Economou accuses SYRIZA, Apostolakis of ‘torpedoing’ initiative for consensus

Government spokesperson Yiannis Economou on Tuesday confirmed that Evangelos Apostolakis had declined to accept the position of civil protection minister, at the head of a newly founded civil protection ministry, while attacking main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance for opposing the appointment.

In light of this refusal, Economou announced, the civil protection portfolio will remain with the Ministry of Citizen Protection and, until a new head of the deputy ministry is appointed, the minister will be in charge of the relevant issues, while the current General Secretary for Civil Protection will be in charge of operational coordination.

“The prime minister, acting on his desire for consensus in the crucial sector of civil protection, decided on the foundation of a ministry with this exact remit. He chose for the position of its leadership an individual with operational experience and cross-party acceptance: the former defence minister under the previous government and former head of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff Evangelos Apostolakis,” Economou said, outlining the events that had preceded Apostolakis’ refusal of the appointment that was announced on Tuesday morning.

According to the spokesperson, the “real chain of events” was as follows:

“In the last few days there were exploratory discussions, during which the nature of the new portfolio was agreed. Just yesterday, during a telephone conversation with the prime minister, Mr. Apostolakis firmly accepted his appointment. For this reason, on Tuesday morning, the General Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office Grigoris Dimitriadis contacted the head of [SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance President Alexis Tsipras] office about this issue. There was also a similar briefing of [opposition KINAL party leader Fofi Gennimata].

“After the announcement of the government, the presidency of the Hellenic Republic contacted Mr. Apostolakis over practical issues of the swearing-in ceremony and received the reply that the new minister will attend accompanied, possibly, by his wife.

“There followed, however, a despicable announcement by SYRIZA that called Apostolakis a ‘turncoat’ and spoke of him being ‘bought off’. Immediately after this attack, Apostolakis contacted the prime minister and told him that he did not wish to accept the position of minister.”

The government spokesperson then attacked the main opposition for “targeting in such a vulgar way a person that could have symbolised national understanding” and thus sabotaging an initiative for consensus in an area where there was no room for party politics since the primary goal was the protection of human life.

“Mr. Apostolakis, also, proved himself lesser than the circumstances demand. He quailed before SYRIZA’s threats, submitted to his party and backed away from the call to serve the country. It is a shame for his future legacy,” Economou said.