NEWS

Karamanlis urges media to be fair

As the campaigning ahead of the March 7 election began to heat up, New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday wrote to his fellow party leaders, calling for a fair and open campaign, including debates and fair treatment by the news media. Karamanlis, whose conservatives are ahead of ruling PASOK in the polls, also took the opportunity to congratulate Foreign Minister George Papandreou who is set to become his party’s new leader as he is the only candidate to succeed Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who has announced his resignation from the leadership. «Dear George,» Karamanlis, 47, wrote to the 51-year-old Papandreou, wishing him good luck and «strength» in his new role. «I feel sincere satisfaction at the fact that the leadership of PASOK appears to be passing to a politician of the younger generation who appears not to invest in dividing the Greeks,» Karamanlis wrote, in an indirect reference to Simitis’s recent anti-conservative campaigning. Papandreou agreed with the contents of Karamanlis’s letter and said party leaders should commit themselves «on major issues, so that the country can go forward dynamically in spheres and changes that need to be made to enter a new era.» Karamanlis’s letter came at a time of great excitement in the news media which was prompted by Simitis’s announcement last week that he would step down as PASOK leader, and Papandreou, the son of party founder Andreas Papandreou, said he would seek the post. An extraordinary party congress is to elect him on February 8 and he has already begun his campaign for the March elections. His candidacy has rejuvenated the party and has prompted television channels to interrupt their normal programming frequently to present Papandreou’s movements. This has caused other parties to claim favoritism. Karamanlis called for three televised debates, including one in which all party leaders would take part. He called for equal treatment of parties that have members in Parliament or the European Parliament. He called for fairness from the state machinery as well.