Minister of State Vernardakis: The struggle for a fairer society is a high-endurance marathon

Only a handful of issues were still outstanding for completing the second review and these were not sufficient to put it on hold, Minister of State Christoforos Vernardakis said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) released on Sunday.

In a broad-ranging interview on all current affairs, Vernardakis assessed the achievements of the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government after two years in power, noting that several things had been done but that it could now do “more and better”. “The struggle for a better and fairer society is a high-endurance marathon,” he added, advising those anxious for snap elections to “be patient”.

Replying to questions about the second review and the “Guarantees Mechanism” or ‘automatic spending cutter’ demanded by the institutions, Vernardakis said the government’s position was that this mechanism would not have to be activated.

“The only thing that could be discussed, on our side, is a general description of the areas where it might potentially be activated,” he said. He also noted that legislation providing for such a mechanism was first passed in 2014 but that the current leader of main opposition New Democracy was “pretending not to know this.”

He predicted that the final report of a Parliamentary investigating committee into the loans to political parties and the media, due to be unveiled on Monday, would be a “great lesson in the workings of the corrupt political systembuilt in the country after the 1990s” and a “narrative on the crisis in democracy.”

Vernardakis sharply rebuffed the criticism aimed at the government over its handling of the bankrupt Lambrakis (DOL) media group, noting that neither SYRIZA “will become DOL nor DOL become SYRIZA.”

He also promised a “merciless” response to fascism, when asked about incidents at a school in Perama, and noted that a solution to the Cyprus issue “does not appear to be very close,” in spite of the progress that has been made.