SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Thursday lightly reprimanded one of his former ministers, Nikos Pappas, who in a taped conversation with a Greek-Israeli businessman presented to Parliament earlier this week had appeared to suggest that former alternate justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos, also of the previous SYRIZA government, had been involved in shady dealings.
During a session of SYRIZA’s political council, Tsipras said Pappas should offer clarifications regarding his conversation with businessman Sabby Mionis which the latter submitted on Monday to a parliamentary committee investigating Papangelopoulos over his handling of a case involving Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis.
However, Tsipras also took the opportunity to lash out at the conservative government. “Faced with such a ruthless system of power, all of us, and chiefly officials on the front line, must watch our every action and word,” Tsipras said.
Tsipras added that he had no doubts about the integrity of SYRIZA officials, but that “each of us must assume the responsibility for their mistakes, oversights and slip-ups” and make sure they are not repeated.
Pappas, for his part, struck an apologetic tone, saying that he took responsibility for parts of the “illegally obtained conversation.” The former minister, who can apparently be heard during the taped conversation saying that Papangelopoulos was known for having his “own agenda” and “making a lot of money” from backroom deals, claimed that his words did not reflect his true convictions but were an effort to calm down a person in a frenzy. “Mistakes in tone and substance were the pretext for attacks against us,” he said.
According to sources, several members of the political council expressed their frustration with Pappas. Notably, former finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos said Pappas should offer more clarity, adding that he did not feel he could join a future SYRIZA government if such behavior were to recur.
Separately, a parliamentary committee tasked with determining whether Papangelopoulos sought to influence the course of the Novartis investigation essentially concluded its work after the ex-leftist minister walked out, protesting that his rights were being violated. The panel is expected to compile its report by July 15.