The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece issued a statement in response to what it views as unfounded and uncorroborated claims made by journalist Kerin Hope concerning fears for the rule of law in the country stemming from a court ruling favouring Foreign minister Nikos Kotzias in the Financial Times.
The ministry statement is as follows:
“An unsubstantiated article in today’s Financial Times by the journalist Mrs Kerin Hope, propagates unprecedented lies aimed at discrediting the Greek government.
Among the other lies stated in the article:
- While failing to provide any corroboration of the claims it makes, the article presents a false story aimed at defaming the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Kotzias.
- The newspaper lies in saying that it received no comment on the article that was to be published. The truth is that on 30 July, following pertinent correspondence, Mrs. Hope received a relevant letter from Mr. Kotzias’ attorney, Ioannis Matzouranis. The false statement that Mr Kotzias ‘declined to comment’ breaks every rule of journalistic ethics.
- Reference is made to the independence of the judiciary and the alleged risk posed by the government to that independence, while the author of the article – obviously serving other expediencies and selfish interests – adopts all of the ‘arguments’ of the government’s opponents as self-evident, despite their having been struck down by courts of all levels. She flouts the rulings of the Greek judiciary because they are not to her liking, and she directs political labels and falsehoods at Nikos Kotzias, adopting extreme-right phraseology.”
The Financial Times piece mentions that “[Kotzias]’ court win intensifies fears for the rule of law in Greece.” Here are a few excerpts from the FT story published this morning:
Fears for the independence of the Greek judicial system are mounting after the foreign minister won a court order freezing the bank accounts of a leading magazine over a reader’s letter describing him as a former “fanatical” Stalinist.
The ruling in favour of Nikos Kotzias has drawn sharp criticism from academics and public figures, who say it violates EU law on freedom of expression. It also highlights broader concern over perceived interference in the justice system by the leftwing Syriza government.
The concerns widened beyond Greece last week when senior eurozone officials warned the government that the continued prosecution of Andreas Georgiou, its former statistics chief, over claims he inflated the size of the country’s budget deficit in 2009, threatened to drive a wedge between Athens and its euro area creditors.
Mr Kotzias, 66, is a divisive figure in Greece. The Germany-educated intellectual once co-authored a propaganda book with a top agent of the Stasi, the intelligence agency in East Germany. In Athens Mr Kotzias tutored members of the communist youth movement, among them Alexis Tsipras, now the prime minister.
After Syriza came to power in 2015 he become the party’s intellectual mentor. He has denied accusations that he worked as a Stasi agent in Greece, arguing in a 2015 media interview that he was ordered by Greek and East German Communist party officials to “write things that were nonsense”.