Scorned by his coalition partners who rejected his offer to let the national broadcaster ERT – shut down on June 11 – almost immediately return to the air with a skeleton staff until it can be reorganized, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said investigations into the institution will find it’s a hotbed of mismanagement and corruption.
Without mentioning that it was his New Democracy Conservatives and the PASOK Socialists who critics said had used ERT as a dumping ground for incompetent political hires for years, Samaras said the truth will come out and embarrass the station’s supporters.
During a speech in the city of Naufplion, he said, “We had to do away with such an ERT for an investigation to start … those who rushed to defend ERT will regret it. When the embargo on information ends and the true face of ERT is revealed, some will start feeling ashamed,” he said.
He admitted that, “ERT had some remarkable people but we lost them because these circles prevailed that sponged off everything. This is what we are delivering the public TV from. We are abolishing ERT and creating an independent public TV. It will start straight away. It might even start within a week with the voting of special bill by the Parliament. We had an ERT, we didn’t have public briefing. We had extravagance and circles.”
His partners, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) head Fotis Kouvelis had agreed with him that there was a need to reduce the public workforce by 2,000 workers to meet demands of international lenders but that they were now retreating in the face of public opposition.
“It’s hypocrisy telling us to back off,” he said. “If we back off, what are we going to say? That those who have been convenienced will not be touched but we’re going to sacrifice others?” asking for popular support for the reforms that people are against. “The castles of those who are convenience have to fall,” he added.
“Some people can’t pay for everything and others get away with things forever,” he added. “I do not support massive layoffs in the public sector,” he said, especially during a period of great unemployment – but said he drew the line at what he called the “sinful” ERT – without noting that it was his party which had also packed the agency with political hires.
Of his reluctant coalition partners refusal to go along, he said, “Those who participate in the tripartite were saying so,” about ERT’s wastefulness, including major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras. “Now he is mourning for the abolition of the totally devalued,” operation, the Premier added.
He noted the constant strikes at ERT during the last 18 months which resulted in major news events not being covered, which he said hurt the country’s image abroad. Samaras complained that strikers were being paid by declaring themselves skeleton staff and that some ERT workers hadn’t shown up for years.
He said that a prosecutor is looking into alleged mismanagement and corruption at ERT for the first time, although it’s been a common secret in Greece that there were no-show jobs and favoritism being shown there – including a charge by workers that one of Samaras’ ministers had placed his daughter in a job and was paid three times more than senior editors.
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