Greece Paid Journalists $130 MIllion To Promote The "Greekness Of Macedonia"

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Tuesday, 15 December 2009



During 1989 to 1993 from secret funds of the Greek Foreign Ministry headed by Andonis Samaras, Greek journalists received $130 million dollars (US) to promote the "Greekness of Macedonia"!

Although these funds were originally intended for external promotion (read disinformation), they, according to the testimony of former Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis, ended up in pockets of Greek journalists.

- All of the funds were in black plastic bags, like those black trash bags you see, filled only with 5,000 bank notes. There were never checks, it was always cash. The money was mainly for propaganda over Macedonia's name, but instead of going abroad, this propaganda was directed towards the inside, our country - said Mitsotakis in front of a commission summoned to clarify the case.

The payment of huge lump sums coincided with the independence of Macedonia and the strengthening of internal propaganda and the so called "Macedoniazation" in Greece.

This scandal, which was first actualized by Athens based Eleftherotypia was buried in 1994 though it re-emerged once again after Andonis Samaras was elected as leader of New Democracy, which suffered a defeat by PASOK in the fall elections.

Samaras had been dismissed in 1992 as a Foreign Minister by then-Prime Minister Mitsotakis, who, like Papandreou, has now himself assumed the foreign ministry.

The investigation was completed without conclusions. These secret payments were investigated by Mitsotakis’ successor, the Greek Foreign Ministry, Government and current president Karolos Papoulias. The Greek Government issued no information and closed the investigation in the name of "higher national interests".

The dilemma whether the Greek Government bribed journalists as well as publishers across the country to publish material that would promote Athens’ agenda hangs in the air.

Andonis Samaras publicly acknowledged large amounts of money were paid to publishers, journalists, even local officials, adding all money were used for “national useful purposes”.

It is indicative that all documents were destroyed prior to Mitsotakis’ takeover of Greece’s FM from Samaras - on April 13, 1993. Samaras himself attested that the documents were destroyed on March 17 that year. The only thing left are the total amounts and recorded statements - the money were distributed by (Manolis Kalamidas close to Samaras and Dimitris Avramopoulos, a man of trust to Mitsotakis).

The scandal itself surfaced following the collapse of the Mitsotakis government in October 10, 1993. To make things more interesting, the Foreign Minister of the new government of PASOK - after Mitsotakis and Samaras - was none other than the current present President of Greece Karolos Papoulias!

Papoulias engaged a United States attorney, former judge, who practically discovered the secret funds. The investigation never revealed the names of journalists and news organizations that were at the receiving end of these payouts.

According to documents from the investigation on March 10, 1994 Mitsotakis before the Commission confirmed that there were secret funds from the MFA, adding funds also became available from banks and other large companies. Since taking office, Mitsotakis described the situation in the MFA as "bad" adding “presently we have only 40-48 million drachmas (220 thousand dollars), while large sums of money are directed to unknown persons without the appropriate paperwork”.

Mitsotakis explained the funds were distributed by the Minister, and controlled by three member commission appointed by the Minister. All documents, if any, were destroyed twice annually.

The former Greek prime minister asked Samaras to explain where the money went. Samaras never provided a concise answer, saying the money were spent on “Advertisement”.

Mitsotakis testified that he "personally knows journalists who received cash from the Government”. On the question to further explain how this was done, Mitsotakis provided further details: "There were bags of money. They were in black plastic bags, like those used in trash bins. Filled with 5,000 bills. All payments were in cash only, no checks. The money was mainly for propaganda over Macedonia's name, but instead of spending the money abroad, the propaganda was aimed inside."

Mitsotakis had knowledge that some of the money were intended for specific journalists to build Samaras’ political image. This current leader of New Democracy, Samaras, on April 21, 1994 before the committee denied that any funds were given to journalists in order to build himself up. Asked where did the huge amounts of unregistered payments went, he said "all the payments for practical purposes had been placed under item “information”.

In Greece, the law entitles the minister to dispose of secret funds for the costs of "national interest" and how they will use these funds depends on the Minister's "patriotism".

To all future 'journalists': move to Greece. The pay is good, you never have to write anything, all information comes pre-packaged.

Year ... Planned Payment ... Paid to Journalists ($132m)

1989 ... $12,2 million ... $18 million

1990 ... $11 million ... $11,3 million

1991 ... $13,8 million ... $27,8 million

1992 ... $22,6 million ... $41,1 million

1993 ... $23,9 million ... $34, 4 million

Source: MINA

Also in 1993, The Independent Newspaper in Britain Reported...

Nationalist Greece muzzles dissidents (CORRECTED)

LEONARD DOYLE, West Europe Editor

Monday, 16 August 1993

CORRECTION (PUBLISHED 18 AUGUST 1993) APPENDED TO THIS ARTICLE

GREECE is cracking down on citizens who publicly challenge the government's hard line on Macedonia and is pressing ahead with a series of extraordinary criminal prosecutions of dissenters.

Even criticising the long-dead Alexander the Great can get Greeks into trouble. A newspaper columnist, Michail Papadakis, who called Alexander a 'miserable slayer of people' has two legal cases pending against him. He has been called a 'national traitor' by the general secretary of the ruling New Democratic Party,

The severity of the government's crackdown against Greeks claiming Macedonian heritage and against the artists who have publicly supported them, is proving a deep embarrassment to the country's European Community partners. Athens has further annoyed the EC by tarnishing its reputation for tolerance of political dissent. The naming of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which borders Greece, could spell greater trouble. Athens remains unhappy about it because its northern province is also called Macedonia.

On arrival at Athens airport, the visitor is confronted by a series of posters proclaiming in English that 'Macedonia was, is, and will be Greek'. For Greeks who dare to offer a contrary view or suggest the country's Balkan neighbours are not necessarily its enemies, the result can be stiff fines and a lengthy jail sentence.

None of those prosecuted under Greece's draconian penal code has been charged with violent acts or other criminal behaviour, and the human rights group Helsinki Watch says the trials are violations of the basic right to freedom of expression, protected under international law.

In one case two Macedonian minority activists, Christos Sideropoulos and Tasos Boulis, were sentenced to five months in prison and a fine of 100,000 drachmas ( pounds 390 pounds) for telling Ena magazine that they 'feel Macedonian'.

More damaging from the government's point of view was their claim that there are one million Macedonians in Greece. That would put them at about 10 per cent of the population, a clearly unacceptable situation given that Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis claimed recently that 'We are the only Balkan country not to have minorities. The small Muslim community in Thrace has full rights.'

In September, an Athens court will hear an appeal by four members of an anti-nationalist group, convicted and sentenced to 19 months in prison last year for distributing a leaflet entitled Our Neighbours are not our Enemies. No to Nationalism and War.

Although the leaflet called for peace in the Balkans and criticised Greece's policies towards ethnic minorities, the four were charged with diseminating false information, attempting to incite acts of violence, and disturbing friendly relations with another country.

Not content with those convictions, the public prosecutor is said by Helsinki Watch to be preparing a case against the 169 artists and intellectuals who signed a petition on behalf of the four, who are out of jail on appeal.

CORRECTION

The political columnist in Greece being harassed by the government for insulting Alexander the Great is Takis Michas and not Michail Papadakis as was reported on 16 August.

Mr Papadakis, a student, has already been convicted and sentenced to one year in prison for distributing pamphlets calling Alexander a 'war criminal'. Mr Michas still has two legal cases pending against him.

Source: The Independent

 















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