ND, PASOK revert to name game

Reverting to the tactics they employed when PASOK was still in government and New Democracy the main opposition party, Greece’s main two political parties sparred yesterday over the identity of top businessmen who were allegedly involved in murky state contracts with the Socialists before the March 2004 elections. The revival of talk on the suspected links between media barons, state contractors and politicians – for which former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis coined the phrase «entangled interests» – followed a comment that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis officially did not make on Wednesday. Unofficially, he was quoted as having told New Democracy MPs, during a meeting at a Monastiraki souvlaki restaurant, that he would «not allow five pimps and another five interest groups to control public affairs, as these [people] can be easily confronted.» As senior ND officials had done on Wednesday, yesterday acting government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros insisted that Karamanlis «does not employ such terms.» He said, however, that the government is adamant on fighting «entangled interests,» and will table draft legislation by the end of the year to impose tougher restrictions on media barons’ access to state contracts. «The government will do whatever is necessary to ensure that our institutions are respected, and if needed, further legislation will be passed,» he said. PASOK focused on Karamanlis’s alleged «five pimps» remark, insisting that if the PM had specific people in mind he should name them. «If the prime minister feels under pressure from interest groups, he must speak out specifically and take specific action,» party press spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said. Otherwise, he continued, «everything else is in danger of descending to… a display of supposed determination with no substance.» Nevertheless, Athanassakis said his party was prepared to «contribute with proposals of its own» to a discussion on improving transparency.