OPINION

Remedial action

The controversial Halkidiki resort development proposal is not a simple issue, nor is it solved with the resignation of Deputy Finance Minister Christos Pachtas or the firing of the nine PASOK deputies who signed the amendment. Apart from underscoring the murky deal between government officials and a private company for the deforestation of an area to build tourist homes, the case also uncovered a host of legal irregularities: constitutional, legal, institutional and punitive irregularities appear to have become a habit. Had a regular citizen committed such wrongdoings, he or she would face prosecution and social exclusion. The deputy minister failed to understand what was going on, to check, or even to take notice of the situation. In the worst-case scenario, he tried to whip an amendment through Parliament without consulting the responsible minister in order to serve the interests of his constituency. Whatever the case may be, Pachtas must be held accountable for his actions. The same applies to the nine deputies, especially former Deputy Education Minister Yiannis Anthopoulos, who appears to be the driving force behind the tailor-made amendment and who has business ties with the private company that stood to benefit from the provisions. Furthermore, Anthopoulos is accused of having forged the signatures of his colleagues on the proposal. This raises a different issue. Apart from denying that they ever signed the document, some deputies also claim ignorance of its content. This shows that some amendments – in other words, legislation voted in Parliament – are the product of illegal procedures that may include forging of signatures. The Constitution has been breached, Parliament’s rules violated, and the parliamentary ethos tainted. Such legal irregularities and parliamentary fraud nurture corruption and unlawful exchange that eventually undermines democratic institutions, in which the political system does favors for business interests in exchange for pre-election support and funding. And there are other, far more important legal regulations currently permeating our life and private interests, which may well have been passed in Parliament under similar circumstances. The latest incident demonstrates the need to safeguard institutional procedures and to follow them religiously. The country and its political system have been damaged by the lack of transparency and the corruption of its institutions and of individual consciences. There is no room for more compromise. The State must set up a new system that will adhere to rules and principles respected by all.