OPINION

A nation obsessed with corruption

Once upon a time, everything in Greece was corrupt. Or at least that’s how everything was dubbed. Corruption was the fashionable word and the term used to describe both legal and illicit business transactions with the state, relationships between journalists and politicians, the social ties between political figures and businessmen and so on. Even joint initiatives between labor unions with the same goals were defined as corruption. In those days, everyone had their own ax to grind, which fueled a never-ending debate about the existence of corruption in public life, under which actual corruption thrived. When virtually everything is corrupt then nothing can be regarded as illegal anymore. Corruption becomes a part of life, and it is rather difficult to bring legal charges against the whole of society. From time to time, corruption (or what we refer to as corruption) prevails in Greece. Even simple transactions on the country’s street markets are viewed as corruption under a different name – profiteering. According to the assertions of a former PASOK minister during a recent radio interview, corruption even exists within the European Union’s ministerial councils, with the major milk-producing member states having forged a joint stance to support their common interests. (We might regard it as wrong that certain European countries promote their own interests but did we not do the same with certain Mediterranean products?) In any case, the never-ending debate about corruption provides a convenient cover for corrupt practices. In today’s Greece, we believe there are cartels everywhere – in the dairy industry and the mobile telephony sector, in the cement and biscuit business, in supermarket chains and the banking sector. And the truth is that there may well be cartels. The harmonized prices on the market suggest this. But prices alone do not prove anything. Similar prices may be the result of tough competition between different firms. The existence, or not, of cartels can only be proven after thorough investigation. But unfortunately, once again, the constant debate and speculation will probably provide a smokescreen for illicit transactions to be carried out unseen.