Government doublespeak

Watching the meeting of Parliament’s Institutional Transparency Committee yesterday, the general consensus was that the government failed to present a consistent argument. Despite the seriousness of the phone-tapping incident, the two conservative ministers who are handling the case failed to present a unified front. It was the second time they did so after the joint press briefing last week. At that time, Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras was very cautious in his remarks. In contrast, Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis’s response was no less than a shock to the public. Firstly, Voulgarakis acknowledged that the authorities had failed to ensure the privacy of cellphone communications – including those of the prime minister. Secondly, he praised Vodafone Greece CEO Giorgos Koronias in public despite the latter’s decision to deactivate the spy software that wiped out the tracks of the culprits. During yesterday’s parliamentary committee, Voulgarakis did not hesitate to put the cart before the horse of the judicial investigation, saying that the suicide of a Vodafone technician, Costas Tsalikidis, was not connected to the eavesdropping affair. Papaligouras, on the other hand, stressed that the Justice Ministry will investigate all aspects of the matter, including the suicide, which has raised many unanswered questions. When pressured, the justice minister actually distanced himself from the top judges who are looking into the case. Papaligouras’s responsible stance is contributing to the government’s image and credibility. The same cannot be said of the public order minister, who has for the second time contradicted public sentiment and common sense. The ongoing double-talk within the New Democracy government is seriously undermining its credibility. It must clarify its position and present a unified stand. If the ministers fail to do so, then the prime minister must impose it. After all, this is a very important case that must stand above in-party bickering.

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