ATHENS – Trying to keep his fragile coalition attacks as austerity talks with international creditors are stalled, Greek Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras turned to blaming the previous ruling New Democracy-PASOK coalition for corruption and economic scandals.
As he’s fallen to 10 percent on popularity polls and seen New Democracy take leads up to 15 percent in surveys, Tsipras went into an attack mode against the Conservatives and Socialists in Parliament for failing to act against corruption and making the public “immune” to a series of scandals involving kickbacks.
Tsipras earlier had blamed them as well after Transparency International said corruption was still endemic under his regime, which he said was because of cases that began under his rivals that hadn’t been resolved during his two-year reign so far.
Parliament is debating the establishment of a preliminary committee to conduct a preliminary investigation into former PASOK minister Yiannos Papantoniou, focusing on armament programs carried out while he was head of country’s defence ministry in the early 2000s during a period when it was rife with corruption, bribery and the theft of hundreds of millions of euros in contracts.
“While we have the majority in this Parliament, and we will have it for many more years, we will not let anything go uninvestigated,” he said, adding that all corruption cases will we followed up until they conclude, the Athens News Agency reported.
He hasn’t done anything about it yet despite what he said but he added other cases are being probed, such as that involving the pharmaceutical company Novartis although a prosecutor resigned after saying she was pressured by forces she didn’t identify.
“I have the feeling that during the debate on these cases you will not be as carefree as you appear today in the preliminary investigation for Mr. Papantoniou, nor such advocates of transparency,” he told ND and PASOK, adding that more cases are coming as critics said he’s trying to deflect attention from the failed talks with the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) over a third bailout of 86 billion euros ($92.81 billion) as he’s ready to administer more austerity, breaking campaign promises.
Tsipras criticized ND President Kyriakos Mitsotakis and PASOK/Democratic Coalition leader Fofi Gennimata for skipping the debate and made innuendos about the tenure of former prime minister Kostas Simitis, a previous Socialist leader.
Tsipras also criticized the law offering immunity to ministers but didn’t explain why he hasn’t changed it as he has a majority in the Parliament thanks to his deal with the pro-austerity, far-right, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL)
He said the New Democracy and PASOK governments, separately and in a coalition before he toppled it in 2015, were responsible for condoning crimes but that even worse was the “toxicity with which you permeated society, so that each case of corruption and opacity is tolerated with apathy.
“And instead of a courageous self-criticism you have the nerve, when the country was in a whirlwind, to […] tell people they were responsible for the bankruptcy and that, at best, they were involved in this,” he said.
In recent years a series of scandals involving banks had ripped through Greek society, alleging that businesses and privileged people used them as personal ATMS to get loans they didn’t repay while the banks were hounding others to pay what they owe.