What Simitis failed to say in his book

In the final analysis, the most interesting aspect of any memoirs by a former prime minister is not what is said but what is not said. Former PASOK premier Costas Simitis needed 670 pages to record initiatives taken during his time in power, but it would have taken far less space for him to express his opinion, and this would have made for an extremely useful and respectable contribution – a step toward reform, something to stir debate. By contrast, the persistent projection of a functional egotism does nothing for the country, and will do nothing for Simitis’s posthumous profile. The ex-premier does not appear to grasp the fact that a catalog of tame initiatives does not constitute genuine political reform. Apparently put to sleep by the back patting of friendly benefactors, Simitis appears to regard political history with icy distance: He refuses to accept responsibility for the fiasco surrounding the escape of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan, making the outrageous claim that «the existence of an irresponsible para-state in the critical defense sector» had been to blame, and blaming this, in turn, on «the emotional turmoil… (of) a certain section of society and the political world… which lacked heroes and symbols to look up to.» Evidently, Simitis’s memoirs will do little to remedy this.

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