A Free Broadcaster Starts with Interrogation in Greece

tagmatarchis tsaknis konsta

The session of the Parliamentary Committee on Institutions and Transparency to approve the appointment of the board of directors of the national broadcaster (ERT) turned into another show of dictatorial behavior by Greek House Speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou.

Only a few days after she reprimanded a police officer for daring to perform his duties, Konstantopoulou acted as the all-powerful political authority of Greece, the keeper of democracy, the watchful guard of law and order, the protector of people’s rights, the communist ruler wannabe.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appointed Lambis Tagmatarchis CEO of national broadcaster ERT and Dionysis Tsaknis president. Tagmatarchis was ERT CEO in the 2010-2012 period, before the previous government shut down the broadcaster and replaced it with NERIT amid public uproar in June 2013.

According to State Minister Nikos Pappas, Tagmatarchis was chosen because of his expertise and work experience. Also, he was probably the only ERT manager who managed to leave the broadcaster with a 70 million euros primary surplus.

Apparently, that wasn’t enough for the head of the committee, Zoe Konstantopoulou, who turned the session into a ten-hour marathon interrogation of Tagmatarchis mainly. Indeed, the whole procedure was more like an interrogation than anything else. Like a Soviet-style hearing committee where the innocent tries to prove his innocence under the sarcastic smile of the interrogator who has condemned him already.

The questions were also aimed at the political beliefs of the “accused”. Questions like, “what did you do when ERT was shut down?” or “how did you react that day?”, or “do you believe that it was the workers’ fault that ERT was shut down?”

The last question was repeated several times by SYRIZA MP Rachel Makris who was not satisfied by the answers Tagmatarchis gave. At some point she asked him if he is the godfather of appointed board member Elisavet Papakonstantinou. Tagmatarchis answered “no” but that wasn’t satisfactory either. Makris then turned to Papakonstantinou and asked her to confirm. Tagmatarchis then humorously said “I will swear on the Bible”.

To that Konstantopoulou answered, “This is not an interrogation”. It was the funniest thing she said in the ten excruciating hours of the interrogation.

Even Parliament Vice President Alexis Mitropoulos could not stand the authoritative behavior of Konstantopoulou and at some point turned to Tagmatarchis and said, “Some of the questions addressed to you were undignified and you were not obligated to answer.”

To that the House Speaker said that she was not interrogating Tagmatarchis and colleagues should not tell each other how to do their job. Mitropoulos replied that, “We don’t have the right to torment people with good background, dignity, family and friends. We simply don’t have the right.”

But almighty Konstantopoulou believes she has the right to everything. The fact that she was elected Parliament President does not justify her arrogant behavior, her proclivity to be condescending and sarcastic to everyone who doesn’t share the same opinions. It is often that she has crossed the bounds of her position and her attitude towards the people who will be responsible for the national broadcaster was downright insulting. And contrary to the supposedly “democratic” beliefs she claims to have.

The old saying that the more someone screams about democracy, the less democratic (s)he is fits Konstantopoulou perfectly.

As for singer-songwriter Dionysis Tsaknis who was appointed president of ERT, he was not interrogated by Konstantopoulou. He may not have any kind of managerial or administrative experience to be at the helm of the national broadcaster but he has irresistible qualifications: He is a member of the Greek Communist Party, so he qualifies.


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