Regrettable statements

Former prime minister Costas Simitis used to declare that «Whoever has any evidence should take it to the public prosecutor» whenever then-opposition New Democracy denounced cases of corruption. The argument was clearly unacceptable, since PASOK had sole responsibility for the proper management of public funds. If Simitis, who was liable for his ministers’ actions, was so sure that contracts, commissions and state expenditures in general were impeccable, he should have said so publicly. If he had doubts, the judiciary should have dealt with it on his initiative. Having expressed these views during Simitis’s terms in office, this writer can only describe the use of the same argument by Culture Minister (and former Public Order Minister) Giorgos Voulgarakis on the subject of wiretaps as equally unacceptable. It is like a politician hinting that he knows something that would discredit his opponents without making it public. The exercise of power is not a private matter which allows evidence of guilt to be concealed. Any party in power must respond with evidence, which the opposition monitors; this is a basic tenet of democracy. Statements such as «whoever has any evidence should take it to the public prosecutor» or the earlier «you have no right to speak» betray the authoritarianism and arrogance typically displayed by a government long in power, while the public will construe them as avoidance or even an attempt to conceal incriminating evidence. After two years as a minister, Voulgarakis should have avoided such behavior – especially after ND campaigned against PASOK’s authoritarianism and arrogance and championed moderation and modesty. There is a worrying suspicion that what ND and others decried as PASOK’s system may, in fact, be an overall pattern of behavior that is not only hard to cure but is contagious.