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No accountability for the powerful.

 

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This is our weekly round-up from Greece.
 

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And now, the news from last week.

The Prime Minister is the most heavily indebted political leader, according to the wealth declarations given to publicity. No one makes an issue of it. Plus, he and his wife still refuse to provide explanations as to the revelations for his allegedly false asset and funds declaration.

The Greek presidency canceled at the last moment the decoration of an internationally honored refugee rescuer. The only sufficient explanation appears to be that he is a critic of Greek refugee policy.

Covid19 situation is still troubling, especially on the islands. The Greek government once again resolves at their favorite solution - the police.
 


 

The Prime Minister’s proves heavily indebted in yet another “normal” day in Greece.


The asset and funds source declarations (“pothen esches” in Greek) of 1,114 politicians and high-ranking public servants, mayors and regional governors as well as MEPs and non-elected ministers were published on Thursday by the Committee in charge of the task at the Greek Parliament. The declarations refer to the financial year 2019.

According to their declaration, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis together with his wife Mareva Grabowski have a combined debt of 1.32 million euros. Their debt has skyrocketed since 2014 when according to our partner Vouli Watch’s comparison tool, it was zero.

Among other things, the prime ministerial couple appears to own 36 estates. It is interesting that according to Vouli Watch’s tool, in 2014 they owned only one.

Mitsotakis is the only party leader that has such high debt and so much property.

SYRIZA leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras has no debt and has one apartment and a plot together with his wife.

You can read the full wealth declaration of all Greek political leaders here

What can an indebted country with a frail economy expect from a highly indebted Prime Minister?

It is worth reminding that during Mitsotakis’s leadership, in the last four years, ND debt has reportedly risen by 118 million euros, reaching 342 million in total.

It’s also worth reminding that it is the ND government that passed the new insolvency law, which provides for draconian repercussions also for natural persons who cannot repay a debt as low as 20,000 euros. They are forced to declare bankruptcy. Confiscation of even their first residence and part of their income is provided for by this law.

Doesn’t this law apply to the Prime Minister and his party?

But there are more with Mitsotakis’s asset and funds declaration.

We have extensively analyzed in our two previous newsletters the Documento newspaper revealed that the PM and his wife were for four years filing a false asset and funds declaration, not declaring French company SCI Ventures where his wife -according to Documento- appeared to be a major stock-owner until 2020. This revelation was followed by a long silence by the PM, culminating in a harsh yet not answers-providing PM’s press release and his wife’s nonjudicial notice of default against Documento.

Well, Documento replied by sending also a nonjudicial notice of default against Mareva Grabowski, accusing her of not providing sufficient explanations on the matter and falsely accusing the newspaper of having political instructors constructing fake news that they then publish.

The PM had not registered the French off-shore SCI Personal Ventures in the newly published wealth declaration.

What is more, the Parliamentary Committee responsible for handling the wealth declarations postponed on Tuesday its scheduled Wednesday’s meeting indefinitely, on the pretext that there wasn’t an appropriate room for the meeting to be held. After strong reactions by the opposition, the meeting was finally held. However, it was revealed that the Committee had put Mr. Mitsotakis’s asset and funds declaration case along with other cases that ought to be further investigated “on the file” supposedly due to lack of evidence. This happened despite all the new evidence that had been published by Documento. Reactions were again fierce. The Committee attempted to justify this by responding that this happened “by mistake.”

Main opposition SYRIZA responded by providing all relevant data published relating to Mr Mitsotakis’s wealth declaration and officially requesting for the PM’s declarations of the last three years to be reexamined.

In other democratic countries, Prime Ministers have been held into account for less important issues. In Greece, the PM does not seem to feel accountable to his people.
 


 

Greek presidency cancels Internationally honored rescuer’s decoration apparently over his political views.


It happened on 23rd July, that is on the eve of the 47th Democracy Restoration Day, around midnight, after we had closed our previous newsletter. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted rescuer Iasonas Apostolopoulos to inform him that his decoration from the Presidency was canceled.

What had happened?

