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S&Ds urge EU Commission to defend the rule of law in Greece

Date

15 Feb 2023

Sections

Global Europe

Today, at the S&D’s request, the Parliament finally debated the erosion of the rule of law in Greece, which had previously been blocked by other political groups. The debate centred around the media freedom and wiretapping scandal, which involves journalists and the leader of PASOK, our S&D MEP, Nikos Androulakis.

As confirmed by numerous independent civil society organisations, Greece has witnessed an alarming regression of the rule of law in recent years.  Spying of the opposition, abusive lawsuits against journalists, criminalisation of NGOs. These are alarming signs of Greece’s democratic decline, which poses a direct threat to the fundamental values of the EU.

In March, the S&D’s Bureau will travel to Athens to take a closer look at the situation, and to urge the conservative government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to stop brushing the wiretapping scandal under the carpet.

The S&Ds also call on the European Commission to step up and defend the rule of law in Greece, and not allow this undemocratic virus from spreading across Europe.

S&D MEP Nikos Androulakis, leader of PASOK, said: 

“I have made it clear from the very beginning that my wiretapping is not something personal. It is about democracy. And democracy cannot exist for citizens without a strong and reliable rule of law, which guarantees the protection of their rights against arbitrary state action.

“After the revelation six months ago, the government publicly said that everything should come to light. But all we saw was total darkness and an attempt to put the blame on the victims.

“Institutions in Greece have suffered serious blows in recent years. The Greek people deserve more than a continued descent. We have a duty to stand in the way of the forces that have led our country to economic divergence, sending the Greek people on a painful ten-year adventure and now, with their practices are leading us to an institutional deviation.”

Hannes Heide, MEP and S&D spokesperson in the PEGA committee, said:

“From the beginning, I have said that the way the Greek government and Prime Minister Mitsotakis deal with ‘Predatorgate’ will show whether Greece is heading towards autocracy. And how does it handle it?  The committee of inquiry in the Greek parliament ended after just one month without any significant findings. The Greek Attorney General abstracted the work of the Independent Authority for the secrecy of telecommunications who discovered the wiretapping. And our European Parliament hearing on the Greek case turned into a farce; we got no answers from the Greek officials. The Greek authorities are not willing to cooperate with our PEGA committee.

“Besides, I am extremely concerned about media freedom. The murder of journalist Giorgos Karaivaz, in 2021, has not been solved to this day; journalists are subject to intimidation and SLAPP lawsuits. ‘Reporters without Borders’ place Greece lowest in Europe on its Freedom Index.

“I expect the Commission to take action to defend the rule of law and media freedom in Greece and Europe. The Commission's long wait with regard to Hungary and Poland has ultimately led to the fact that gross violations of the rule of law have now become established in these two countries. We must not repeat this error in the case of Greece!”

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