PM not able to shake scandals

Although he was in Prague yesterday to attend a landmark meeting between the European Union and six former Soviet republics, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis could not escape the scandals dogging his government back at home. Having seen PASOK’s motion for Parliament to set up an inquiry into the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal voted down (by 151 votes to 148), Karamanlis did not stick around to witness another debate prompted by the Socialists. MPs were to vote last night on whether a second parliamentary committee should be set up to examine how former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis awarded state subsidized contracts to ferry companies. Having seen the first probe run its course on Monday when the opposition parties failed to garner the 151 votes needed to indict Pavlidis, Karamanlis instructed his deputies not to attend yesterday’s session. This prompted accusations from the opposition that the conservative are ridiculing the parliamentary process. The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) walked out, while PASOK said the government no longer had the trust of Parliament and that it should call immediate elections as a result. The Pavlidis matter is unlikely to end there for the government, as the Dodecanese MP is said to have enraged the prime minister by scheduling plans to appear at a number of public functions. Sources said that ND cadres were told not to give him a hero’s welcome when he returned to Rhodes yesterday. Meanwhile, Greek judicial authorities may be interested in information gathered by German prosecutors on truck manufacturer MAN AG, which is suspected of paying bribes in several countries to secure contracts. Sources said two deals with the ILPAP trolley bus company in 2001, worth 85 million euros, may be scrutinized.

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