March 15, 2005

Papoulias takes up reins of state as sixth president


As former president Costis Stephanopoulos enjoyed his first day out of office with a 16-kilometer bike ride at his holiday home on Sunday, his successor, Karolos Papoulias, held his first meetings in the Presidential Palace in Athens.

Papoulias, 76, who was sworn in on Saturday as Greece’s sixth president since the fall of the military junta in 1974, met with close associates at his new office ahead of his first official duties, which are set to begin toward the end of this week. Meanwhile, Stephanopoulos, 79, retired to his holiday home in Rio, near his native Patras. ...

Political controversy threatened to overshadow the swearing-in ceremony as MPs from the Synaspismos Left Coalition staged a walkout in protest over the fact that Papoulias was taking his oath before Archbishop Christodoulos, the head of the Church of Greece — as is traditional. Theodoros Koliopanos, a PASOK deputy, refused to attend the ceremony in protest at the Church’s role. The remaining Socialist MPs demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the recent Church scandals by refusing to stand when the archbishop entered the debating chamber with members of the Holy Synod.

Posted by kshaw at March 15, 2005 07:28 AM