Addressing Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate on corruption and intertwined interests on Monday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras focused on the reactions against a recent tender to award nationwide television licences and spoke of a “media coup against the elected government” with the backing of main opposition New Democracy.
“In full cooperation with the publishers and channel owners, old and new, you have engaged in a vicious war against the elected government of the country,” he said, noting that there was an “ongoing attempt to stage a post-modern media coup using propaganda as a weapon.”
The first act of this attempt played out during the period of economic suffocation, the second was the disaster-mongering during the first and more difficult programme review and the third was “a frenzied effort of a bankrupt system to envelop the country in darkness,” Tsipras added.
Addressing ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the prime minister accused him of “running away” during the last Parliamentary debate when this touched on issues of corruption. This time, Tsipras said, he would be held to account and forced to provide explanations.
“You immediately forged an alliance with the old and corrupt system of intertwined interests in this country, with those that were responsible for the country’s bankruptcy,” he said. According to Tsipras, the main opposition was
“fighting a rear guard action” and running after the media establishment because this was “its last hope”. ND should get used to being the main opposition, since the electorate knew them well and it would be a long time before it returned to government, Tsipras added.
“Your goal is to convince [voters] that everyone is dirty in this country…to undermine the left’s moral advantage” the prime minister said. Unable to convince voters with its “so-called alternative programme,” which consisted of nothing but cuts, lay-offs and a shrinking of the public interest, ND’s only option was to “stand behind the channel owners that are paying into the public coffers for the first time,” he said.
“The main message from the tender is that the law will be upheld,” he said, noting that the government had followed the rules for all participants in the tender, even the supposedly “government-friendly” candidate. “As soon as one term was not met, he was eliminated from the tender procedure,” Tsipras pointed out.
The prime minister also emphasised the outstanding debts still owed by ND and the PASOK party, noting that SYRIZA did not have any outstanding commitments to anyone. “No matter how hard you search, you will not find any SYRIZA kickbacks, or procurements scandals, or unbacked loans,” he said.
Tsipras also pledged to “end the tax evasion party” and call those that had hidden money to account, making them pay. He announced that the government had received a new list of 475 Greeks that deposited money in 2010 from North Rhine Westphalia, noting that the offence of tax evasion was not statute barred for that year.
“This list has been handed over to the public prosecutor and prosecuting authorities will be given every assistance,” he said.
“The government wants to align with the healthy forces of society. We want to put this country in order. The citizens know that we are the last chance to cleanse the country from the filth of corruption,” Tsipras added.