Last Monday, The New York Times published a commentary on its website by an occasional contributor who launched a general and fierce personal attack against Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, regarding the wire-tapping reports.
As is known, the National Intelligence Service Agency (EYP) intercepted the conversations of Nikos Androulakis – from September until shortly before he became the leader of KINAL-PASOK, in December 2021 – and also of a journalist who specializes in covering economic issues.
Such was the harshness of the article that it gave at least the impression that the author was perpetrating a ‘hit job’ against Mitsotakis.
As a Greek – American, I was upset – and worried –.
I was worried about the effects it could have on the country’s political stability, as is now happening in other European countries.
Let me explain, though. I am not in the least understating the seriousness of the matter.
It is unacceptable for a state to violate the rights of its citizens instead of protecting them. I am reminded of what happened here in America when it was revealed that the CIA – prohibited by its charter – was monitoring the phones of citizens inside the United States.
But this is not a ‘left/right’ issue, as many are presenting it. It concerns all of us. And it doesn’t matter if one or thousands of citizens are being monitored. It is all the same.
Of course, a country also has interests that it must protect, such as its security. That is why it also has clandestine services. So when the surveillance is done in the context of protecting national security, and with the approval of the proper judicial authorities, then there is usually no problem.
In this case, we do not know what the basis for the wiretapping was. But we should be informed.
Yes, the Mitsotakis government did indeed commit a serious offense that cannot be offset by pointing out similar mistakes of previous governments.
Mitsotakis is operating on another level because he himself is a politician of a higher level. He knows better.
However, as I’ve argued since the moment this issue broke, let’s deal with it responsibly, in a proper and rational perspective.
Until a few weeks ago, we were losing sleep over a number of very serious matters, like the Turkish threat. Before this we were saying – the majority of Greeks were saying – “God saved us because we had Kyriakos as prime minister during the successive crises we went through these past three years.”
What happened to these issues? Are they forgotten? Doesn’t the country face any other problems now besides wire-tapping?
Let’s not lose the forest for the trees. Let’s not wipe away the whole slate over this misstep.
Let’s see how the Prime Minister himself has dealt with the case so far:
From the first moments this story broke, Mitsotakis characterized the wiretapping as a “big and unforgivable mistake” and apologized to Androulakis. Do you know of any other Prime Minister who has done this in the past?
Mitsotakis accepted the resignation of the head of the EYP and the director of his office – his own nephew – who supervised EYP.
Mitsotakis stated that he was not aware of the surveillance of Androulakis. His loyal associates obviously wanted to ‘protect him’, by hiding their actions from him. It is something that is done, mistakenly, but more often – and not only in politics – than we are told.
Does that absolve him of responsibility? Of course not. He is the Prime Minister of the country. Whatever happens in his government, he bears the ultimate responsibility.
However – Mitsotakis did accept responsibility for it. And he took the actions I mentioned above.
And he immediately embraced the debate in Parliament about the matter that took place.
So, let’s once again put things into perspective.
I repeat: A serious mistake was certainly made – but shall we now be consumed for months, focusing our attention on this issue and possibly throwing the country into chaos, to the delight of local and foreign interests, primarily Turkey, or will we let the competent authorities carry out their duty to investigate these matters, come what may?
And will we paralyze the spy agencies at a critical time for the security of the country?
Mitsotakis, who has handled such difficult issues successfully, has proven that he has the ability to correct such pathologies of the Greek state, and has been doing a great service to the country by modernizing, but also protecting the EYP so that it can perform its vital national mission.