ATHENS – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ apology – five days after a deadly head-on train crash killed at least 57 – was too little, too late and a contrived attempt crisis management he didn’t write, his political rivals said.
With elections coming by July – they were to be set before the tragedy – Mitsotakis changed his original statement that the tragedy was largely due to “human error,” seen blaming a station master who admitted a mistake in having a passenger train and cargo train on the same track on the run from Athens to Thessaloniki.
But the manager said that automated and signaling systems weren’t working and media reports emerged that the railways had been left to neglect for decades and that the workers union in February warned of a disaster but were ignored.
PASOK-KINAL leader Nikos Androulakis didn’t buy what Mitsotakis said as being genuine and cited the delay, the Prime Minister also releasing what he said in a statement after going to the scene of the crash and pointing to human error.
“This was not a spontaneous apology. Five days after his initial reaction, which was to blame the stationmaster, causing a massive outcry, this apology comes off as an attempt to spin (the narrative,)” Androulakis said on Alpha TV.
“I say this because I have personally accepted an apology from Mitsotakis in the past, and I know what the results were; I know what the next steps after the apology will be,” said Androulakis, who blamed Mitsotakis for the wiretapping of his telephone by National Intelligence Service (EYP).
Main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance spokesperson Popi Tsapanidou also Mitsotakis’ statement didn’t come from him, asserting it was prepared as part of a carefully-managed attempt to further deflect criticism in the wake of furious street protests against the government and train company.
She also accused him of lacking the courage to give his apology alone but of seeking to “share” by blaming previous governments as well although there’s evidence they were to blame too for not acting to make the railways safer.
“It was a very nice text that the communications experts prepared for Mr. Mitsotakis to post on Facebook. Filled with empathy. As he says at the start, this time without the wooden language….” Tsapanidou said,
She added that, “It was a nice apology that they made him write, only they are five days late. And none of it is his own, none of it is real,” the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency AMNA reported.
“Even this apology, he did not have the courage to give alone but rushed to share it with all that governed before him, so that he does not have to face his own responsibilities,” she added,
She said he had “not given even half an answer” on why the accident was permitted to happen, “only words and promises to do now, a few days before the elections, all the things he has not done in four years.”
Mitsotakis was about to set the date for elections before the tragedy happened and they were seen coming as soon as April 9 but an announcement has been delayed although they must be conducted by July.