OPINION

Entangled interests must be sundered

“Television channel owners cannot be contractors for the public sector as well,» Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras said yesterday, underscoring the government’s determination to implement the law as it stands in the Constitution, and purge Greece’s economic and political system of graft and corruption. In the past, when others remained silent or tried to shirk their responsibilities, Kathimerini would castigate the conflicting interests of media owners who also controlled public construction firms. This was, undisputedly, a source of political and business entanglement. The newspaper has often pointed out that this connection distorts free market competition and results in monopolies and abuse of power. Furthermore, we have emphasized the need to stick to the Constitution and criticized the so-called Venizelos law (named after former Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos), a legal loophole that allowed relatives of construction company owners to hold sizable interests in the media. It is common knowledge that this dual status undermined healthy competition and the principles of a functioning free market economy, squandered precious funds, turned public projects into objects for unfettered profiteering, fueled political corruption and was a severe temptation to most of the media to manipulate public opinion. The relationship was so close that a plethora of freshly minted businessmen tried to gain access to public projects and state commissions by acquiring control of a television channel, a radio station or a newspaper. Their obvious aim was to put pressure on the State, to outmaneuver or dodge competition, to fix public projects, and make a fortune for themselves and their cronies. This vicious circle has to end, and it has to end now. The shady dealings of the previous administration, with the repercussions on politics, the economy and society, leave no room for havering or delay. Now that things are clear and the new government has a powerful mandate from the people, it is in a position to put an end to this dual status, which has engendered the entanglement of politicians with business interests that have mired the political system in corruption.