Former Premier Simitis Says SYRIZA Economics Confounding

Former Prime Minister and PASOK leader Costas Simitis. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

ATHENS – With elections due this year, Greece’s former Socialist Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA is driving away prospective investors and put the country on a slope toward toward “systematic economic decline.”

“We have the biggest public debt, a low growth rate, very high unemployment, a low competitiveness rate and a poor record on issues of social fairness, justice and corruption,” Simitis said during an event organized by the Network of Contemporary Democrats, a political movement set up by former PASOK reformists, said Kathimerini.

Simitis, who was in power when Greece got into Eurozone in 2001 despite critics later saying it was based on fudged economic estimates,

Simitis said SYRIZA was resorting to demagoguery and fabrications in a desperate bid to return to power despite polls showing the party that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, unseated, the major opposition New Democracy, has double-digit leads.

“The government’s economic policy is centered around handouts and benefits, which, in turn, fuel clandestine labor and tax evasion,” he said. “The government… disguises reality, which is eventually revealed to us through Brussels,” referring to the seat of the European Commission and reports on Greece’s standing.

Going on the attack, former Prime Minister and then-PASOK Socialist leader Costas Simitas said money laundering charges being probed against him are part of the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition’s attempt to slander him with elections coming next year.

He is being investigated as part of the scrutiny into the acquisition of a C4I security system for the 2004 Athens Olympics and responded by saying that “personal attacks can’t touch me,” Kathimerini reported.

“It is dangerous for the public life of the country to be dragged into the mud while we are still in a crisis,” he said in a statement, responding to the country’s more than 8 ½ year-long economic and austerity crisis.

With Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras falling in polls after reneging on anti-austerity promises and Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis said SYRIZA’s chances of returning to power depend partly on putting political rivals in jail, Simitis said that, “The obligation of governors is to come up with policies for the future and not mud about the past.”

Earlier, Simitis said that he wouldn’t sit still after a report Greece’s anti-money laundering authority is going to look into his bank accounts.

He said that he has “nothing to hide,” and that the allegations in the Ta Nea daily newspaper were “scandalous,” and that he would respond in full after finding out “who is behind them.”

He added that,” “History is not written by the transient holders of executive power,” in another shot at the government.

According to the report, which was confirmed by officials, authorities have also requested the opening of bank accounts held by the ex-prime minister’s brother, Spiros Simitis, and by former public order minister Michalis Chrysochoidis and his deputy Vangelis Malesios.

That came after the report referred to the deposition of a French citizen, Michel Josserand, in 2006 relating to the upgrade of Hellenic Navy frigates, in which he said that a US company approached Simitis and Chrysochoidis directly to secure the C4I deal.