NEWS

ND leader chides 2004 delays

New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis was briefed on preparations for the Olympic Games yesterday, in a meeting with Athens 2004 Organizing Committee chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. Afterward, although claiming the government was responsible for «serious delays,» he said this was not the time for blame but for work. «We are only 177 days away from the start of the Athens Olympic Games. We must use this time to the utmost in order to succeed,» the opposition leader said. «There is no doubt that on the part of the government there have been delays, serious delays. And today there are still problems. But this is not the time for criticism. It is the time for us to organize the best, the safest Games that have been held since the time of their revival,» Karamanlis said. «We must achieve this national target. And we will succeed, united, with hard work, with conscientiousness and responsibility.» New Democracy, which is ahead in opinion polls in the runup to the March 7 elections, and the ruling PASOK party, have agreed not to make the Olympics a campaign issue. Karamanlis has also pledged not to change organizers. Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday reasserted that the Olympic projects would be ready on time, despite numerous delays. «I want to assure everyone that everything is under control and the Greek construction world, Greek engineers and Greek workers are in a position to complete everything. Most things are ready anyway and the rest will be completed in weeks or a few months, long before the Games and within the timetables,» Venizelos said. He claimed «an artificial climate of concern» had been created.