Four MPs of the ruling PASOK party on Thursday tabled a question in parliament addressed to finance minister Evangelos Venizelos and foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis asking what ways the government intends to propose to its EU partners to deal with the rating agencies in order to safeguard the national and European economy.
The MPs, in their question, said that the recent developments indicated the EU's inability, primarily at political level, to manage and deal with the attitude of the rating agencies and their influence on the markets.
They further said that this has resulted in phenomena of the policy decisions of sovereign countries and international organisations being dependent on the assessments and calculations of the rating agencies, which are being investigated for speculation and non-transparent rules of operation.
The MPs further said that these specific agencies are profitable companies that serve, in every way, the interests of their clients and in no instance the public interest.
The asked the ministers if they intend to put the acceleration of the establishment of a European rating agency, of a public character, on the agenda, and whether they will ask the EU to look into legal ways of prohibiting the rating agencies of including the economies of the EU member states in their evaluations (even with a simple expression of opinion), given that this instance does not fall under the protected freedom of speech or economic liberty that is recognised by the modern Constitutional documents, given the superiority of the public interest.
They further ask the ministers whether they will issue a warning that any new downgrading during the duration of the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy programme (which could prospectively have devastating consequences in view of Greece's future return to the markets) would comprise cause of a legal war between the Greek state and the rating agency that goes ahead with such a move.
Second stab at Siemens investigation criticised as 'parody'
Main opposition New Democracy and other opposition parties on Thursday reacted critically to news that ruling PASOK MPs were collecting signatures in order to re-open the Siemens case for four former ministers and send them before a Parliamentary preliminary investigation committee.
ND press spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis attacked the government and said it was attempting to "shunt responsibility for the scandal where this did not exist and achieve an immoral political trade-off".
Mihelakis insisted that PASOK was fully responsible for the Siemens scandal that the ruling party was deliberately bringing the issue to the forefront at a time when people were being tested by its harsh and unfair economic measures and "a dead-end policy that is disintegrating the economy and society".
He called on the government to immediately put into effect a proposal by ND leader Antonis Samaras for an inspection of the 'means of wealth' statements of all ministers and deputy ministers since 1974.
Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MP Dimitris Papadimoulis, a member of the original committee that had investigated the Siemens case, also dismissed the proposal as a "parody of cleansing for the sake of appearances".
He claimed that PASOK had obviously come to an agreement with ND behind the scenes and had essentially scrapped the fact-finding committee's original report on the scandal. Papadimoulis noted that of the 12 former minister that PASOK had then wanted investigated, it was now down to just four whose political careers were already essentially dead.
Papadimoulis also pointed out that Greece had yet to see one euro of the money lost as a result of Siemens kickbacks, five years after the scandal was first uncovered by German and U.S. authorities, whereas 17 other countries had so far received 1.7 billion euro. By contrast, Greek authorities had not yet even calculated the amount of the damage suffered, he pointed out.
Sources in the PASOK Parliamentary group revealed on Wednesday that MPs are collecting signatures to request a Parliamentary preliminary investigation committee into the actions of former ND finance minister George Alogoskoufis, and current Democratic Alliance party MP Christos Markoyiannakis, and former PASOK ministers Anastasios Mantelis and Akis Tsohatzopoulos.
In statements responding to the reports on Thursday, Markoyiannakis and Alogoskoufis both denied any sort of involvement in the scandal.
"I am ashamed and sorry that I devoted 30 whole years to what is called politics," Markoyiannakis said in response to the news to a local radio station, claiming that the whole affair would essentially be an elaborate cover-up of those really responsible.
According to Alogoskoufis, the initiative was an attempt to disorient public opinion and political persecution against him and he stressed that the finance ministry at no time had oversight of contracts signed by Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, which was a bourse-listed company.