PM’s declarations too vague, too late

It is difficult for one to disagree with the content of Monday’s message from Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Indeed, the PM exploited his public relations acumen to deliver a string of reassurances on a range of his government’s policies. «The government operates on the basis of unnegotiable principles and values to protect national interests, citizens’ security and transparency,» he said. He added that the phone-tapping scandal was being addressed «with seriousness and a heightened sense of responsibility and unshakable dedication to public interests.» Karamanlis went on to stress that he «supported the justice system» and declared that the authorities were «determined to live up to their responsibilities and defend national interests and citizens’ rights.» It is not easy to fault the premier for his intentions. But his preparation for announcing them probably did him more harm than good. Highlighting the obvious is no substitute for concrete change. But besides this, the references he did make were not specific enough. In any case, the PM’s declarations would have carried far greater weight had they been made when the government first found out about the phone-tapping scandal, not 11 months after the fact. The same goes for the government’s meetings with officials from «independent authorities,» aimed at establishing the tighter operation and more effective monitoring of mobile telephony and other sectors. «The era of cover-ups has passed, never to return… The state will be ruthless,» Karamanlis proclaimed. How much more convincing these words would have been 11 months ago.