by Sarantis Michalopoulos
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday warned his deputies to be ready to face “turmoil” ahead of the national elections, a statement interpreted by the opposition as “fear” about new revelations regarding the wiretapping scandal.
“We’re going to have turmoil; we’re going to face a lot of toxicity. And this is because no one can oppose our work. They [opposition] also haven’t said anything about what they’re going to do in the next four years because they simply can’t talk and present a comprehensive plan”, Mitsotakis told his lawmakers.
Mitsotakis also said the elections could be held in April or May, and a second round is expected four weeks later.
According to analysts, a new electoral law will apply in the next elections, which will require a coalition government to rule the country.
The first round will be held based on a simple majority, while for the second one, a party will need approximately 37% of the vote to form a government. Otherwise, the party that ranks first must seek partners to govern.
The opposition interpreted Mitsotakis’ statement about upcoming “turmoil” as “fear” about revelations regarding the ongoing wiretapping scandal, the so-called “Greek Watergate”.
In the “Greek Watergate” scandal, several politicians, journalists and businessmen were surveilled by Greek secret services, which were under the personal control of Mitsotakis (EPP).
Greek chief prosecutor fuelled the fire after he issued a controversial opinion suggesting that the country’s privacy watchdog – the Hellenic Authority for Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE) – cannot conduct audits on telecommunication companies to determine which citizens are under surveillance.
Following strong reactions by several influential legal analysts and the opposition parties, ADAE – whose function is provided by the constitution – ignored the prosecutor’s opinion and carried on its audits.
ADAE ready to ‘push the button’
News website News247.gr reports that ADAE’s chief Christos Rammos is “ready to push the button”.
According to the website, ADAE has finalised its audits and has gathered evidence documenting surveillance activities by the Greek secret services on politicians and members of the army’s leadership.
ADAE’s next step will be to inform the members of the Greek parliament about the findings.
For its part, the government is preparing its defence.
Referring to an article on Documento journal, which suggested that there is a report by Greek secret services about the personal and professional life of the Greek army chief, a government spokesman gave a diplomatic answer indicative of the defence line.
“These alleged reports have never reached the government or the prime minister,” Gianni Oikonomou said.
“If we assume that they have some basis of truth and some – operating out of context – within the secret services, did such things, what is the relationship of those who have in their possession today this material with those who carried out these out of context activities within the secret services?” Oikonomou said.
Mitsotakis, although the first law he enacted as prime minister was to take secret services at his helm, has said he has no clue about surveillance activities.
The “Greek Watergate” has displeased the European Parliament.
Renew Europe, the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the Greens and the EU Left have all accused the government of trying to cover up the scandal.
“The way the Greek authorities are handling the clarification of the matter is an alarm signal that the country is already on an advanced path towards an autocratic state,” MEP Hannes Heide, the S&D coordinator in the European Parliament’s PEGA committee that is looking into the matter, told EURACTIV last week.
The S&D has also called on the EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Commission’s Greek Vice-President Margaritis Schinas to break their silence over the matter claiming that they put Union’s credibility to the test.
The EU Parliament’s PEGA committee also came up with ten recommendations with the most remarkable one suggesting taking the secret services off Mitsotakis’ hands.
*first published in: Euractiv.com