A matter of perception

Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias is a decent, honest and modest politician. He provided New Democracy with an opening toward the middle ground, as he is known to avoid extremes and to be a practically minded politician. He has always seen himself as a leader among equals in the Cabinet and the truth is that the prime minister himself has given him every right to perceive himself as such. In politics, however, it is not how you see yourself, but how others see you. And this is where Souflias has run into trouble. We have often wondered at our editorial meetings whether we have done him an injustice in our admittedly harsh criticism of him. We have wondered if perhaps we are harboring something of an obsession. For the past 20 years, Kathimerini has proved that it can take a tough line, but this never happens because there’s a hidden agenda. And, yes, this newspaper can become obsessed with a subject and will continue to do so when it concerns ethical values and the protection of public interest. Obsession No 1: Every politician, a minister especially, must be and be seen to be in complete compliance with the law. Souflias may have become entangled in the nets of the monstrous zoning legislation but he should have avoided it, should not have covered it up and should have let the authorities deal with him as they would any other citizen. Obsession No 2: The environment minister is very important, yet Souflias continues to see environmental policy as nothing more than a necessary evil. Greece is constantly being slammed by the UN and the EU, and it is now abundantly clear that the country has neither an environment minister nor an environmental policy. The average citizen knows that if the minister doesn’t change his tactics, the government will eventually pay a heavy price.

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