ND leader in all-out attack against coalition

ND leader in all-out attack against coalition

New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis launched a fierce attack Thursday on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his coalition partner, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, in connection to the Novartis case, the economy and foreign policy matters.

Speaking to his party’s MPs, the conservative chief urged New Democracy to pull together and confront a government that he argues is failing on all fronts.

“It is not always easy to have your own plan when some people are trying to sink the country into the mire,” he said, accusing the SYRIZA-led coalition of “feeding, and feeding off, polarization and division.”

Mitsotakis said that his party will support the launch of a preliminary judicial inquiry by Parliament into claims that Novartis paid bribes to politicians because New Democracy wants light to be shed on the case. Nevertheless, the opposition leader stressed that he believes the allegations are part of a plot that has been organized by the government, with help from some members of the judiciary.

Regarding foreign policy, the opposition leader chided Tsipras for not making it clear in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Benali Yildirim this week that the Imia islets are Greek and that Athens does not accept the questioning of its sovereignty in the Aegean.

He also made a thinly disguised comment about Kammenos, who often wears army fatigues during his visits to military facilities.

“You cannot conduct foreign policy wearing military fatigues,” he said. “Carnival season does not last all year.”

Mitsotakis also accused the government of trying to divide New Democracy over the Macedonia name issue, but he insisted the party is fully united on this matter.

“They have not finished us off, despite their efforts,” he said. “We are here, strong, upright and united.”

The conservative leader delivered his speech just a few hours after former ND chief Antonis Samaras, one of the politicians implicated in the Novartis allegations, filed a criminal complaint against Tsipras, Deputy Justice Minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos, three anti-corruption prosecutors and two of the three protected witnesses.

The ex-prime minister claims that they formed a criminal gang that was responsible for a series of offenses, including abuse of power, breach of duty and perjury. In a statement, Samaras accused Tsipras of being responsible for a “horrible conspiracy.”

“At a time when Greece is facing major challenges and threats, they are trying to defame their opponents with lies and to divide the Greek people,” added Samaras, who argued that he is also taking a stand because of the dangerous precedent set by the use of protected witnesses.

“In the future, every new government will be able to use coached informants to do away with its political opponents,” he said, while accusing Tsipras of trying to adopt the tactics of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

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