2011-03-26 Greek cablegate revelations: The secret people behind Prime Minister Papandreou, and the criticism from his party colleagues

WL Central continues the coverage of Greek diplomatic cables, revealed by SKAI media group and Kathimerini newspaper. Today’s cables refer to the internal party workings of PASOK from 2007 until today, with the last cable being especially interesting as it reveals key and unknown people behind the Prime Minister Papandreou.

PASOK, whose leader is George Papandreou, now Prime Minister of Greece, was the main opposition party during the period 2007-2009 and from 2009 until today it is the ruling party. PASOK self-indentifies as a socialist party. However, since PM Papandreou’s administration orchestrated Greece’s loan from the International Monetary Fund and the EU, and its subsequent impact on the living standards of Greeks, its popularity diminishes at an unprecedented pace.

PASOK’s leadership crisis; “Knives sharpened” states the American ambassador

“PASOK’s defeat in the September 16 [2007] election has prompted a furious internal debate over the party’s leadership” notes the American ambassador in the cable dated October 11, 2007. Immediately, after the defeat of PASOK in the national elections from the right-wing party New Democracy, PASOK’s president George Papandreou, was immediately challenged by former colleague Evangelos Venizelos.

Among others, the embassy’s attaché notes that even if Papandreou wins the internal party elections, his supporters believe that the party needs a leadership change and also that the best people for the presidency aren’t even candidates. He states that much of Papandreou’s support is lukewarm, and that he was considering resigning.

In an almost prophetical tone the cable continues: “Papandreou declared PASOK the party of "radical platforms;"[…] He sought, he said, a meaningful political mandate that would allow him to reconstruct the party and be ready for the next general election campaign”.

He concludes by saying that “Venizelos can win an election – But Papandreou can win the party”.

2011-03-22 Greek cablegate revelations

The US ambassador on the state of Greek mainstream media.

Charles Ries, the then US ambassador in Athens, comments on the “incestuous” state of Greek media and newspapers. In a cable dated July 13, 2006 he notes that although at a first glance Greek media appear orderly arranged with constitutional guarantees in place, much like “the media in the U.S”, a closer inspection, “reveals a Greek media industry controlled by business tycoons whose other successful businesses enable them to subsidize their loss-making media operations”.

He states characteristically that Greece has the triple amount, or even more, of newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations, compared to Portugal which has the same population. He also says that, due to the lack of newspaper subscriptions and the fact that newspapers have to sell themselves from newsstands, “even the occasional calm and partially accurate story will have a misleading or untrue headline that often has nothing to do with the story”, often using DVD and book giveaways as buying incentives.

Concerning the state of internet journalism he states that “the same media companies that own newspapers and broadcasting stations have established internet news portals, but they have not taken off”. Specifically, “there are no "Salons" or "Drudge Reports"”.

Although, he continues, the public generally distrusts the media, there are high levels of anti-Americanism “because people like to vent their frustrations”. However, he states, in a deeper level “you will find that the public is generally content with the decisions the government makes, even those where Greece and the U.S. are allied“.

He then refers to the ethnocentricity that prevails in Greek media, with the problems of the average Greek consuming a great portion of news and with foreign developments receiving a very limited and scarce coverage.

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