NEWS

Space agency chief's resignation sparks political row

TAGS: Politics

The resignation on Wednesday of the distinguished Greek astrophysicist Stamatios Krimigis from his position as head of the Hellenic Space Agency (HSA), over what he described as interference by the government in the agency’s work, has triggered a fierce political confrontation, with opposition New Democracy calling on Telecommunications Minister Nikos Pappas to respond to the allegations.

It was further revealed on Thursday that the managing director of the HSA, Constantinos Pilaftsis, also resigned from his post on Wednesday.

In his resignation letter, Krimigis, the head emeritus of the Space Department Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, accused Pappas of making decisions that effectively annulled the HSA’s entire purpose and made it prone to political subservience, at the expense of meritocracy. He also reckoned that there is “an effort to manipulate HSA toward specific goals.”

Krimigis was attacked on Thursday by the general secretary for telecommunications, Vassilis Manglaras, who said he only showed up to work twice. Krimigis, who described Manglaras in his letter as a “space czar,” responded by saying he had a “selective memory.”

ND also had a bone to pick with Pappas’s choice of Christodoulos Protopapas, former chairman of the European Satellite Operators Association, as Krimigis’s replacement.

In a past Facebook post, Protopapas went on a nationalistic rant, attacking Greece’s European partners. “When we [the Greeks] were building temples and wrote tragedies and comedies you [Europeans] lived in the mud, ate raw meat, were unbathed and spoke in inarticulate grunts,” he said.

In a statement ND said the post was a “characteristic sample” of the language used by Protopapas in public.

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