The personal prestige of Karamanlis was what kept him in power after this and it was certainly the Achilles’ heel of PASOK, whose leader, and present prime minister, George Papandreou was shown in the same polls as seriously lagging behind the charismatic Karamanlis.
Obviously it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that someone who decides to do away with corruption in the system, and that is well liked by the majority of the people is not going to be liked by the “system”, now is he?
While in office, he emphasized fighting political and economic corruption, privatization of some state-run enterprises and job creation, and improving education and other services, and was partially successful but he continually hit a wall by the socialist party whose leader could not measure up to Karamanlis in any way. In 2007 his government narrowly retained its majority, but he lost a snap election in October 2009 when alleged corruption scandals brought down his government and his popularity.
This is what brought down his government, and not the sudden popularity of George Papandreou. The media barrons, corporations and banks that Karamanlis was battling against were the cause behind his defeat to Papandreou and nothing else.
Why all this introduction? Well… over the past few weeks many articles have surfaced about the last few years of Karamanlis in office. From alleged bond scandals, to an alleged scandal about the Vatopedi monastery, to even an assassination plot, etc. We even found out this week that the US Embassy was behind the wire-tapping of the former prime minister.
And one really has to wonder what the hell is going on?
It is almost like there was a conspiracy to topple his government so that the present government could gain power.
Now I don’t want to make room for conspiracies so its best to look over the facts and I will allow all of you to judge for yourselves. Before I do I just want to say that it is a shame that our allies operate in this way.
I have so many friends in the United States and they are some of the finest people I know. I cannot, and will not allow anyone on this blog to bash US citizens on account of several corporations and strong interests that operate in their country and that totally want to destabilize this entire region for their benefit. This is cruel and unfair and it is also stereotyping. So please, if you are going to comment on this article, stick to the facts, and steer them away from the American people!
When the Karamanlis government decided to move ahead with the Bourgas-Alexandroupoli piepleine which would carry Russian gas to Europe it went against the interests of the US Greco-Turkish pipeline.
After the end of the Cold War the US and Russia have been in competition with one another in Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and in other parts of the world, on how they will control energy supplies and gain transport routes to international markets. Through its influence, the US has taken hold of the flow of energy in Ukraine, Poland, several Baltic countries, and has tried to implement its own conditions on the flow of Russian gas to Europe, thus making its own project or the so-called Greek-Turkish pipeline more appealing and attractive to European markets, (some may recall the black-outs in Ukraine last year).
A serious dispute began in March 2005 over the price of natural gas supplied and the cost of transit. During this conflict, Russia claimed Ukraine was not paying for gas, but diverting it intended to be exported to the EU from the pipelines. Ukrainian officials at first denied the accusation, but later Naftogaz admitted that natural gas intended for other European countries was retained and used for domestic needs. The dispute reached a crescendo on January 1, 2006, when Russia cut off all gas supplies passing through Ukrainian territory. On January 4, 2006, a preliminary agreement between Russia and Ukraine was achieved, and the supply was restored. The situation calmed until October 2007 when new disputes began over Ukrainian gas debts. This led to reduction of gas supplies in March 2008. During the last months of 2008, relations once again became tense when Ukraine and Russia could not agree on the debts owed by Ukraine. In January 2009, this disagreement resulted in supply disruptions in many European nations, with eighteen European countries reporting major drops in or complete cut-offs of their gas supplies transported through Ukraine from Russia. In September 2009 officials from both countries stated they felt the situation was under control and that there would be no more conflicts over the topic, at least until the Ukrainian 2010 presidential elections. However, in October 2009, another disagreement arose about the amount of gas Ukraine would import from Russia in 2010. Ukraine intended to import less gas in 2010 as a result of reduced industry needs because of its economic recession; however, Gazprom insisted that Ukraine fulfill its contractual obligations and purchase the previously agreed upon quantities of gas.
