NEWS

Abolition of EPYETHA under discussion by lawmaker team

The possible abolition of one of the most nefarious sectors in Greek public life, the infamous Defense Minister’s Commission (EPYETHA) – which Kathimerini has persistently recommended – is under discussion, sources say. The team which is drafting legislation, by order of Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos to replace Law 2298 and a long list of amendments that added responsibilities and posts until the commission numbered 400 staff in the final days of the previous government, is considering its abolition. Meanwhile, various individuals and groups that have dominated the sector for years are making determined efforts to reacquire the roles they held in the past, through EPYETHA. These attempts are precisely the sort of indicators to the minister’s colleagues that merely limiting the number of people who have been chosen, and the resumption by the commission of its former duties, will not provide a real solution to the problem. EPYETHA, which is already receiving attention from public prosecutors concerning the disappearance of nearly 3 million euros, is one of the murkiest areas in the Greek public sector, and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has been briefed about its nature and activities. As Kathimerini has noted in the past, the singularity of EPYETHA lies not so much in the amounts of money it handles, which might seem paltry compared with weapons programs, but in two special features: First, for years and by means of funds secret and otherwise EPYETHA was the main lever for bribing and corrupting people connected with defense, securing either their silence or their favorable treatment in various matters. Sometimes no exchange took place, but people who were able to influence public opinion were included in the minister’s inner circle. The second is that the commission was in many cases the cause and the mechanism for bypassing the opinions and reports of the real chiefs of staff in matters linked to defense planning and related weapons requirements. By its guidance, EPYETHA basically set prerequisites which other echelons of politics and administration then narrowed down to certain markets which may not have helped defend the country but were very fruitful for their supporters. Thus EPYETHA not only had a particularly negative effect on the normal conduct of relations between the political leadership and committees in everything connected with carrying out the work of the armed forces, but it also functioned as a mechanism for suppressing those whose role it is to monitor power.