© Copyright Embassy of Greece 1996-2005. All Rights Reserved.
08 September, 1997
Prime Minister Costas Simitis said in his Thessakoniki International Trade Fair press conference yesterday that the assumption of the 2004 Olympic Games by Athens will have a positive effect on Greece's national issues and particularly relations with Turkey.
"The Olympic Games are an event that will allow us to strengthen Greece's standing in the international community. They will allow us to promote Greek positions on our national issues and give us the opportunity to promote the policy of peace and friend ship towards everybody. I don't think they will influence Turkey as far as her policy is concerned. Turkey is being influenced for some time now by the policy we follow, by the initiatives that we undertake, by the continually growing acceptance of our views in the framework of the European Union. It is not the Olympic Games that mark a change in this course. It is some time now that acceptance of our views has risen considerably, and will continue so, the Olympics are a means for this, however we have many means at our disposal and we use them".
Replying to questions on whether the Games will have repercussions on the economy and whether projects underway in rural areas will be restricted to enable the completion of projects which are essential for the Games, Mr. Simitis said that according to estimations made it has been assessed that "the Olympic Games will have a positive contribution to the country in general and to the Greek economy."
Mr. Simitis reminded that 80 per cent of necessary installations are already in place and are operating, adding that money required for the remaining projects "can be secured through regular channels."
He said that organizing the Olympiad will also have repercussions which will not be immediately measurable, such as an increase in tourist arrivals, before, during and after the Games.
On the question of the rates of carrying out projects in rural areas, Mr. Simitis stated categorically that development projects will continue to be carried out throughout the country.
"The Olympic Games are a milestone, a process which will contribute to the achievement of certain political and economic targets we have. It is not our main mission, our primary target. Our primary target is to shape other conditions of development for the economy and society and we have repeatedly stressed that we want strong rural regions," he said.
"It is not necessary for us to promote resources from elsewhere to support the Olympic Games, because then we will divert our policy in a direction which is not compatible with our views. Our policy has the primary target of promoting all of Greece, of strengthening the rural regions. And we will continue this policy," he added.
At this point, Mr. Simitis referred to the third Community Support Framework which, he said, will have considerable resources for the country and rural regions in particular.
Commenting on projects concerning the Olympiad, Mr. Simitis announced that a body will be created to undertake the responsibility of all issues regarding the event. He said that the government will take all measures "so that nobody will ever be able to claim that this organization (of the Olympiad) will lead to processes which will not be transparent, to processes which operate in favor of a few who will exploit the necessity of projects and procurements."
Jubilation over Athens' victory
Celebrations continued over the weekend after Athens was awarded the staging of the 2004 Olympiad in Lausanne on Friday night.
As Greeks danced in the streets of Athens and around the country, the Athens 2004 bid committee celebrated its victory over the four other finalist cities in a party at a Lausanne hotel on Friday night.
Reactions at home
In Greece, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that the victory was "above all a declaration of faith in the country's future", as well as "gratitude for Greece's past contribution to world civilization and to universal athletic ideals".
Speaking at the Thessaloniki International Fair yesterday, he emphasized the economic benefits to be gained from staging the Games. At the same time he gave the assurance that the whole country would gain, drawing attention to projects scheduled for northern Greece from the third Community Support Framework.
Environment, Public Works and Town Planning Minister Costas Laliotis also stressed on Saturday that funds scheduled for works in the provinces would not be diverted to Athens.
Meanwhile, he said 120,000 jobs were expected to be created in construction works over the next seven years for the new airport at Spata, the Athens underground Metro system and the 53.5 km Elefsis-Stavros-Spata ring road which will link the new airport with the Olympic sports complex and the Olympic village at Thrakomakedones, at the foot of Mt. Parnitha.
Most Olympic events would take place at two main complexes. The existing Olympic Athletic Center of Athens, in the northern suburb of Maroussi and the Faliro coastline at and around the Peace and Friendship Stadium and eastwards towards the Faliro Delta.
New installations are planned in Galatsi, Goudi, Peristeri and Nikaia, where a 5,000-seat weightlifting center is to be built. Equestrian and archery events will be held in the northern district of Tatoi, while the rowing events are to take place on the northern Attica coastline at Schinia.
Welcome concert for bid committee
The Athens bid committee returned to Greece yesterday evening to a warm welcome, and immediately met with Mr. Simitis at Maximos Mansion, to brief him on its success.
After a brief meeting, chairman Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and other members of the committee, as well as Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, all of whom joined the team in Lausanne, walked with Mr. Simitis to Zappeion conference hall, for a welcome concert.
The concert began after short speeches with singers Haris Alexiou and George Dalaras among others. The Olympic Games could play a role in peace and stability in the area, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said, speaking to the Athens News Agency at the sidelines of the concert.
"The Olympic Games give us the opportunity to prove the stabilizing role of our country in the area. We can extend a hand of peace and cooperation, and I believe that our neighbors will respond to this challenge and proposal," he said.
During the classical age, the Olympic Games were marked by a truce between warring states until the games were over.
Source: Athens News Agency