‘Let Justice do its work’

Greece’s two main political parties yesterday sought to play down the tension between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis over the past few days. Senior officials of the ruling PASOK party noted that everything that contributed toward undermining public life and creates a «murky landscape,» as Simitis put it over the weekend, creates a political cost that weighs most heavily on the government and not on the opposition, especially if the former has been in office for as long as PASOK has. This followed Simitis’s charges over the weekend that a climate of uncertainty was being created similar to that of before the military dictatorship – a charge that his government has spent the past two days trying to back away from. At the same time, the government appeared to wash its hands of the issue relating to the criminal charges filed against businessman Socrates Kokkalis a week ago and the subsequent revelations of his involvement with the East German secret police, the Stasi. High-ranking government officials avoided to state a position with regard to Kathimerini’s challenge yesterday that the account numbers with which Kokkalis appears to have moved hundreds of millions of dollars to unknown recipients in the mid-1980s should be opened. Some of them tried to attribute the developments to a purported war between business interests, avoiding the issue that the six criminal charges against Kokkalis create a need to investigate his relationship with political figures. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas noted that «the judiciary has a job to do, and it will do whatever it considers necessary within the context of its investigation.» New Democracy spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told Kathimerini (with regard to the bank accounts): «Laws are made to be respected. New Democracy’s position has always been that all the evidence should be investigated.» Meanwhile, on a visit to Brussels, PASOK MP Theodoros Pangalos, who was foreign minister for many years, made light of the revelations in a German Parliamentary report that Kokkalis was an agent for the Stasi from 1963 to 1968 and maintained contact until the fall of East Germany in 1989. At that time, Pangalos said, in such states, which functioned on the basis of informers, it was not unusual to work as an informant. Regarding the allegation that Kokkalis provided funds to PASOK, New Democracy and the Communist Party, Pangalos said the claim was «ridiculous,» implying that it was not illegal. Pangalos, appeared more concerned with the possibility of the creation of a «climate of tit-for-tat» and an excessive settling of past accounts.

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