The Greek Presidency had officially announced that rescuer Iasonas Apostolopoulos was among those citizens to be decorated for their actions on the occasion of the 47th commemoration of the restoration of democracy on Saturday.

Apostolopoulos was to be awarded the Order of the Phoenix for his internationally acknowledged humanitarian work rescuing refugees in the Aegean and the Mediterranean seas.

A bit before midnight, ND MP Konstantinos Bogdanos, widely considered to be leaning to the far right of the political spectrum, tweeted: “Mr. Iasonas Apostolopoulos, an aggressive detractor of the Hellenic Democracy border protection policy and in general of the Security Bodies, will NOT be honored tomorrow by the President of Democracy at the celebratory event for the Restoration of Democracy, as it had been officially announced.” The MP attached screenshots of Apostolopoulos’s social media posts in which the rescuer criticized the pushbacks and government policy.

Bogdanos intervened as if he were representing the Presidency, breaching his constitutional role.

Less than half an hour after the MP’s tweet and fifteen minutes after midnight, Mr. Apostolopoulos reportedly received a phone call from a Foreign Affairs Ministry representative, informing him that “unfortunately, the case for your decoration is not sufficiently documented and it will be canceled.” When the rescuer asked if the Presidency is informed on this, the representative replied that the Foreign Ministry and the Presidency decide together on these issues, providing no further explanations.

When Apostolopoulos was asked by the Press Project to comment on this, he said among others: “Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to follow closely what is happening in Greece. At this moment, we are in the central Mediterranean on the Doctors Without Frontiers rescuing boat Geo Barents. Our priorities here are different.”

After social media became enraged with what happened with Apostolopoulos, the rescuer posted on Facebook:

“A big thank you and a huge hug to all of you for the messages of support. Words from the outside world are breathing us strength when we are on the boat, like now. Moreover, I am glad that our state shows sincerity. At a period that rescuing refugees has become criminalized, bringing heavy consequences (dozens of ships have been confiscated and activists have been under persecution), it fully makes sense for a rescuer to be dealt with as a political opponent.

”At a period when European states do whatever in their powers to make witnesses vanish from the European borders so that they can apply without interruption their murderous practices, it fully makes sense solidarity to be encountered as an offense. 

”Only in the last 15 months, the Greek authorities have thrown thousands of men, women, and children at the Aegean sea, leaving them adrift in liferafts. The only response to the videos released all the time is issuing arrest warrants for the people who publicize them.

”Under these circumstances, it is self-evident that the Greek state could never be decorated on these grounds, more so to decorate someone else.

”As for us. Our biggest reward is the smiles and the hugs on the deck when life beats death when solidarity beats barbarism. And it is those we carry with us forever. These decorations deserve all the efforts of the world.

”Proud ‘aggressive detractor’ forever.”

On Thursday, Apostolopoulos gave an interview on Greek TV, in which he harshly criticized the pushbacks.

There have been “press releases, testimonies from dozens of refugees, we have videos from international media like BBC, CNN, Deutsche Welle. We have very aggressive press releases even from the UN High Commissioner - and they all refer to a fully organized and systematic Greek authorities practice, especially since March 2020, in the context of which violence against asylum seekers in Greek soil has highly increased,” he said. He added that “it is an unprecedented, unique world phenomenon where a Coast Guard, not only does not rescue castaways, as international treaties provide for, but it actually creates them. Thus, there are cases in which Hellenic Coast Guard officers when they detect people who have already arrived at the Greek islands, not only they do not register them, as they ought, but they temporarily keep them in secret places and at night, threatening them with guns, they put them in liferafts, they tow them and throw them in the middle of the sea with no engine, with no rudder, expecting the wave to carry them to the Turkish waters.” 

Apostolopoulos emphasized that “the issue has received great publicity, but in Greece, we have a serious problem with the Press. It’s like a gravestone of silence has fallen upon the Greek Press and I think, in a historic perspective, the extent of a crime becomes obvious by the huge difference in journalist coverage in the country and abroad. It is not normal to find out what’s happening in my country from the BBC and the New York Times. This reminds us of other regimes.”

