OPINION

Dangerous stunts

When it comes to investigating the big scandals, Greek politicians are playing a very dangerous game. Cynical as it may sound, perhaps it would have been better not to set up all those parliamentary committees looking into the various scandals. Sure, that might have made people angry, but it seems likely that people will get even angrier now as some of the offenses which politicians have been charged with have expired under the statute of limitations. Meanwhile parties are indulging in a political blame game. The government knew from the very beginning how operation «clean hands» would end. Even a first-year law student could see that the statute of limitations would annul the whole procedure, and that the trick of bringing money-laundering charges instead would fall through. So what was the point of setting up a parliamentary committee when the outcome was known to everyone from the start? If this were a serious, professional investigation, then all this would have made some sense. In other words, if the members of the committee had known what to look for, if they had proper support, and if they had been bold enough to break some eggs, as it were, then people might get some satisfaction out of it. Even if the statute of limitations law made sure that no politician were subjected to a preliminary investigation, people would still have gotten a chance to hear some truths and draw some realistic conclusions about who is and isn’t to blame. But the parliamentary committees have failed to deliver. The investigation into the Siemens bribery scandal only skimmed the surface of the burning issues, such as the connection between Siemens and OTE telecom, or the kickbacks paid by the German electronics giant to Greek parties. Whether it was a matter of political will or courage, the investigation was like a Karagiozis shadow theater performance – where irrelevant people, people without the scientific support or proper tools, had to look into very significant issues. And then the tit for tat started, «If you go after Nikos Dendias, we will go after Costas Simitis,» and so on. Key figures in our political system seem to live in a world of their own. They are afraid of people’s anger and of the public demand to fight corruption, but instead of doing a professional job their think they can get away with cheap political stunts.