Siemens divides big two

A day after a poll showed the faith of the Greek electorate in the country’s two main parties dwindling, New Democracy and PASOK fought it out in Parliament yesterday over how allegations that Siemens paid bribes to successive governments should be investigated. A vote was due to take place at midnight on PASOK’s proposal for a parliamentary investigative committee to be set up to look into the claims. The Socialists had the support of the Communist Party and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) in their bid. The government, however, was against the idea, arguing that Greek prosecutors who are currently probing the allegations with the help of Swiss and German authorities should be allowed to collect information and carry out their work before any other moves are made. Siemens is believed to have spent more than 100 million euros over a 17-year period in Greece to bribe local officials in order to secure state contracts through its Greek unit, Siemens Hellas. Almost nine in 10 Greeks believe that politicians and political parties received bribes from the German electrical and engineering giant, according to a Public Issue poll released on Monday. In the buildup to last night’s vote, ND and PASOK deputies clashed over what course the investigation should take. «You are playing on the wrong pitch, with the wrong ball, wrong tactics and wrong coach,» said conservative deputy and former Deputy Public Order Minister Christos Markoyiannakis. PASOK MP Christos Papoutsis insisted that his party had nothing to hide and that the current government was responsible for any shady deals or oversight. Papoutsis said that PASOK would be happy for a parliamentary committee to look into the dealings that every government since 1990 has had with Siemens. Markoyiannakis pointed to the 250-million-euro deal that a PASOK government signed to buy the C4I surveillance system for the 2004 Athens Olympics as being one of the most suspect agreements. Siemens was part of the consortium involved in the deal.