of Athens. At that time, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki resigned from Parliament to marry Theodoros Angelopoulos, from the family of industrialists and philanthropists. The couple have two sons, Panayiotis and Dimitris. Next Saturday, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios will declare Theodoros Angelopoulos an archon of the Patriarchate. His father, the late Panayiotis Angelopoulos, was a great benefactor who rebuilt the patriarch’s residence at the Phanar.