Economist: NGO Scandal, an Embarrassment for Papandreou

NGO_PapandreouIn a recent article, the British magazine “The Economist” refers to the corruption in Greece after the latest scandals involving NGOs came to light, arguing that the country has become a “political minefield.”

“Scarcely a week goes by in Greece without new allegations of corruption in the public sector,” mentioned the article, which referred to the new scandal, while also putting blame on the former Greek PM George Papandreou, who gave his approval for setting up many of those organizations.

The article also referred to the NGO “International Mine Initiative,” which “is suspected of helping to protect Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader now on trial for war crimes,” while also referring to “hardline PASOK activists,” who were supporting the Serbs during the Yugoslav succession.

The Economist revealed that George Papandreou’s father and party founder, Andreas, provided financial and technical aid to the regime of late Slobodan Milosevic. “Papandreou though, has distanced himself from his party’s pro-Serbian faction,” commented the article, while mentioning that the current scandal has become an embarrassment for the former PM, “now a PASOK backbencher.”

NGOs received over €100 million until 2011

Back in 2011, a parliamentary Committee, who investigated suspicious activities of Greek NGOs, had reported that the state had provided NGOs with funds amounting over €100 million. “Over the past years, only few NGOs had been set up with specific aims and principles, while the gap in the legal framework only worsened the situation,” said the Committee report.

About €30 million, given to NGOs between 2000 and 2004, is still unaccounted for. Until the Greek financial crisis broke out in 2009, several NGOs had received huge chunks of money for engaging in rather “cloudy” activities.

Meanwhile, three leading NGOs in Greece are now claiming “unprecedented attacks” on such organizations. The Greek sections of ActionAid, Greenpeace and WWF say that NGOs should not be victimized because of the “lack of transparency and illicit aims” conducted by some entities.