Until these lines were written, the Presidency had issued no press release on the matter of canceling the rescuer’s decoration.

For the record, Iason Apostolopoulos has been decorated for his work in rescuing and helping refugees by the Danish Maritime Ministry with the Nautical Award 2021 and by Palermo mayor as an honorary citizen of the city.
 


 

Beating Covid19 “the Greek way.” 


Greece’s authorities updated the Covid map on Thursday as the epidemiological burden is increasing in many parts of the country but also on the islands. The result is that with few exceptions of regions and islands at the lowest Green level, the majority of regions are at the increased surveillance levels Yellow and Orange.

The islands of Mykonos and Ios in the Cyclades have been warned by Civil Protection head Hardalias they are just a step before restriction measures are imposed due to the increase of coronavirus infections.

However, restriction measures have just been lifted last Monday on Mykonos, only a week after they were imposed, and with no significant epidemiological change on the island. The measures were no music in catering facilities and night curfew from 1 to 6 a.m. Even during this week, parties reportedly continued in villas and yachts.

What did the government decide to do to encounter the problem? Send the police.

In what seems like a summer version of the winter repressive policies, Citizen Protection Minister Chrysochoides stated that Covid19 containment in Mykonos would be realized by “registering” the houses that “could possibly host parties.” He also stated he had sent on the island some 186 policemen and “they have arrested thieves, drugs, a very serious work is underway.”

When asked to comment on the lack of Covid19 hotels (in our previous newsletter, we referred to people testing positive to Covid19 on the islands and not being able to find a place in a quarantined hotel), he said that “if we have many Covid hotels, at the end we won’t have hotels.”

As to Ios island (famous for the youth partying hard on it), he announced that “tomorrow morning [Thursday], 30 very active policemen, combative, will be sent on the island to impose order and some measures, and also some undercover policemen, so that in a few days there would be no problem on the island.”

Kathimerini newspaper verified that there is an “emergency plan” for Ios and Paros (where also 75 policemen are reported to have been sent.) According to this plan,  the police and Civil Protection would undertake to avert a possible lockdown.

At the same time, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control warned against visiting popular Greek islands over Covid-19. Greece’s south Aegean islands were marked “dark red” by the body. The cluster of 13 islands includes Greece's most popular destinations for foreign tourists - Mykonos, Santorini, and Rhodes - which, combined, draw millions of people every summer.

Last week however the rate of increase in new cases was 12% nationwide compared to the period from July 7 to 14, when the daily infection rate more than doubled. Some scientists are now predicting that the current wave of the pandemic will peak in the first half of August.

On Friday, Greek health authorities announced 12 deaths and 2,845 new cases of the coronavirus, while the number of patients on ventilators was 165 early Friday afternoon, up from 157 a day earlier and 130 last Friday. A record 118,933 tests were administered, with 2.39% turning positive.
 


 

Read.
 

Stefanos Ntouskos won the men’s single sculls and claimed the first medal and thus a Gold one for Greece at the Olympic Games of Tokyo. He later stated in an interview he had no support from the State.

State ERT TV fires sports journalist over racist comment against Korean athletes.

Man stabs wife to death, claims “jealousy”; second femicide in 12 days.

Brussels approves Greek ESPA: Package to offer 26.1 bln euros until 2027, including increased funds managed by regions.

Two forest fires rage in ΝΕ Athens, residents evacuated in Stamata.

Greeks split over a pathway, elevator construction for disabled Parthenon visitors: Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant learned that UNESCO itself is unhappy that it was not consulted before construction.

Adrift in uncertain waters: Migrant pushbacks in the Aegean - Forced returns of migrants between Greek and Turkish waters continue to increase.

Greek Authorities Target NGOs Reporting Abuses against Migrants.

'Welcome to global warming': Greece warns against unnecessary work as temperatures soar.

Greece raises the minimum wage by 2%, PM Mitsotakis announced: The minimum wage would become 663 from 650 euros.

A reward of €18,000 for any information about the killing of seal Kostis.
 

 
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