The coalition attempted on Friday to step out of the shadow cast by the revelations regarding ex-cabinet secretary Panayiotis Baltakos’s contact with Golden Dawn, with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras insisting he would not let the neo-Nazi party dictate the political agenda.
However, this effort was tempered by Golden Dawn’s claims that it would soon release further damaging audiovisual material implicating government members and judges in an attempt to manipulate the investigation into the party’s criminal activities.
Samaras attempted to set the tone by making his first public statement since the resignation of his top aide. “I am the one who fought Golden Dawn from the start, harder than anyone else and I will never allow a criminal organization to dictate our political life,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos followed suit. “Now that we are exiting the crisis, the stability of our country is a national treasure... that nobody can undermine,” he said.
Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou also went on the attack, insisting that the judicial probe into Golden Dawn has not suffered from political intervention. “I give the right to anybody who wants to check my phone records to do so,” he told Vima FM. “If they find even one phone call to the magistrates then I will resign, not just from being a minister but also as an MP.”
The government denied unconfirmed reports that there was an investigation into National Intelligence Service (EYP) officers who were allegedly monitoring Samaras’s communications.
SYRIZA, which has asked for a debate in Parliament about Baltakos, kept up the pressure on Samaras to explain his aide’s actions. “The prime minister-in-hiding should come to Parliament and give explanations,” said leftist MP Dimitris Papadimoulis.
Golden Dawn claimed that it had more damaging footage that it would soon release. GD spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris made reference to recordings involving a top judge and government officials apart from Baltakos. He also claimed that neo-Nazi MPs spoke regularly with lawmakers from other parties. Kasidiaris claimed that the recordings prove the probe against his party was politically motivated.