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Saturday, June 11, 2005 

Seek and Ye Shall Find

Last week, Athens was overflowing with garbage. Ano Liossia mayor, Nikos Papadimas and his constituents protested the dumping of sludge at his municipality's landfill site and blocked access to any more garbage being dumped there. He gave PM Karamanlis quite the headache as the garbage in Athens kept piling up and Papadimas refused to back down. Finally, the public prosecutor intervened and some sort of agreement was reached to allow the removal of the garbage from Athens streets. Papadimas again threatened to block the landfill site unless a permanent solution was reached. He was proving to be the thorn in Karamanlis' substantial backside for the rest of the summer and Karamanlis needed to resolve it quickly.

Now, for all of you who might think diplomacy, political prowess or even an environmentally acceptable and comprehensive backup plan would be the solution, you would be wrong. Strongarm tactics work much better it seems. So it comes as no surprise that when the Public Administration Inspector's Agency was unleashed to tackle anti-corruption, their biggest fish to fry turned out to be none other than the mayor of Ano Liossia himself. What perfect timing. He is now being investigated for missing funds totalling 53.7 million euros from his municiaplity's coffers ... 9 million of which he personally withdrew himself.

That ought to shut him up for awhile so Karamanlis can get on with his summer vacation without any more garbage headaches.

Well I'm sure you like me burst out laughing when I first heard this story on the news. It's just the way things work in Greece. You annoy the government, they turn into the mafia and put a hit on you. Look at the judges, they ask for more money, within a matter of a week, they were in the center of a trial fixing scandal. While I do think there should be investigations into missing money, I think the government needs to investigate for the 'right reasons'. Personally I believe the governments always been aware of money going astray just it's never served their purpose or been worth their while to expose it. Thanks to the current problems over the trash, it's their way of diverting attention onto the activities of the mayor. Who else thinks that if the landfill remains closed, the mayor will be removed from office by the government for taking nine million euros?

It is so ridiculous. Every time Karamanlis faces a problem, he unleashes the public prosecutor on people instead of solving it. So what if Papadimas gets ousted from office? The fact of the matter remains that Athens will still have a huge environmental problem with its waste management.

Of course I know little about this, and cannot really say I am interested enough in domestic Greek politics to really study it, but I do think it is possible that the timing of both events are coincidental, though suspicious if an abnormal pattern of this "tactic" exists that cannot be rationalized under context. If there is a lot of corruption, or the suspicion of it, than I would expect this to happen rather frequently. And that goes to Ellas' mention of what is an important question, how long has this money been known to be missing? And was there any legitimate reason not to have mentioned that funds are missing and the Mayor is related to part of the missing funds earlier?

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