The Burgas–Alexandroupoli pipeline project would of transported Russian and Caspian oil from the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas to the Greek Aegean port of Alexandroupoli. It would have been an alternative route for Russian oil for bypassing the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. There are several competitive pipeline projects, such as the AMBO pipeline from Burgas to Vlorë, Pan-European Pipeline from Constanţa to Trieste, Odessa-Brody-Plotsk pipeline, Kiykoy-Ibrice pipeline, and Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline – all aimed to transport oil from the Black Sea bypassing Turkish straits. The project of the Bourgas–Alexandroupoli pipeline is described as one of the shortest pipeline through a plain terrain and therefore to be one of the cheapest and cost effective.
In other words, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline was the latest Russian move in an increasingly complex trans-continental rivalry over oil and gas pipelines from Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus to Europe and then to global markets. It also represents a Russian effort to outflank the recent moves by Kazakhstan to join the BTC pipeline and ship its oil through a projected Trans-Caspian pipeline under the Caspian Sea that Moscow opposes.
The Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project is clearly part of a broader Russo-Western struggle over energy policy and foreign influence in the CIS. Washington is supporting a series of infrastructure and energy projects in Eurasia whose explicit objective is to deny the possibilities for Russia to monopolize every kind of energy source in Central Asia and the Caucasus and Russia seeks to advance its monopolistic agenda with regard to Central Asia by its own projects like this one. Europe, likewise, has woken up to the need of diversifying energy supplies. Only coherent and unified efforts by Washington and the EU can advance projects to counter this Russian trend. This includes strengthening resolve to complete the EUâ€™s Nabucco pipeline or to help develop the Baku-Erzurum pipelines. But it remains to be seen where this struggle goes and who will prevail in the struggle over infrastructure and pipelines in Eurasia. While the outcome of this rivalry cannot be foreseen now, it can be predicted that this struggle is likely to intensify and spread into ever wider economic and geographic zones.
The Conclusion: It is obvious that Karamanlis’ decision to approach Russia, in regards to the Russian natural gas pipeline, did not comply with US interests.
Right after Karamanlis’ decision to move ahead with the Russian project, o “so called scandal” suddenly exploaded out of nowhere involving the bonds market.
According to press reports at the time, unstructured bonds were sold in Feb 2007 to state pension funds. They had been underwritten by JP Morgan for the government and later sold to North Asset Management at 92.95% of their nominal value. These bonds were eventually bought by state pension funds at very high prices in the secondary market. The government-brokered arrangement came under criticism from the public as well as the opposition. In June, North Asset Management and J P Morgan under pressure and criticism agreed to buy the complete bonds issue to cover up the losses pension funds had made. Minister of Labour Savvas Tsitouridis was sacked after the incident and charges of money laundering were framed against him.
For months, the Greek media bashed Karamanlis on this subject, trying to defame him and spearheaded by this so called scandal, but much to their surprise Karamanlis still had a big lead over PASOK and his opponent George Papandreou. But the climate was not in his favour, so he called federal elections on September 16, 2007. It was a smart move because it did not allow “the system” to continue to alter the public’s opinion on him.
Interesting is the Wikileaks cable on this issue
ELECTIONS: SOONER THE BETTER —————————-
(C) PM Karamanlis himself probably did not know yet when he would call the next elections, according to Archondakis but the governor believed they should be called soon. He was aware of ND’s recent slide in the opinion polls in relation to PASOK due to the social security bond scandal and the government’s seeming inability to control forest fires, which had just a few days prior destroyed large forest areas on Crete. But the governor believed ND needed the elections before the next EU budget, which could cause further voter resentment. C) The governor also believed the PM should Qcored the importance of the rule-of-law issue for the current government, with which the governor also agreed.
Original cable here
The 2008 Greek riots started on 6 December 2008, when Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a 15-year-old student, was killed by two policemen in Exarcheia district of central Athens. The murder of a young student by police resulted in large protests and demonstrations, which escalated to widespread rioting, with hundreds of rioters damaging property and engaging riot police with Molotov cocktails, stones and other objects. Demonstrations and rioting soon spread to several other cities, including Thessaloniki, the country’s second-largest city.
What was not said, however, but later published via a Wikileaks cable was how the US viewed the riots.
