Mr. Kotzias, Silence is Not Always Golden

Αssociated press

FILE - Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

On September 9, George Papadopoulos gave an interview to George Stephanopoulos, host of the ABC Sunday morning political show This Week. Being that both are Greek, Papadopoulos’ revelation that he had informed the “Greek foreign minister,” Nikos Kotzias, that Russians had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails, was especially poignant.

He said specifically: “I do remember telling another senior level diplomat, the Greek foreign minister…but for some reason, I just don’t remember ever telling [Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, whom he met in London].”

In addition, the SBS channel in Australia reported that “Papadopoulos, in his sentencing memorandum, revealed Australia was not the only foreign government he spoke with. In late May, 2016, just before Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Greece, Papadopoulos ‘revealed to the Greek Foreign Minister that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton.’”

Our September 15 commentary “Papadopoulos and Kotzias” described this as a bombshell that could have a significant impact on the minister himself as well as on the Greek government and Greece

In any journalistic assessment, this news can only be described as a bombshell. After all, it was Papadopoulos’ information about Russia’s theft of Clinton’s emails that spurred the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Russia’s possible interference in the 2016 elections, which threatens the Trump campaign as well as the president himself.

Yet this news was buried by the Greek media. Though, our coverage of the story, which through our digital editions is transmitted throughout the world, despite being an almost-lone voice, should come to the attention of someone. But even if this story has managed to escape the attention of the media, it could not have escaped the attention of the foreign minister.

That September 15 commentary also pointed out that “the questions that come to mind are: what did Mr. Kotzias do with this information? Does Prime Minister Tsipras know? Did the U.S. authorities know? Did Kotzias inform the Russian delegation, which was visiting Greece at the time? And finally, where did Papadopoulos reveal these details to Kotzias?

Surely these questions will be investigated by the authorities of several nations, not least of which the United States.

In any case, let us not be quick to rush to judgment and condemn Mr. Kotzias. There might be an innocent explanation. Nonetheless, Kotzias is obligated to disclose what he did with this highly sensitive and shocking information, and when.”

He recently had that chance, but he forsook it. At a meeting to establish an institution, the National Security Council, he was asked by the New Democracy (ND) representative about the briefing Papadopoulos gave him. As ND’s press release stated, “to these issues, national issues, a very important matter has been added, which arose from the statements of a former associate of the U.S. president, who stated that he had informed Nikos Kotzias about issues related to the past U.S. elections”.

But the minister, Kotzias, was silent. And he did not even refer to the issue later in his lengthy and misleading statements about the reasons for the meeting’s dissolution.

It’s wrong to choose silence, because this is not an issue to be hushed up.

It is very serious. So serious that, that we will not be surprised if Mueller’s team arrives in Athens, if they have not already arrived, to find out what Kotzias knew, when he knew it, and what he did with that bombshell of information.

President Nixon, at the time of Watergate, advised his associates to replicate his tactic of stonewalling; of silence.

It turned out not to work. That’s because silence is not always golden.