Nikolaos Stelgias

Nikolaos Stelgias

Mitsotakis accused of "Erdoganism"

Greece slides towards authoritarianism according to the international press

The Greek Prime Minister faces a difficult situation just before the parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' reputation is affected by the wiretapping issue both at home and abroad. The Greek economy is experiencing fresh issues because of the energy crisis' escalation. As if all of this weren't enough, polls show that the New Democracy Party (ND), which is now in power, is now far from achieving its aim of a one-party government after the new elections.

The international press sharpens its criticism of the Greek government as the issues the Greek Prime Minister is facing get worse every day. In recent days, Mitsotakis' government activity has come under scathing criticism from both the American and German press.

The opposition in Athens relies on criticism from the international press to exert further pressure on the nation's conservative leadership.

"Τhe Rot at the Heart of Greece" according to the New York Times

"In Greece the corruption and conflicts of interests (which) Mr. Mitsotakis pledged to root out not only still exist but also, in many respects, appear to have concentrated and deepened. Far from having been overhauled, the Greek state has received only a cosmetic makeover, a managerial window dressing." pointed out a few weeks ago the American newspaper "The New York Times" in an opinion article, which targeted the Mitsotakis government.

The American article, which was entitled "The Rot at the Heart of Greece Is Now Clear for Everyone to See," pointed out: "In recent weeks, a wiretapping scandal has sensationally unveiled the underlying rot. Labelled Greece’s Watergate, it has exposed the rank surveillance beneath the glittering surface. The “Greece 2.0” Mr. Mitsotakis promised is just more of the same. For decades now, phone tapping has been a sinister feature of the Greek state. But under Mr. Mitsotakis, national surveillance has expanded into a unaccountable bureaucracy."

The article also highlights: "The problem is not that corruption under Mr. Mitsotakis is necessarily more endemic than under previous Greek governments — or in many other European countries. It is, rather, the unsustainable contradiction between the country Mr. Mitsotakis insists on pitching abroad — an unimpeachably democratic state whose respect for the rule of law and liberal bona fides ought to be rewarded with corporate investments and tourism dollars — and the one he actually presides over."

"Greece's path to autocracy" according to "Spiegel"

A few weeks after the critical article of the American newspaper, the German magazine "Spiegel" rebuked the Mitsotakis government. The German magazine extensively dissected Mitsotakis' administration, drew attention to its anti-democratic tactics, and urged Brussels to step in.

The magazine wrote Greece is taking the same route as Poland and Hungary in an article headed "Greece's path to dictatorship." The magazine charged Mitsotakis with becoming increasingly autocratic while portraying himself as a reformist who is improving Greece: "Greece is one of the most well-known tourist destinations in Europe; maybe as a result, several European capitals are prepared to ignore the negative aspects of their EU partner. Brussels, Berlin, and Paris have not been very disturbed because Greece, under the right-wing conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is continually moving toward autocracy."

The article highlights: "The many violations that Greek authorities committed when Mitsotakis was in office are what he refuses to discuss. The Greek government has broken both international and European law, particularly in immigration policy. Over the past two years, Greek security forces have sent thousands of refugees back to Turkey. Greek officials don't seem to face consequences for the crimes they committed at the border. Instead, what frequently occurs is that those who record them are put under oppressive pressure. Greece claims to be the birthplace of democracy. In fact, Mitsotakis is using more and more authoritarian methods. He and his allies have made lying the centerpiece of their political platform. For instance, the European anti-corruption agency has verified the unlawful repatriations that Spiegel and other media have extensively recorded. Even though the Greek government brazenly asserts that it doesn't engage in push-backs."

According to "Spiegel," the Mitsotakis government is turning Greece into a police state and "the foundations of democratic dialogue are crumbling."

Mitsotakis is charged with "Erdoganism" by the opposition

When news of the Mitsotakis administration appeared in foreign media, the opposition in Athens reacted swiftly. In honor of the brand-new American journal, Syriza vehemently criticized the ruling party.

"Greece is receiving more and more criticism from other countries as time goes on since the government won't call the Transparency Commission to discuss the wiretapping matter. Today it is the New York Times' turn to discuss the "black chapters of Greek history." Greece is quickly emerging as a leading example of authoritarian rule with murky procedures and the infringement of democratic freedoms" states Greece's largest opposition party.

In the same communique the following unprecedented accusations against the Greek government stand out: "The government continues to use the (excuse of) "foreign enemy" in reaction to the latest wiretapping incident. Adonis Georgiades, a friend of the prime minister, makes a suggestion about a Turkish finger. Georgiades maintains the perilous course set by the prime minister by portraying the fight to protect democracy in our nation as an effort to advance foreign objectives. We expect the minister in charge of foreign policy to at the very least make a statement to clarify whether third countries are involved in this case. He ought to identify them if they are complicit. If they are not involved, the government must cease its desperate leaks of information and reckless statements made by government personnel that have a negative impact on the country's international relations."

In the same vein, the leader of the Mera25 party and former Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, also condemned the government for defaming Greece. "Your premiership burst like a bubble simply because it was a bubble. Mr. Mitsotakis, the majority will feel morally and politically relieved when you are removed as prime minister because they can no longer stand you personally, your anonymous company, your narcissism, your sense of right to family rule, and your naivete. Mr. Prime Minister, "Erdoganism" and "Orbanism" were founded in Greece by you directly.

On the floor of the Greek parliament, Varoufakis accused the Greek Prime Minister of adopting the authoritarian style of government practiced in Turkey and Hungary. He also added the following: "You, Mr. Mitsotakis, have destroyed what is left of bourgeois parliamentary democracy and the Constitution. And you'll be charged for it. Your miserable premiership is already paying the price for it with a long, agonizing end. For us, the issue isn't simply your downfall but also a complete split with the system that raised you."

  *Dr Nikolaos Stelgias was born in Istanbul. He is an independent researcher, writer, historian and journalist. His doctorate is in the field of the modern Turkish political system (Panteion University, 2011). His latest book “The Ailing Turkish Democracy” was published by the Cambridge Scholars Publication in 2020. Dr. Stelgias was a correspondent of the newspaper "Kathimerini (Cyprus edition)" for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community from 2009 to 2021. Currently, Dr. Stelgias works at the Cyprus News Agency. Dr. Stelgias publishes in Turkish news articles and analyses on Cyprus and Greece on the news website 'Duvar". 

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