The National Intelligence Service cannot become… a strainer, the Minister of State Akis Skertsos pointed out, speaking on the radio frequency of “Sky”, at the same time underlining the government’s institutional moves in this matter. It is an issue that has troubled every democratic citizen, and the prime minister, he acknowledged at the same time, while he once again invited the president of PASOK – Movement for Change, Nikos Androulakis, to be informed, exceptionally, by the Governor of the EYP. “Obviously we agree with yesterday’s intervention by the former prime minister, Mr. Karamanlis,” he also said.
“Undoubtedly it is a serious issue, it is an issue that represents a bad moment for the government. It has troubled, it has upset every democratic citizen of this country, primarily the prime minister and the government,” said the Minister of State in his introduction.
But, he continued, “in principle it is better to have a government that makes mistakes, admits them and corrects them, than to have a wrong government. This government and this prime minister belong to that category (p.s. . the first), he showed it by his attitude once he became aware of this very serious failure by the Intelligence Service. He took decisions and initiatives himself, took political objective responsibility, resignations were made at the highest level. He admitted that, here, a serious revision and shielding of the procedures governing legal surveillance”.
And, more thoroughly then, “he (the prime minister) and the government have initiated the procedures for the discussions that must be held in Parliament, at the level of leaders, at the level of the Committee on Institutions and Transparency and, of course, also at the level of the investigative committee. Well, everything is done as it should be done, in a serious and institutional manner. And, respecting the very strict confidentiality framework that must govern the procedures surrounding the monitoring, which the EYP has to do by mission her”.
Given, in fact, that “we are living in a very turbulent period, which does not last long, we are experiencing prolonged and successive crises, national and international”, the Minister of State insisted that “we have a government that manages to manage these international crises very adequately and to provide a serious and effective safety net to the citizens. Contingency and political expediency must not overshadow or cloud the big picture, national sovereignty and national interests. We must all, here, position ourselves with great care and seriousness. We need a strong country in troubled waters, and a stable government”. On the other hand, “the opposition must do its job, just as the government must respect the legislation, the mission of the EYP, which cannot become a strainer”.
With reference to the intervention of former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday, the Minister of State replied that “obviously we agree with yesterday’s intervention of the former Prime Minister, Mr. Karamanlis, who said two things: first, he said that this is a very serious mistake, that it’s politically unthinkable and stupid for a government to be involved in something so serious. We totally agree, that’s what the prime minister said, there’s no government involvement at the political level. And secondly, he also said that exceptionally there should be procedures, that some things will come to light. That’s what we’re saying too.”
In this regard, he repeated: “As an exception, we call on Mr. Androulakis to be informed by the competent EYP Governor about the case he is concerned with, but without this case becoming a … strainer. We cannot put in jeopardy a entire service that performs a very critical national role”, he underlined and reminded, at this point, “the role of the EYP during the Evros crisis, the information we got then was very important in order to have effective management to prevent instrumentalization of refugee issue and a hybrid war, which had been declared against Greece”.
Asked, in particular, about the request of PASOK – Movement for Change to submit the file of its president to the Institutions and Transparency Committee, ‘A. Skertsos replied: “Firstly, we cannot move outside the framework strictly defined by the law in relation to the privacy process, and secondly, we already have a process of trivializing the procedures at the Institutions and Transparency Committee, with leaks. To put at risk very sensitive data and information from political opponents who, unfortunately, have no sense of the seriousness of the matter, this government will not do that,” he clarified.
Asked to comment on Karamanlis’ position that the invocation of privacy in such cases is subordinated to the need to purify public life, the Minister of State noted: “The government exceptionally says that this can be done for Mr. Androulakis, who is called to go to the Commander of the EYP to be informed about his case. Which is also not foreseen by the procedure”.
Regarding the information from the president of PASOK-Movement for Change, that he will appeal to the European Court, he objected: “This is a legal connection, the Prime Minister himself has invited Mr. Androulakis either to be informed by the Governor or, if he wants, he can appeal to Greek and European justice”.
In closing, he said that the issue “was not caused by the government, it is a failure, which has arisen from a framework that needs strengthening, shielding – and we must take these initiatives”. That is why he called for a debate on “how we can better shield the National Intelligence Service, so that it can do its job effectively, but at the same time it will respect the rights as defined by the Constitution”.
That’s why, he added, “one of the government’s first initiatives was a Legislative Content Act that tightened up, put in a second filter that was missing and was removed by the SYRIZA government in 2018, for declassification approval for legal attachments”.
In closing, he suggested “let’s see what other countries are doing”, to conclude: “the discussion has started on the initiative of the prime minister himself, some steps have already been taken and others will be taken. Beyond the noise, we are waiting to hear the proposals of the parties of the opposition in order to reach a nationally acceptable framework”.
Markets – partners applaud the course of the economy
The interview ended with economics: “the markets and our European partners are not worried about the course of the Greek economy. On the contrary, they applaud it, on August 12 the country came out of the 12-year financial supervision, we must not forget that. And it happened because the progress of the reforms, the economic management in a very difficult period, of the pandemic and the energy crisis, was positively evaluated”, stressed A. Skertsos, who added:
“The Greek economy has created significant resistance and GDP growth potential, much higher than other European economies. In 2021 we have the third largest GDP growth, we have a 5.3% decrease in unemployment since July 2019, we have added more than 250,000 jobs in a period of pandemic and energy crisis. This means that something is being done well, there are reforms that, some may disparage them, but they bring results”.
Finally, he mentioned the “more attractive” environment, so that foreign and Greek companies invest more. “In 2021 we had a 20-year record in foreign direct investment, this means that foreign markets see something and trust in the Greek economy. They see a reliable, stable, pro-investment government”, said the Minister of State, among other things.
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