OPINION

Commentary

Newspaper headlines and television debates over the actions of Constantine Mitsotakis’s former senior aide, retired Gen. Nikos Gryllakis, demonstrate that the main patient is actually the country’s political system – a system which political parties and their leaders have praised for its stability since 1974. A naval commodore, Antonis Naxakis, undertook a few years ago to transfer Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan to Greece, which nearly toppled Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s government and brought it close to war with Turkey. A general, Nikos Gryllakis, was allegedly negotiating the purchase of nuclear warheads with former KGB agents but Mitsotakis, then the prime minister, fortunately persuaded him not to for fear of international reaction. The problem, of course, is not whether Naxakis or Gryllakis were motivated by patriotism, as they claim, or acted completely irresponsibly, but rather that the political system allowed such initiatives, which are incompatible with a lawful state. There is essentially a power vacuum, in which the political system is only awakened and mobilized when it has to manage state property or EU funds. A government conscious of its responsibilities and aware of the country’s problems would not be concerned with the claims of a retired general whom it itself has utilized as a communications conduit with Skopje when PASOK returned to power in 1993. However, PASOK and the government are trying to bolster their electoral base, and have chosen to harp on Mitsotakis in a case going back to 1989 and to an alleged conspiracy with the CIA that aimed to topple Andreas Papandreou. No one, however, ever overthrew Papandreou. He merely lost the elections. He was not opposed by the CIA but by Greece’s citizens and governing elite. The only exception was some of his close aides and friends, who showed courage by being loyal when others remained silent or distanced themselves from the late PASOK founder. Clearly, the facts of history must be continually scrutinized for accuracy. But the ruling party, by attempting to stir chaos, is merely creating a repulsive atmosphere which, while aimed at Mitsotakis, mainly reveals its own politically primitive behavior. The post-1974 system was supposedly based on anti-dictatorial principles, elevated political dialogue, a responsible attitude toward citizens, transparency of political decisions, and a new morality which would prevent the resurrection of past evils. However, if one pieces together politicians’ public remarks as they seek to outdo each other, if one classified the charges of corruption, the squandering of public money, the immoral behavior, the arrogance and the disregard for public sentiment, then the picture would be even worse than that prevailing before the military dictatorship. Perhaps our overzealous politicians should consider that their efforts to maintain power are actually undermining the country’s stability.