The unrest has deeply polarized society, with youth of all socio-economic backgrounds generally supporting the demonstrations, and most people over thirty condemning the violence. Although it is difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of the riots, major contributing factors included: — the insular, hothouse atmosphere of Greece´s few hundred ultra-radical “anarchists;” — popular frustration with corruption and political leaders; — the disillusionment of the youth, who see fewer economic opportunities than previous generations did; — irresponsible and inflammatory media coverage branding the shooting as cold-blooded murder; — demoralized Greek security forces, weakened by post-junta limits and public distrust; and — popular sympathy (and in some cases nostalgia) for the radical left and public tolerance of expressions of opposition through violent means
The government response was characterized by PM Karamanlis´ absence, and most government announcements were left to Minister of Interior Pavlopoulos. The government apparently instructed the police to respond solely with a defensive posture. We believe the Prime Minister wanted to avoid any additional deaths or any platform for grievances and negotiations with the authorities (such as an occupied government building). Many Greeks believe the Karamanlis government mishandled the situation — both by not taking a tougher stance against the violence but also by having allowed socioeconomic conditions to deteriorate. Thus, most Greeks, including those who would normally be Karamanlis supporters, now believe it is only a matter of time before the PM has to call new elections, although Karamanlis appears resolutely opposed to doing so. We expect the opposition to continue to press hard to bring down the government, and we expect the government to take steps to show leadership and action, including likely Cabinet changes
Read the whole Wikileaks cable here
Of course, all fires that damaged the southern Peloponnese did not ignite on account of political reasons, and certainly his cabinet did not do what it had to in case it had to face a state emergency of that magnitude and finally I agree that many mistakes were made. But, never before in the history of this country did fires of that magnitude occur. Karamanlis’ government did everything that a nation can do when faced with such a catastrophe.
Greece’s conservative government, headed by Costas Karamanlis, could face defeat in the forthcoming elections as anger mounted yesterday over its performance in tackling the forest fires that have ravaged the country.
Greece’s conservative prime minister Costas Karamanlis has asked the president to dissolve parliament, and has called a snap general election for September 16th. It is some six months earlier than he needed to go to the polls, and he may be seeking to cash in on healthy opinion polls, four percent growth, a public defict slashed by more than half in the last two years, and falling unemployment. The Socialist leader Georges Papandreou faces an uphill struggle to claw back Karamanlis’s lead. With the economy looking healthy he may plug away at a series of minor scandals, the government’s handling of bad summer fires, and the slowness of the government reforms demanded by the EU, notably on pensions.
But no one, not even those who create policies on the coffins of those innocent souls that died during the fires can claim that fires, of this magnitutde, at the given time, and given period occurred by chance. There is of course evidence to prove this theory, which has somehow been ignored by the Greek mainstream media, who at the time was totally against Karamanlis. Such as the numerous prank calls to the Fire Department for alleged fires in various parts of Attica, causing the division fire fighters, when fires were igniting with incendiary devices and that ended up burning the last suburban woodands surrounding Athens. The perpetrators were apparently professionals since they could not be tracked.
This last point does not intend to point out the criminal aspects of this tragedy that have never been taken into consideration, but rather to raise awareness or rather to question if there was a plan to defame Karamanlis and lower his popularity with the people prior to the 2007 elections, because the PASOK leader at the time George Papandreou could not jump into the lead in the polls.
Greece, which was enjoying the most tranquil period in its political history since 1996, was suddenly dragged into early elections under the shadow of a grave tragedy. Thank God citizens all over the country realized the extraordinary nature of the fires, and did not blame the government, but rather insinctivly realized that they did not occur by chance and Karamanlis won his second term in government, much to the surprise of “the system” which tried so hard to topple him.
The fact that the Greek Watergate scandal was identified now, or rather five years after it was uncovered (check relevant story here), the sudden suicide of the only witness on the case, shows us that “shady forces” wanted to close the case back then and not allow it to be further investigated. Indeed the case involves espionage, and in any normal situation would be considered a felony and in no way would it be looked at as a misdemeanour. I do not know what Prosecutor Dimitris Dasoula will do (or rather has the guts to do) about this case, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that you can’t do the crime if you don’t do the time!
