Minister’s stance

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s intention, which he declared in no uncertain terms even before being elected to office – to strengthen the mechanisms for eradicate entangled interests and to strike at state corruption – is already being carried out by means of specific policies. Apart from a number of control systems imposed by ministerial decree in various sensitive areas of the State’s services and following the alteration of the notorious «mathematical formula» for assigning public works projects, the political leadership has tabled in Parliament the bill restricting media entrepreneurs from holding a major share in firms undertaking public works – an issue of broad national interest. Any well-intentioned politician realizes the significance of the effort the Karamanlis government is making. Naturally, there has been no dearth of voices raised among the ranks of the main opposition, who, citing legal issues and raising tenuous political arguments, are trying to present the bill as inferior to the law passed by the previous PASOK government. These politicians (some of whom for years have had warm and friendly relations with certain media organizations) describe the new bill as being «unfeasible in practice» and, moreover, incompatible with European Union law. Naturally their stance carries no weight in politics or, for that matter, among the public. However, what is significant is the position taken by a government minister who, though he himself co-signed the bill on the «main shareholder,» has publicly expressed reservations as to its compatibility with EU law. Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias is adopting a legal position made by PASOK officials. He is doing so even though some of his very well-informed associates, who have dealt with the issue in an official capacity, have refuted the criticisms raised by the main opposition party. Naturally, the minister’s stance raises certain questions. The main shareholder issue has been extremely displeasing for certain opposition officials and prominent media entrepreneurs seeking contracts in the field of public works. Of course, the job of interpreting Souflias’s concerns is exclusively that of the prime minister.