A day after he was forced to resign over a video showing him in talks with Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, ex-cabinet secretary Panayiotis Baltakos insisted in a radio interview on Thursday that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had no knowledge of his conversations but suggested that more damaging recordings could emerge in the future.
“The prime minister did not know,” Baltakos told Real FM. “I was operating on my own initiative as a mediator for the good of the country. I wanted to dislodge the thousands of Greeks who had voted for Golden Dawn. The 500,000 Greeks who voted for Golden Dawn are not Nazis.”
Baltakos, a long-standing ally of Samaras, said that he had meetings with Golden Dawn before the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas last September and brief contact with representatives of the Neo-Nazi party afterwards. However, he insisted that he told neofasict MPs lies as part of a tactic to gain information from them.
“For the good of the country, somebody had to meet with these people,” he said. “We had to know what they were thinking, their strategies and movements. I told them what they wanted to hear so that I could win their trust.”
In the video posted online on Wednesday, Baltakos is seen claiming that the judicial investigation into Golden Dawn was politically influence. He resigned shortly after the video was made public and claimed that he had been telling Kasidiaris lies.
In his radio interview, Baltakos did not rule out the possibility that Golden Dawn will release more recordings of their meetings with him.
“There may be more videos and I may have said more things,” he said. “I cannot remember with which Golden Dawn MPs I met. I do not remember what else I have said and if I said something about the prime minister,” he said. “Six months on, I cannot remember what I said.”
During the interview, though, the ex-cabinet secretary admitted that he met with Golden Dawn’s Christos Pappas after the Fyssas murder and before the Neo-Nazi party’s deputy leader was remanded in custody on charges of being part of a criminal organization.
Baltakos denied that his son, Dimitris, forced his way into Golden Dawn’s office in Parliament on Wednesday and fought with MPs. He said, instead, that there was an altercation in the corridor. The New Democracy officials claimed he had not spoken to his son, who is wanted for questioning, since then.
“I don’t know where my son is,” said Baltakos. “He is independent. He is a coast guard officer. He has a code of honor.”