After a Greek veto in NATO summit in Bucharest in May 2008, the popularity of then Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis reached its all time high and the gap between the then main opposition PASOK party of George Papandreou had grown. At the time, Greece’s finances were in a rut, because of many mishaps or wrong decisions on the part of the then Minister of Finance George Alogoskoufis, nonetheless, Karamanlis was still popular and the people of Greece, no matter their political background supported him, and especially applauded his move in Bucharest. Certainly Karamanlis knew what he had to do: “The case in Bucharest is a difficult story” he had said to close associates at the time. “I will do my duty but I can not say with certainty that I will continue to be in government for long” he added a few hours before leaving for Bucharest.
WIKILEAKS CABLE ON SKOPJE ISSUE
WL Central continues its coverage of Greek diplomatic cables, published by SKAI media group and Kathimerini newspaper. Today’s cables are focusing on the previous government of Greece, the right-wing New Democracy, with 2 cables on the internal workings of the government and 1 cable referring to the President of FYROM and the naming issue.
American ambassador: PM Karamanlis is the “Buddha” of Greek political scene.
In a cable dated October 3rd, 2008, the US embassy in Athens appears to be worrying about the various political scandals plaguing the Karamanlis administration, as well as his marginal parliamentary majority.
Daniel Speckhard, the US ambassador, notes that despite the scandals, and the internal party troubles, Karamanlis pushed through the parliament the controversial privatization of the national air carrier Olympic Airlines as well as a bill protecting homeowners against foreclosures due to the economic crisis.
The ambassador then characterizes Karamanlis as the “Buddha” of Greek politics “because he keeps his own counsel and rarely indicates what he is planning”. “The Buddha” he continues “is likely always contemplating ways to strengthen his position”.
During the Karamanlis administration, the US embassy in Athens, sends a cable, dated August 20, 2007, noting that former Foreign Minister Moliviatis was not only closer to the PM than the then Foreign Minister Bakoyianni, but that he is actually the “unofficial foreign policy adviser”.
The author then summarizes the conversation he had with Moliviatis, concerning the naming issue of FYROM, which is essentially a dispute between Macedonia and Greece. The former states that it is their right to use any name they want for their country, meaning Macedonia, while the latter objects to this name because the region of Greece bordering FYROM is already called Macedonia for thousands of years. The Greek part of Macedonia was also the homeland of Alexander the Great.
The author then asked Mr. Moliviatis, the meaning of his public statement that Greece had gone eighty percent of the way to a solution and Skopje must cover the last 20 percent. The former Foreign Minister answered by stating that Greece had accepted the term “Macedonia” to be a part of the name of FYROM. He also noted that this was a red line for previous Greek administrations “and as FM, he had needed to push Karamanlis hard to accept the possibility that FYROM´s official name would include the term”. Skopje needed to go the last 20 percent by agreeing to a variation. This was undone in December of 2005 when Nimetz, the UN mediator, proposed a dual-name solution, which Greece was obliged to reject.
According to the cable, Mr. Moliviatis revealed that PM Karamanlis was seriously considering vetoing Skopje’s NATO membership without resolution of the name issue first. “But” Mr. Moliviatis added “that might be exactly what was needed to get Skopje to take a more realistic approach to the issue”. He also mentioned that Greece didn’t have any specific strategy for the naming issue, and they wanted to know if Washington was willing to resolve this issue at that time.
He characteristically told to the author that Greeks were “used to being (expletive deleted) by a big state like Turkey, but getting the same treatment from a small upstart like Skopje is unacceptable”.
The publicizing of this cable has caused a turmoil the last days between Bakoyianni, now expelled from the New Democracy party, and Moliviatis, with the first accusing Moliviatis of “being preparing someone to confront her” for the presidency of her former party after Karamanlis’ step down from the party’s presidency when he lost the elections of 2009. Additionally, according to Mrs. Bakoyianni, Mr. Moliviatis “felt the need to inform about these actions the American embassy”.
Macedonia’s president: I’m sure Greece will veto our NATO entry.
In a revealing cable of the US embassy in FYROM, at February 7, 2008, two months before the Greek veto in Skopje’s NATO membership, FYROM’s president Nikola Gruevski states as a sure fact that Greece will veto his country.
Gruevski states that “if I were Karamanlis and did not veto in Bucharest, I would hand in my resignation”. He also acknowledges that the naming issue is a basic obstacle in the European and NATO aspirations of Macedonia. He notes, though, that any compromise in the naming issue should be endorsed by the citizens in a referendum.
