Papandreou upbeat on party’s poll chances

Greece’s foreign minister, George Papandreou, expressed his optimism that PASOK would recover, but admitted people were tired of state bureaucracy, widespread corruption in state services and powerful vested interests trying to dominate political life. In this interview with Kathimerini, Papandreou observed that a sector of the public «believes that PASOK itself has become part of the establishment and that it is incapable of taking the initiatives necessary.» «This is a challenge we must rise to,» said Papandreou. Dialogue with the parties of the Left should not be restricted to contacts with leaders, he said, adding that rumors of Simitis leaving office before the elections were nothing more than rumors. However, Papandreou did not indicate what he would do if the party lost the next poll. Turning to foreign policy, the foreign minister said he did not expect «world-shattering developments» in Greek-Turkish relations at this stage, but said it was a great achievement to be free of the «climate of tension and crisis» of the past. Exploratory contacts between Athens and Ankara did not impinge on Greece’s sovereign rights, he explained, and rejected accusations of secret diplomacy. As for the stalemate in the Middle East, Papandreou felt both the political leaders of Israel and Palestine bore a grave responsibility.