World Bulletin / News Desk
Dimitris Papangelopoulos said in a statement that a letter sent Wednesday by three European commissioners supporting the former statistics chief “directly violates not only the Greek Constitution but also the European institutional acquis.”
The letter to Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos expressed the commission’s full support for former Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) head Andreas Georgiou, who was charged in 2013 with inflating figures on the 2009 budget deficit. These figures served as the foundation of a bailout by the Eurozone and the International Monetary Fund.
“The three European officials are essentially asking the Greek government to interfere in the work of the independent Greek judiciary in favor of Mr. George, who is being investigated for possibly committing offences. It is shameful," the statement continued.
The letter was signed by three European Commissioners: Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Pierre Moscovici, and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labor Mobility Marianne Thyssen.
“The commission and Eurostat continue to have full confidence in the quality and reliability of the data delivered by Elstat during the term of office of Mr. Georgiou,” the letter said, urging the government to “actively and publicly challenge the false impression that data were manipulated during 2010-2015 and to protect ELSTAT and its staff from such unfounded criticism.”
In another rebuff to the letter, Greek Government spokesperson Olga Gerovasili Wednesday said that Finance Minister Tsakalotos expressed surprise that the letter was addressed to him, given that it concerns a case that goes back to 2010 and is currently under scrutiny by the Greek judicial system.
In an interview in daily TA NEA on Thursday, Thyssen expressed her concern about statements questioning the validity of the data the Greek Stability Program is based on.
Warning that ELSTAT’s "credibility could be lost in an instant,” she stated that this issue will be part of the second evaluation of the Greek program, and is already on the agenda of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers set for Sept. 9.
Greece’s economy has undergone a severe recession since the debt crisis began in 2008. In subsequent years, Greek politicians struck two bailout agreements with its international creditors and pushed for the implementation of harsh austerity measures that rocked people’s lives.
The left-wing Syriza party won the latest elections but failed to reject austerity measures as it had promised by striking the last bailout deal in July 2015.