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Greek Parliament Elects Carolos Papoulias as President

By Miron Varouhakis
The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- The Greek parliament elected Carolos Papoulias as president Tuesday, choosing a former foreign minister who served more than 20 years in the legislature for the largely ceremonial post.

Papoulias, 75, will be sworn in March 12 as Greece's sixth president since the collapse of the country's military dictatorship in 1974.

A leading member of the main opposition Socialist party, Papoulias received a record 279 votes in the 300-seat Parliament, winning support from his own party as well as the governing conservative New Democracy party -- who had nominated him. Papoulias was the only candidate running.

Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis' New Democracy party ousted the Socialists in March elections after they governed the country for 11 years.

Papoulias replaces Costis Stephanopoulos, who ends his term next month after being only person to serve two consecutive five-year terms in the post.

"With respect to the views of all parties and the representatives of the Greek people, I want to thank you for the great honor, which I accept with a feeling of responsibility," Papoulias said after he was informed of the result.

First elected to parliament in 1977, Papoulias was re-elected every year until 2000 -- when he decided not to run.

When the Socialists governed from 1981-89, Papoulias served three years as deputy foreign minister and four years as foreign minister. He again served as foreign minister from 1993-96.

He also served as deputy defense minister under a 1989-90 coalition government.

Greece's presidency was stripped of nearly all executive powers in March 1986, when the Socialists amended the constitution and transferred power to the prime minister and Parliament.

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