NEWS

We need some clear solutions, Mr Simitis

The revelations of the past few days concerning the life and times of tycoon Socrates Kokkalis are truly shocking. All the links in the chain encompassing what have been known for years as entangled interests are described in the German Parliament’s report, and now the Greek justice system must untangle them. There is every indication that we are heading for a cleanup of the largest political and economic scandal since the restoration of democracy in 1974. This is not an unprecedented case, of course, nor does it only affect Greece. From time to time, in every European country, someone deviates from the system, the story eventually comes to light and those responsible are dealt with accordingly. Recent examples include the dismissal of the foreign minister and president of the Constitutional Court of France, Roland Dumas, when the Elf scandal was uncovered; the resignation of Willy Claes from the post of secretary-general of NATO when the case of the commission for the Agusta Bell helicopters broke in Belgium; and a bribery case which affected former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and his entourage. In none of those countries, however, did the prime minister choose to speak of political deviations or abnormal conditions or otherwise add a dramatic note, as if democracy itself were under threat, which Greek Premier Costas Simitis unfortunately attempted to do, both in his public statements and when meeting with deputies behind closed doors. The situation is clearer than the prime minister describes it. Judicial authorities possess evidence that Kokkalis has committed certain actions ranging from his connection with the former East German security service, the Stasi, to bribing public officials, politicians and parties, money laundering, and maintaining relations with individuals that might, in one way or another, harm the national interest. All of these actions are under judicial investigation. Hence this is a rare opportunity for the prime minister and the leader of the opposition – neither of whom can be accused of involvement – to clear matters up once and for all. If the two party leaders, and especially Simitis, stop making general accusations that only obscure the issue, and instead put their weight behind the tide of justice, helping to manage the issue, then they will have done the country a service. In any case, they can only benefit from the process they will have supported. If the Kokkalis case goes to court, they can quickly clean up their own parties. And if the judicial investigators are unable to collect the requisite evidence, the party leaders will have shown the Greek people that they have done their best to promote greater transparency in Greece. All zeal