He reveals that his Foreign Minister had recently proposed to him the names “Independent Republic of Macedonia” and “Sovereign Republic of Macedonia”.
Right after Bucharest a peculiar power game with Theodore Roussopoulos who was the acting government spokesman began. He was suddenly shown as one of the leading offenders in the so called Vatopedi scandal. Even before Parliament began its investigation into the affair, Roussopoulos resigned from his posts saying that he wanted to be free to fight the so called allegations of corruption.
Karamanlis’ ND government was suddenly damaged by claims that it had approved the transfer of valuable state property to the monastery in exchange for real estate of a much lower value and his popularity began to tumble.
In all reality, the arrogant behaviour of Roussopoulos is what really ticked off ND supporters, and not Karamanlis’ decision to support his team.
All the ministers that were signalled out in the case avoided prosecution and all charges were obviously dropped. Evaggelos Basiakos, Alexandros Kontos and Petros Doukas, were cleared of all accusations. Two more ministers, Roussopoulos and Giorgos Voulgarakis, were also cleared.
And one has to wonder… WTF?
Some say that there are many indications that political intrigue and other dark purposes are behind the so called ‘Vatopedi scandal’, and one of the reasons it took so long to investigate it. The slander of Orthodoxism and Mount Athos as well as the obvious downfall of the Karamanlis government did not happen by chance. It was obviously part of a larger plan.
I mean… where are the bribes?
Where are the offshore companies that PASOK MPs so gallantly accused all those accused with Vatopedi of having?
Where are the kickbacks that ND deputies apparently received?
I’ll tell you where they are…
The assassination plot against Karamanlis had as its objective to postpone and/or cancel his government’s decision to move ahead with an energy policy that would make Greece a fair player on the global energy market, while it was part of a larger plan that was set to totally destablize the country’s economic and political system.
- First Phase: Political instability. During Karamanlis’ run as Prime Minister, the political climate in Greece began to crumble and the mainstream media (which some hint were bought out to do so) suddenly began broadcasting stories suggesting that the government of Karamanlis was accepting kickbacks or was involved in money laundering in the Monastery of Vatopedi case. The news began to tarnish the image of Karamanlis’ Cabinet, while the aim was to strike at the core… Karamanlis himself so that he could lose his credibility with the people. It worked. After months and months of propaganda, the people turned their back on Karamanlis, his political career was totally tarnished, and he lost the elections to George Papandreou in October 2009.
- Second Phase: Economic unrest: This was achieved with various methods that even included the various kidnappings of several prominent businessmen, throwing the business community in a panic.
- Third Phase: Social instability. This was implemented with various forms of social unrest, including terrorist acts.
- Fourth Phase: Weaken Foreign Policy. Karamanlis’ foreign policy began to suddenly show signs of weakening and Greece began to suddenly lose ground with its allies.
Just three days after the US Secretary of State left Greece, a new law on the establishment of the institution that would conduct tenders for oil surveys was said to be entering the final stage, while the announcement of an international invitation for seism and geological surveys is expected to follow. According to a separate report by capital.gr a parliamentary committee scheduled a second reading of the bill tomorrow, before it would be tabled to the assembly. Deputy Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis has apparently “facilitated” the new institution, as the first two projects have been already launched: the modernization of legislation and the conduction of seismic and geological surveys. Sources told Capital.gr that the international invitation would be published in the coming two weeks and its text is under preparation based on the results of the consultation.
ICG believes that the trade-offs is the only solution to resolve once and for all the problems that exists in the Aegean and suggests among other things the demilitarization of Aegean islands in exchange for the dissolution of the Turkish 4th Army, the public recognition of vital Turkish interest in the Aegean, the ratification of UNLOS in the Aegean and the selective expansion of Greek territorial waters. In substance, this anti-Greek NGOs serving particular interests (see the treacherous role of NGOs in Greece and Cyprus), fully adopts the Turkish claims in the Aegean attempting to give impetus to the secret diplomacy of Prime Minister George Papandreou.
