ATHENS.- ANA – “Rumours surrounding a cabinet reshuffle are completely inaccurate,” Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said in a statement released on Friday evening.
The government on Friday lashed out at main opposition PASOK less than a day after press reports brought to light an unusual university transfer of PASOK spokesman Spyros Vougias’ daughter, which the government juxtaposed with the resignation of Agriculture Development Minister Savvas Tsitouridis this week over a controversial college transfer for his son.
“Yesterday, I called on Mr. (PASOK leader George) Papandreou to dismiss Mr. Vougias over the case (the college transfer of the latter’s daughter), and Mr. Papandreou has not answered. This is the moral difference that we referred to yesterday, and this demonstrates that Mr. Papandreou professes this morality as a slogan but not as a principle by which to live by,” government spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos told reporters at his daily press briefing.
Hours earlier, Papandreou rejected any notion that the reason for Wednesday’s resignation by Tsitouridis — who stepped down after opposition criticism that his son received preferential treatment in transferring to an Athens university — was in any way similar to a transfer granted to the PASOK’s spokesman’s daughter. Vougias initially said his daughter’s transfer was justified on account of his standing at a university professor, something that the government spokesman also disputed.
In reference to the Tsitouridis case, Roussopoulos underlined that the ex-minister “had the courage and resilience to submit his resignation, whereas Mr. Vougias, while acting in an illegal manner, not only had the political conscientiousness to resign but put forth the reasoning of ‘why all the other and not me?”
The furor concerning Tsitouridis erupted after an opposition PASOK MP tabled a question in Parliament requesting details on how and why the ex-minister’s son successfully transferred from a university in Crete to a school in Athens, Panteios, by citing “security reasons”.
Conversely, press reports on Thursday pointed to PASOK spokesman Vougias’ daughter as transferring from a university in Xanthi to the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, where Vougias is a tenured professor.
On his part, Papandreou said the two cases are different and “shouldn’t counter-balance” each other. He also said that PASOK deputy and former Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party leader Maria Damanaki will request all relevant documents concerning the often controversial issue of university transfers in the country.
Two days earlier, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis called Tsitouridis to his office in the early evening, with the Thessaloniki-area deputy later emerging to announce his resignation.
Vougias served as a deputy with then ruling PASOK (elected on the state deputies’ ballot) between April 2000 and Jan. 24, 2004, when he resigned in the aftermath of the Porto Carras furor. He was also excluded from PASOK’s ballots. At one point, he also served as a deputy transport and communications minister in the previous Simitis government.
Asked if the government intended to provide the particulars of all of the names of students who requested transfers that are linked to a public figure or interest, Roussopoulos referred the issue to universities’ administrations, before stressing that the education ministry’s leadership has clearly said it wants to change the current legal framework for such transfers.
In a related development, Friday witnessed the beginning of a trial of 10 college students and two Panteios employees accused of forging documents and multiple counts of fraud in order to achieve illegal university transfers between 1998 and 1999.
Most of the forged documents involved medical statements. The two accused Panteios employees worked in the school’s sociology department.
In a press release, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) referred to policy of disorientation being cultivated over the past few days by both ND and PASOK, ‘with the participation and support of mass media owners’.
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party leader Nikos Constantopoulos, inaugurating the party’s two-day Central Committee conference on Saturday ahead of the Coalition’s 4th regular congress on December 9-12, blamed both mainstream parties for the situation created in the country lately.
Commenting on the current political scene, Constantopoulos said he discerned a situation which “is knocking about in the quicksand of an organic crisis”, adding that the causes were “political and institutional, social and economic” which “are not being handled by government policies and the country’s political system.”
Constantopoulos further said instead of the bipartisan system of governance giving a different meaning to politics for the 21st century on a democratic social vision for the times to come, it is highlighting the dispute on domestic degenerating distortions which it is causing itself.
Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou told reporters on Friday that the law on student transcriptions will be amended.
“Since doubts have been created for the Greek people with all that has been heard these days, the government and the (former agriculture) minister Mr. (Savvas) Tsitouridis did their duty out of sensitivity and because the law, as it had been formulated for social criteria, could include anything. I wish to announce to you that a proposal will be produced next week on the amendment of the law,” she said.
Yiannakou said the criteria in question will be clear, specific and restrictive and will leave no ground for various interpretations at times.