PM mulls aide’s future

As the government prepares for this week’s debates, and votes on motions to allow Parliament to investigate the Vatopedi property scandal, the position of Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos is looking increasingly shaky. Pressure from within New Democracy, as well as from opposition parties, is growing for Roussopoulos to quit his posts or be sacked by the prime minister. PASOK has accused him of being the «moral instigator» of the deal between the state and the Mount Athos monastery which allegedly cost taxpayers some 100 million euros. According to sources, Roussopoulos has offered his resignation twice but Premier Costas Karamanlis has rejected it. The prime minister has held talks with close aides over the past few days and sources say that his most respected advisers and several high-ranking members of the government have told him that regardless of how the votes in Parliament turn out, he will have to make some changes to his Cabinet. One option is to reshuffle the Cabinet but Karamanlis seems loath to do this before the budget is passed through Parliament in December. Therefore, it seems that he may have to sacrifice a minister in the meantime. Roussopoulos has been one of Karamanlis’s closest aides but has also been seen as something of a liability lately after being linked to a number of controversial matters and scandals, including the role of his wife, Maro Zacharea, who had to give up her career in journalism and publishing after criticism about the couple’s ethics. Karamanlis will be in London today for a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown but will have to make his mind up on his next move when he returns to Athens early tomorrow, in time for the first vote on whether a parliamentary committee should be set up to look into the property deal. Meanwhile, the Communist Party said yesterday that it would back PASOK’s motion on Friday for a more potent pre-judicial inquiry to be held by Parliament. This means that the proposal will pass if three conservative MPs also support it.