OPINION

Sadness or self-criticism?

We have no reason to doubt former Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s sadness and outrage against Anastasios Mantelis, who was PASOK’s transport minister at the time Simitis was in power and who has cynically admitted to accepting a «pre-election donation» from the Greek branch of German electronics giant Siemens. The former Socialist premier is naturally sad and upset. He has recently seen two of his close aides – Mantelis and Theodoros Tsoukatos – charged with taking bribes. Both of these men have been the subjects of much angry criticism from a furious public. The question is this: Who is going to be next in line? Are we in for further revelations concerning the reformist administration of 1996-2004? Is there any end to the nation’s political and moral decline? Simitis has every reason to be sad and, perhaps even scared. Faced with its own extinction, the fracturing political system will certainly not hesitate to sacrifice any political figure who is not crucial to its own survival. Any politicians that are seen to be burdened with sins such as having reaped illegal gains will be thrown to the angry mob. Like sandbags, they will be discarded to keep the hot-air balloon of the political system afloat. As fear and rage grow, former senior officials and ministers will feel the heat. Simitis must not allow his disappointment to cloud his memory. After all, it was he who, when urged to take a stance regarding the incompetence and corruption dogging his reformist administration, told Parliament, «That’s Greece,» and for «anyone who has any evidence to present it to the prosecutor.» At a time of crisis – in reality, a much smaller crisis than the current one – the prime minister of what he liked to describe as a «strong Greece» ducked responsibility despite the orgy of kickbacks, entangled interests and squandering of money from the state coffers that was going on around him. Simitis never addressed the matter of corruption nor did he punish any of the Socialist officials who were responsible for it. We also share Simitis’s outrage and sadness. But we would really like to see some more self-criticism.