He’s retired and out of the public eye but former PASOK Socialist stalwart Theodoros Pangalos, known for shooting from the hip and sometimes shooting himself in the foot at the same time, just couldn’t resist taking shots at the party’s current leader, Evangelos Venizelos.
Pangalos, in an interview with Vima 99.5 FM also talked about the debacle surrounding the closing of the national broadcaster ERT by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader. Venizelos, who is a partner in the fragile administration, objected to it.
Pangalos blamed Venizelos for PASOK’s precipitous drop toward oblivion, from 44 percent of the vote when former leader George Papandreou was elected in 2009 before resigning two years later in the face of incessant protests against austerity, to 5-6 percent territory now.
The outspoken Pangalos also declared major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras as “illiterate” because of his poor English skills.
While he was serving as deputy prime minister under Papandreou, Pangalos didn’t speak out about ERT, which was packed with political hires for generations by his party and New Democracy. Now safely out of office, he said he’s discovered that, “ERT, as a state monopoly, is unacceptable” and urged the channel to operate “just like all the other stations, namely the free market.” He also criticized using ERT as a patronage dumping ground, although PASOK used it that way for years.
But while Papandreou has run away from his former finance minister George Papaconstantinou, who is being probed by Parliament for his handling of a list of Greeks with secret Swiss bank accounts that has never been checked for tax cheats, Pangalos said that Papaconstantinou is “one of the finest economists of the country and an honest man, who had no gain whatsoever from this case”.
He also said the failure of the gas supplier DEPA to gain a single bidder during a privatization program, in which the Russia company Gazprom walked away after displaying interest, was the fault of an American conspiracy to keep it out of Russian hands.