PASOK’s dialogue bid rejected

A bid by PASOK leader George Papandreou to encourage Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to join him in tackling corruption was given short shrift yesterday by the government, which dismissed the move as an attempt to divert attention from the Socialists’ embroilment in the Siemens scandal. Papandreou took the unusual step of writing to Karamanlis to ask him to support his request for Parliament to be reconvened from its summer recess and a full plenary session held. The PASOK leader wants the Siemens scandal and the wider issue of party funding and political corruption to be debated openly. He also reiterated his calls for a parliamentary committee to be formed to investigate the Siemens scandal further and to examine whether any current or former politicians should face charges. In his letter, Papandreou said the people expected «above all from the two big parties that have governed Greece to show some courage and the political will to combat practices and attitudes that undermine every notion of transparency, meritocracy and justice in the governance of this country.» «Either we will agree to clean up this and other matters that are plaguing political life… or we will be neglecting our duties,» Papandreou went on to say. The PASOK leader concluded by saying that the two men are faced by a dilemma and that he has already shown what his position is. In a written response, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that PASOK had already shown it was not serious about tackling corruption when it turned down the government’s proposal to hand over the monitoring of party finances to an independent body rather than a parliamentary committee. He also suggested that the opposition party was simply aiming to cover up its role in the Siemens scandal.