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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-06-27

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM: Siemens case in Parliament after court probe

  • [01] PM: Siemens case in Parliament after court probe

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday said that his ruling New Democracy (ND) party's Parliamentary group would request that a Parliamentary fact-finding commission look into the Siemens affair "as soon as justice completes its inquiry". He also announced his intention to propose a cross-party committee on the timely issue of "political money".

    He was speaking in Parliament during an off-the-agenda discussion on the high cost of living.

    Addressing an open invitation to all the parties in Parliament, Karamanlis said he would ask the parliament president to immediately proceed with setting up a cross-party committee that would draft a comprehensive proposal for enhancing transparency in party affairs, "particularly on matters that concern the operation of political parties, their operational and electoral expenditures, and for their funding, to the greatest possible degree, by the state budget".

    On the same issue, in his rejoinder to main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, the premier ruled out early elections but left open the possibility of convening a special session of the Parliament plenum "if and when this was needed" to discuss the Siemens affair.

    He also dismissed Papandreou's call for extending the present Parliamentary session in order to rule out any possibility that offences might become statute-barred, accusing Papandreou of trying to "spread the blame" at a time when officials within his own party are being called before examining magistrates to provide explanations concerning their role in a case involving a "campaign contribution" to then ruling PASOK of one million D-marks by the German multinational in late 1999.

    Karamanlis accused PASOK's leader of showing concern that offences would be statute-barred for others when he knew that this mostly concerned his own party and of "playing a hypocritical, opportunist and irresponsible game," when he was "perfectly well aware that offences were not statute-barred after the end of the first but after the end of the second session of Parliament".

    "We are now at the end of the first, so no such issue arises," he added, while pointing out that the Constitution allowed a special session to be convened if this was judged necessary.

    During the debate, which took place at the instigation of main opposition PASOK party, Karamanlis severely criticised "those pretending to be censors in the effort to shield the political system, who voted against all the laws for promoting transparency, undermined the institutional shielding of the parties and the consolidation of transparency by way of the revision of the Constitution."

    Karamanlis said ND had tabled a series of proposals which, today, could have served as "constitutional mandates". This, however, did not happen, "due to the negative stance of the opposition".

    The premier further said that he was open to every productive proposal.

    "I once again ask that we proceed ahead together. If there is rejection yet again, the governmental majority (in parliament) is prepared, and determined, to forge ahead. It is my decision to not give anyone the opportunity to create shadows at the expense of the political world, to attempt to transfer the responsibilities, to engage in exercises of disinformation," Karamanlis stressed.

    The premier also spoke of an "attempt to downgrade the judicial system and to diffuse responsibilities in the Siemens case", and described as "hypocritical" Papandreou's call for the immediate setting up of a fact-finding commission.

    "Let no one have the slightest doubt. I have been saying this since February. A fact-finding commission will be set up at our own initiative. It is our commitment. It will be set up, however, immediately after justice completes its inquiry," Karamanlis stressed, and assured that the judicial inquiry will proceed, and will be completed, adding that "we will not allow anything to delay the judicial investigation".

    He further explained that the establishment of a fact-finding commission at the present stage would only "create obstacles to the judicial investigation and obstruct Justice, which is already effectively tracking the evidence, which was covered up in the past."

    He added that a fact-finding commission at this point "would only serve those who want to hinder the work of justice, it would serve only those who are afraid, who want a cover-up", warning: "There will be no cover-up. That was the practice of other eras, other times, and other governments".

    The premier further called on the main opposition to stop attacking judicial officials: "It is not their fault if some people are taken before justice, if some people broke the law and in some people are the focus of an in-depth investigation," he stressed.

    In his rejoinder, Karamanlis again stressed that it was now the government that itself found and referred every case that appeared suspicious to justice.

    "The citizens can now be certain that the investigation will be completed and those responsible, in every case, will be sternly be called to account, whoever they are and wherever they might be," he emphasized.

    In comments on the high cost of living, Karamanlis said the current 'explosion' in prices was primarily due to a sharp deterioration in the global economic environment, while for the most part in Greece it was due to chronic weaknesses of the domestic markets.

    "We cannot hide this reality. Neither dressing it up nor exaggerating it serve any purpose," Karamanlis added, noting that these matters required continuing reforms in the state and the process of development, changing the distortions of the market, and strengthening of the inspection mechanisms against the phenomena of profiteering, while they also require the more active mobilisation of the citizens".

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