The perception of the media as the fourth power is not at all new. Like their relationship with the government. According to the secret telegrams that leaked into Wikileaks, the Greek media are synonymous with corruption, their journalists are poorly paid, and the published information – soaked from bias and anti-Americanism. “Incestuous like the relationships of the Greek gods” – that is how the former U.S. Ambassador to Athens Charles Rhys defined the relationship between the owners of the Greek media, the politicians and the government. The text is part of a telegram on corruption in the Greek media and its implications for the US policy he sent to the US State Department in July 2006.
According to the US diplomat, “the Greek media are controlled by a small group of people who have created or inherited their property through companies in the field of maritime transport, communications, banking, oil and others. They are connected through arranged matches or marriages for politicians and government functionaries and/or other major businessmen.” Charles Rhys believes that the mass media in Greece are managed by tycoons who can afford to fund their loss-making enterprises in the media as result of the successful operation of their other companies” to “exercise political and economic influence.”
According to the former Ambassador, the Greek media in turn often present an almost identical picture with the only difference in party lines. “Similarly, an identical anti-Americanism is added to almost every subject, which, however, has insignificant influence on the bilateral relations.”
“The Greek term “corrupt” means exactly the network of interconnected interests between the media, the businesses and the government,” adds Rhys Charles. “The connections (between them) are more complex and “incestuous” from the relations between gods, demigods and humans in Greek mythology.”
As for the journalists, he writes that “they are poorly paid and often work in several media to be able to pay their bills. It is not uncommon for a journalist to work in the ministerial press service, although the reports of the specific department are in his portfolio. They are fully aware of the many chiefs they have (…) It is also common for journalists to receive gifts, even money from people who are related to the reports they make. It is known that the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games Athens 2004 was paying journalists to write positive reports.”
The US diplomat presents the history of the Greek media from Homer to the Age of the Internet. “Homer has made a “report” about the Trojan War a few years after its implementation and used the events to create a poetic epic of battles between the gods in which people were pawns. Today’s Greek media use the same “mixture” of events and fantasy with an equal dose of “Deus ex machina”, i.e. external forces that control the events.”
Charles Rhys notes in his telegram that some media owners in Greece have “oil connections” with the Middle East, and others have ideological or financial reasons to resist globalization. “Today, as in the 800 year BC the Greek public opinion is flooded with myths, scapegoats and conspiracy theories in which the USA is presented as a “Planetary Leader” responsible for the internal problems of Greece and the decline of its charm on the international arena.”
According to the former Ambassador, “if the Greek media owners choose to radically change their position (…) we could report a progressive reduction of sentimental anti-Americanism, which is typical of the media and a turn to more objective and based on event reports. The good news is that our relationship with the Greek government remains strong, despite the efforts of the media. In this way, the Greek public opinion feels comfortable to express its anger against the US foreign policy, while admiring many of the traits of the American culture. “
Not many Greeks were surprised by the contents of the telegram. Suspected relations between the media tycoons with the power, the uncontrolled granting of permits for television and radio stations and the publication of “revelations” about one or another politician in order to cancel their obligations or to exercise political pressure are commonly used.
At the same time, one of the central Greek televisions is only a step away from the closure. TV ALTERA stopped live broadcasts on Monday and it is not clear whether this is due to the strike of the 160 technicians or to management’s decision. Half of the bank accounts of the media were blocked a few months ago because of unpaid debts to the state and the employees have not received salaries for more than 3 months. According to some sources, a large telecommunication company is interested in buying the media. That will happen only if the audit results of the English financial house Argo are positive and it gives “green light” to the investment.
With the threatened closure and a large number of publications which have so far been passed by the state press releases. In conditions of severe economic crisis, however, it was impossible to continue. Instead of newspaper publications already placed in the web pages at no cost to the state budget. The disruption of this source of funds suffered most provincial newspapers.
Experts say they could benefit from the new territorial division of Greece to unite with each other at the district level which will provide greater audience. They advise the publications to seek reasons for its social role similar to those that were recognized in a number of European countries like France, Holland and Sweden where there are systems for state funding of the press in the province. According to some publications publishers of these journals have already taken steps in this direction, but above all must endeavor to break the “vicious” links to specific interests