"120 ECtHR convictions for Greece in the last five years"
- Damon Damianos/Gundem
According to a post on his Facebook page, an article by Stefanou Manou, a former minister of the New Democracy, with the title "The image of Greece as a state governed by the rule of law," was published on page 18 of the newspaper "Kathimerini" on February 27. Mr. Manos, who is now out of politics, has gone through a long political journey as an elected MP since the 1970s with the N.D. party. He served as a minister in key ministries with his last government term in the Ministry of Finance in the government of Konstantinos Mitsotakis in the period 1990-93, while he was also elected MP with PASOK in 2004 following a proposal by George Papandreou that had provoked reactions within his party.
We present today Mr. Manou's article on the Greek Justice's adventures with the European Court of Human Rights, in context of Mr. Douka and Mr. Kyrtsou's recent dismissals from the N.D., in the sense that they are part of an effort to restore Greece's international prestige.
The former minister, referring to the cases that occupied the ECHR and concerned Greece for the last five years, presents the sad record of the 120 convictions for our country, which have deeply damaged the international reputation of Greece as a state governed by the rule of law. You can read Mr. Manos' article in detail below.
«The recent dismissals of prominent New Democracy executives, in my opinion, could be part of an effort to regain the country's international prestige. In a public meeting attended by the cabinet minister Mr. Spilios Libanos, the Mayor of Sparta, Mr. Doukas, claimed that New Democracy won the 2007 elections by generously distributing money to those afflicted by fire and those who were not.
Without any hesitation, New Democracy removed Mr. Doukas, saying that «what he said, apart from being historically untrue, has nothing to do with the principles and values of New Democracy. As a result, he was notified of the relevant dismissal decision by a member of the party».
Whether or not what Mr. Doukas claimed is historically incorrect, and whether or not it relates to New Democracy's principles and values, let me to be skeptical. After all, it would have been simple to publish lists those persons who got Mr. Doukas' "aids" in 2007 during the Pierrakakis era in order to establish the historical truth. It would also be simple for the "K" reportage of that time to republish how the money was distributed. The principles and values of New Democracy did not prevent it from loading DEKO with thousands of well-paid non-functioning personal. Well paid by taxpayers of course.
However, the recent clear denunciation of past practices has value for the present and the future. From now on, I hope, and I express my wish, that the media does not allow even the slightest amount of corruption with public money to go unnoticed. The New Democracy reminded us that it has principles and values and we must help it not to deviate from them. The expulsion of an MEP followed because «with his posts, he internationally discredited the country by questioning the independence of the Greek judiciary and comparing Greece with states (meaning Hungary, Poland) that violate the rules of the rule of law. Defamation of the country, on the other hand, will not be tolerated».
I do not hide from you that I am particularly pleased with the strong promotion of New Democracy's sensitivity regarding the good reputation of Greece. I see it, as I did much more for the "acquisition" of voters, as a hopeful commitment for the future.
I will quote some publicly available information to show that in addition to statements and posts, reality can contribute to defaming the country. I do this to point out that this reality is shaped by the current leadership of the country. Political and judicial.
Last Wednesday, an audio document was published apparently involving (if it turns out to be true) the late Vgenopoulos and a representative of Mrs. Thanou asking for money to avoid legal troubles. I hope there will be a thorough and rapid investigation.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is based in Strasbourg. Citizens apply to this after exhausting the legal remedies of their country. The Greek citizen who apply in Strasbourg has the state as his/her opponent. The number of cases that reach the ECtHR and especially the number of convictions of the Greek state is a safe measurable criterion for the quality of court decisions.
I quote a table that shows all the decisions and convictions of the ECHR in the five years 2017-2021 that concern Greece and for comparison I chose the corresponding data for five European countries. For each country I also mention the population with the thought that for the correct evaluation of the data the population must be taken into account.
The numbers, which are openly available on the internet, speak for themselves and discredit the Greek justice. In the last five years (2017-2021) the ECtHR issued 134 Decisions. Of these, 120 were convicted! At a rate of 90%. Only Hungary's performance is worse. Poland's performance is clearly better. Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands must belong to another world.
The question does not end after the issuance of the conviction in the ECHR. The decision must be executed in Greece by the courts or the administration. We are among the first in convictions, but also among the first in the unimplemented decisions of the ECtHR. Parliament recognized the problem and set up a special committee, the ECHR Decisions Monitoring Committee. The Chairman of the Committee is the Larissa MP of New Democracy, Mr. Maximos Harakopoulos.
Mr. Harakopoulos achieved something completely unusual for our parliamentary morals. He coordinated representatives of all parties (except KKE and Hellenic Solution) who ended up accepting the proposal of the chairman of the Legal Council of the State Mr. Chalkias and formulating a joint bill submitted to Parliament in July 2020.
In his statements before the Speaker of Parliament Mr. Tassoula on July 20, 2020, Mr. Harakopoulos said, among other things: “Regarding the bill itself, I must state that its goal is to restore Greece's image in the international community as a rule-of-law state that respects human rights fully”.
You understand that Mr. Harakopoulos was aware of the problem to say that the image of Greece needs to be restored.
On the same day, July 20, 2020, the Speaker of Parliament congratulated Mr. Harakopoulos "for the substantial activation of the Special Monitoring Committee of the Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights". As he said, "although the Special Committee does not have legislative power, the initiative is particularly commendable, which as a draft law will be discussed in the competent Standing Committee on Public Administration, Public Order and Justice". In fact, he gave instructions for the necessary procedures so that the draft law could be introduced for elaboration and discussion as soon as the Parliament resumed its work following the summer break.
Nineteen months have passed since the Speaker of Parliament "gave instructions" so that the rare consensus bill that would restore the image of Greece in the international community as a state governed by the rule of law is somewhere unused.
I explained that I am satisfied with the sensitivity of New Democracy regarding the good reputation of Greece. The work of the Harakopoulos Committee and the President of the Legal Council of the State, Mr. Chalkias, would have strengthened its good reputation if it had not met the indifference (the milder version) of the Speaker of Parliament.
Article 73 of the Constitution stipulates that the legislative initiative lies with the parliamentarians and the government. In the extremely rare cases where MPs from nearly all parties agree on a joint bill, the Speaker of Parliament, in my opinion, has an obligation to facilitate the discussion and vote of the proposal in plenary as a matter of priority. The Speaker of Parliament is elected by the parliamentarians and not by the government. He must be served to them first. Then the good reputation of parliamentarism is gained.
With his stance, the Speaker of Parliament discredits parliamentarism and makes it difficult to restore the image of Greece in the international community as a rule-of-law state».
Translated by Kerem Abdurrahimoğlu