Interview with Mitsotakis at Kathimerini HQ

In a wide-ranging interview at Kathimerini headquarters on Wednesday in the wake of Sunday’s regional and municipal elections that gave his daughter, New Democracy-backed candidate Dora Bakoyianni, the Athens mayorship, the party’s honorary chairman, Costas Mitsotakis, spoke of the gains won by candidates he had supported in Hania, Palaio Faliron, Dafni and Menidi. Present at the meeting was Kathimerini SA Chairman Aristeidis Alafouzos, Kathimerini publisher Themistocles Alafouzos, editor in chief Antonis Karakousis, editorial director Christos Panagopoulos and other leading staff members. Mitsotakis was accompanied by the head of his press bureau and a close associate for 25 years, Yiannis Pefkianakis, a journalist and future parliamentary deputy for the prefecture of Lasithi, on the island of Crete. The former prime minister gave his views on terrorism, and the attempt by certain sections of the media to encourage public sympathy for the suspects. His personal interest in terrorism is due, of course, to the murder by November 17 of his son-in-law, Pavlos Bakoyiannis. He said he expected the government to go all the way with the investigation, now that it had picked up the trail. «Certainly (Public Order Minister Michalis) Chrysochoidis is a man of good faith,» he said, adding that he was «not afraid» of security during the Olympic Games. «We are still at the stage of the counterattack. We are still on the defense. Time will tell, but these arrests are not enough,» he said. As for his own decisive role in the debate on the Constitution, Mitsotakis said that he had tried hard «because the Constitution can find solutions to difficult issues such as the use of forestland and media-state relations, although this was not achieved,» he said. He expressed his confidence that ND would win the next elections. «What is needed is bravery and courage, such as that displayed by (former Prime Minister Nikolaos) Plastiras – and people voted for him,» he said. He also expressed the view that former ND cadres, such as outgoing Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, former minister Stefanos Manos and Andreas Andrianopoulos should return to ND for the next elections. However, he said his objection to his former Foreign Minister Antonis Samaras returning to the ND fold still held. As for the performance of extreme rightist Giorgos Karadzaferis in the local elections, Mitsotakis said he did not believe Karadzaferis would form a new party and that there was no ultra-right wing movement in Greece. «This has been invented by the government to garner votes from the center-left,» he said. «Only two parties will run for office. The winner will be New Democracy,» he reiterated, emphasizing that ND had to clarify its position vis-a-vis the ruling PASOK party, which was hanging on to power in the knowledge that it would lose the elections. «My own liberal policy, as I have formulated it, is what the Simitis government is attempting to follow. Seven years in office should have been enough for him. After the end of Greece’s six months at the presidency of the European Union, that is in the fall of 2003, before the Olympic Games, is when the elections should be held,» he said. Mitsotakis is confident Cyprus will join the EU, as the «ground is fertile.» He then mentioned the financial «black hole» in Olympic Airways for which the Greek people were paying, and the fact that «50 percent of the government’s expenditure had not been passed by Parliament, as was proper, but the economy minister had simply guaranteed the amount.» «Every guarantee constitutes a loan, and so one draws the conclusion that the economy is collapsing,» he said.