Details on the content of the government’s legislative initiative on surveillance that will come to Parliament in the coming days were given by the Minister of State, Akis Schertsos, in an interview with Real FM, giving, at the same time, an answer to what the president of SYRIZA – Progressive Alliance, Alexis Tsipras, said last night in his interview with Star.
Responding to the question whether the government can assure that there is no government minister on the list of “33” who was monitored with a legal link by the EYP, as requested by the official opposition leader, the Minister of State noted: “I want to reverse the question and let Mr. Tsipras tell us where does he have information about these legal, according to him, follow up These are facts that are not available to any political person. Mr. Tsipras must answer us because he allegedly has knowledge of these data. These are illegal elements, which if they are in the hands of Mr. Tsipras, he must prove how he found them and why they are in his hands.”
And he continued by saying that “Mr. Tsipras told us some additional things yesterday that we should highlight. He admitted that there was similar illegal software in the country and in operation, in use, in 2018, during his own administration, during his own tenure. What did he do about it? […] he didn’t rule it out, so it might have been there. He needs to tell us what he did as a government to deal with illegal software and illegal surveillance at that time. Accordingly, he must tell us why, just a few days before the July 2019 elections, he changed the Criminal Code and made a much milder criminal treatment for both illegal surveillance and the marketing and use of this illegal software. Here things have to be put in place and from the accuser, the opposition, can also become the accused”.
Asked, immediately afterwards, whether the new institutional framework will provide for the possibility of the person being monitored to be informed after the consent of the judiciary, Mr. Skertos replied that “it is under discussion, next week these provisions will come to public consultation. We have chosen to we act with absolute responsibility and institutionality in this major issue that has been raised since August.”
Entering, in fact, into the essence of the government initiative, he announced that “the bill will include four sections of interventions, i.e. regulations that will strengthen and shield the legal removal of privacy, legal surveillance, with more special safeguards for political figures so that we do not have repetition of the phenomena we had with the case of Mr. Androulakis. We will have provisions for the further destruction of the material, provisions for the restructuring of the EYP, provisions for the express provision for the prohibition of the use and marketing of all these software that are on the market. There will be a strengthening of cyber security with more special committees, infrastructures and mechanisms, which will shield our country, also interventions for the protection of personal data in the context of the application of Community legislation”.
It will, in conclusion, be a “complete, i.e. institutional framework interventions that will put on the right footing an issue that concerns not only Greece but the whole of Europe and the whole world. There are no secure communications. Unfortunately, technology is moving much faster than states can keep up with legislation and regulatory mechanisms. We, through this important failure that hurt us all in terms of democratic feelings and the trust we want to have in the institutions, are taking initiatives first in Europe, which will create a new, significantly more armored security framework for communications”, he also underlined and added:
“We have already discussed the issues at length in the Parliament and we can go again, as long as the competent committee decides this. There is a judicial investigation, we must let justice do its job, as it should, and only justice can shed light on this story.”
According to the Minister of State, “the evidence discussed in recent days does not add any new data to this case. On the contrary, they do cause a political polarization, an image that is terribly disturbing and very repulsive to the citizen of this country. With a political system that, under the responsibility of the opposition, is currently being thrown into the mud with rumours, stories and fairy tales about alleged excerpts, video recordings, recordings which are circulating here and there, in the hands of people who are incompetent. It is a fetid affair that must be put to an end, a full stop. Whoever has facts and evidence should go to justice to clean up this whole case.”
Beyond that, “the country, society has demands from the political system to deal with real problems, like what is being done in the economy, in the fight against precision, energy precision, jobs, attracting investment, with what we presented today, by the prime minister and the responsible minister, Mr. Hatzidakis. The elimination of the pending stock of pensions that has been bothering us for the last 5-6 years. Pensions are paid in two months,” he pointed out.
Staying in the field of economy, he said, “inflation has started to de-escalate in our country and this is due to government policies […] is about two units below the Eurozone, there is a policy that is paying off. Of course incomes are under pressure, we understand that and are doing the best we can. The “household basket” starts and brings results”, such as intensifying competition between supermarkets, empowering consumers, lowering prices.
Closing with the issue of mining combined with the Turkish reaction, the Minister of State underlined: “Whatever we do, we do within the framework of International Law and by exercising the sovereign rights of our country […] Greece, in this difficult moment of energy uncertainty, must protect its energy autonomy”. Which, as he explained, is done in two ways: The acceleration of investments for RES and, if there are valid researches and indications, with the exploitation of natural gas deposits, which “can feed domestic needs. And together with RES, Greece should become a country – an exporter to other countries”.
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