G. Gerapetritis: Everything should be investigated, this is the basic position of the government

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State Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis gave detailed answers to the question of wiretapping/surveillance during an hour-long (single-topic) broadcast on the “Sky” radio station, with the basic principle that “everything should be investigated, this is the government’s basic position”. With the simultaneous assurance that the government is taking those institutional initiatives “so that such phenomena do not repeat themselves in the future”, he asked not to lose the big picture which is, as he said, “the stability, governability and development of the country”.

Starting from the dialogue he had with the president of SYRIZA – Progressive Alliance on Friday in the Parliament, the Minister of State said that he does not want to stand any longer, because, as he explained, “it is something painful. Not for me personally, it is painful for everyone which perceives political things in a different way. It is not meant to invoke the political dialogue to legitimize anything. Unfortunately there is a perception in Greece that if we are in a political forum, everything is allowed. Unfortunately this has led to a significant slippage of the political discourse. No, is the answer. And when we are in a political forum, we should, if nothing else, invoke the truth. Honesty is what will sustain institutions.”

There was no cover-up

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Immediately after, on the essence of the case, “what happened is, indeed, a blow to the Republic”, he acknowledged. However, he added, “it should not alter the big picture of things. Yes, it was a mistake that happened. It was the government, through the prime minister, who first raised this issue. I am surprised at the ease with which it is used the term cover-up. Is it possible to talk about a cover-up, when the prime minister himself raised the issue and when three different parliamentary procedures are underway?”, he asked, referring to the previous pre-day debate, the Committee on Institutions and Transparency and today the Committee of Inquiry. “Does this point to a cover-up?” he insisted, adding: “Everything should be investigated. That is the government’s basic position.”

No one is exempt from the Constitution

Given the opportunity, however, he clarified that “both from the institutional point of view and from that of political reality, it is not possible for anyone to be exempted from the Constitution. Which has an unclassified provision, it states that whenever it is judged for reasons of national security that there should be legal surveillance, anyone is subject to this regime. No exceptions whatsoever.”

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However, this was followed by a second clarification from the Minister of State: the above issue is one thing and “the question of making a substantial weighting. It is not possible without sufficient evidence to proceed with surveillance of any person, especially a political person”.

In any case, he concluded on the matter, “since the Constitution does not classify and the law did not provide for any exception, it is not possible interpretatively to attribute such a privilege to a class of citizens. This is my interpretation. The political staff does not by definition have a privileged position in the state. Political personnel have only those privileges, narrowly interpreted, that the Constitution confers. If every time a question of political class privileges arises, we make a wide-ranging interpretation of the Constitution, I fear we would reach to a point of absolute immunity and lack of accountability of political personnel”.

In particular now on the issue of monitoring the phone of the president of PASOK – Movement for Change Nikos Androulakis, he said that when it came up, “everyone, including me when I heard it from the prime minister, was in a state of great surprise […] what emerged and the prime minister evaluated as a mistake, is the fact that there was no mechanism to adequately ensure that persons who have such a special position in the state are protected, so that any indications are not enough but there are very greater evidence. Possibly even a political filter,” he noted.

He brought, at this point, the example of the United Kingdom, where the service that does the legal surveillance, “when it comes to political figures has a political filter […] In any case, the political superior, the prime minister or the interior minister, is the one who will give the order. This type of political filter is a counterweight.”

Repeating the basic principle that “the prime minister and every official of the State will be informed only if issues arise, which are related to national security”, he underlined that no one can know the reasons that led the agency to recommend the controversial surveillance. However, “no evidence emerged from the monitoring of Mr. Androulakis’s phone and for this reason there was no reason to continue nor for any third party to know its content”.

And at a later point in the interview, “no one knows anything (s.b. about the monitoring of Nikos Androulakis’s phone), nothing came of the monitoring. Nothing has come to our knowledge and for this reason I realize that nothing has come of it. And, to refer to the censure of the official opposition leader, I obviously did not know that Mr. Androulakis was being legally monitored when I came to Parliament.”

At the same time, the Minister of State recalled that “from the first moment the Prime Minister took a clear position, he invited Mr. Androulakis to be informed in private about the matters concerning him. The choice of the president of PASOK/KINAL was not to come and to leave in the political fora these issues. The issues related to national security cannot be the subject of public dialogue”, according to the criticism of G. Gerapetritis.

At the same time, he repeated the government’s assurance that “the Greek State has not in any way procured the illegal software and in no way monitors the citizens through these systems”. About 500 illegal software are in circulation, he also said while pointing out that the Ministry of Digital Governance has developed and is developing many projects related to cyber-security.

“The prime minister himself pointed it out, no desire to cover up, everything will be revealed”, he insisted and added: “We will take care as much as possible to institutionally restore these issues, so that such phenomena do not repeat themselves in the future”.

Regarding today’s parliamentary process, “the formation of a commission of inquiry will be done only by the opposition, the government will abstain from the process”, he announced, recalling that “this government, on its own initiative, brought to the present revising Parliament an amendment to the Constitution so that that the opposition alone can set up investigative committees”.

Responding to the finding that Mr. Pavlopoulos, Venizelos and Alivizatos called for the resignation of the prime minister, the Minister of State stated that “governments resign when they lose the trust of the Greek people and when there is an issue of serious liability. Here there is objective political responsibility. And there is because we could not control the that mechanism, the safeguards so that such phenomena do not occur”. In any case, “in a parliamentary state how confidence and no confidence is defined is something that is constitutionally determined” and in this case, “if the opposition wished or wishes to give a vote of no confidence, it will bring it to the Parliament and it (the Parliament) will decide”.

Asked about the Prime Minister’s relations with Evangelos Venizelos, “I don’t think there was any confrontation, Mr. Venizelos expressed a position. I particularly respect Mr. Venizelos’ scientific training and political wisdom, but he does not cease to express a political opinion . He did not basically express a scientific but primarily a political position. To this the Prime Minister replied, it is creative and right to have this dialogue. Mr. Venizelos is an extremely exuberant personality, I am sure that he will come back and the dialogue will continue”.

The big stake

In closing, the Minister of State emphasized that “what is most important today is to ensure the stability and governability of the country. In the judgment of many, the government outside, with publications or in other ways, is concerned about the issue of legal surveillance. But they are concerned and many other governments, stronger than our own.”

At this point, in fact, he cited the pressure that the Italian government is under, which “has led to the jump in spreads in the secondary bond market, resulting in a very negative economic impression”. He called on the country’s political staff to “carefully examine everything that has arisen, to cure the pathologies. However, we must in no way lose sight of the big picture which is the stability, governability and development of the country”.


Source: Capital

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