Parliamentary officials yesterday fiercely defended Greek MPs’ controversial decision on Thursday to give the highly-prized permanent civil servant status to their secretaries, who will be replaced by better qualified assistants. «It was a fair decision for which I assume full responsibility and by no means do I consider it a display of nepotism, as I have never shown signs of such behavior in the past,» Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis said. Many MPs employ members of their families as secretaries. In the future, these will be replaced by specialized university graduates with good language skills. On Thursday, socialist and conservative MPs voted to give other permanent civil service jobs to their outgoing secretaries who have served for at least two years after 1994. Both small left-wing parties voted against the motion. Permanent civil servant status is particularly valued in Greece, where state employees cannot be sacked. An estimated 90,000 people hold public sector jobs on precarious short-term contracts that can easily be terminated.