OPINION

For the sake of tradition

Twenty years ago, when businessman George Koskotas was charged with bribing politicians, he threatened to name names. Now, the ex-managing director of Siemens Hellas, Michalis Christoforakos, is saying that he will be singing the names of the ministers and MPs who had their palms greased by the German electronics giant. As it turns out, we really haven’t seen that much progress in 20 years. According to the latter’s lawyers, there are 12 former New Democracy and PASOK ministers, and 153 former and serving MPs who have been captured on CD-ROM and are supposedly losing sleep over allegations by the chief palm-greaser of the greasy Siemens that they were given a variety of privileges, on the sly, be it money or goods, or even «discounts» – that went as low as they themselves had sunk – on electronic appliances. Yet, it is doubtful any of the bribe takers have lost any sleep. In fact, many are probably on TV every day, preaching truth and transparency. There is nothing to fear if you do not fear your own conscience: All other things – laws, obligations, institutions – are nice to talk about, and what’s even nicer is that they are only talked about. Has any politician, even one, willingly resigned, because he is weighed down by guilt? No law on prescription (or rather, in favor of prescription) would be effective if the prescription had not already taken place in advance in the mind and soul of the person thinking about succumbing to temptation. We have already heard far too many statements from those that tasted Siemens’s «privileges,» as they attempt to exonerate themselves. As for actual money changing hands, the former aide of ex-Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Theodoros Tsoukatos, in a memo to the prosecutor in the Siemens case, said quite simply that he had followed a practice adopted by both big political parties, in the past and and in the present. So, we can put it all down to tradition, and here in Greece, we are taught from a tender age to respect tradition.