With the assumption of the government in Greece by Kyriakos Mitsotakis in July 2019, it was clear from the beginning that there was a concentration in the exercise of power and then the provocation of a sense of fear in society.
The first example in the exercise of centralized power emanating from Maximos Mansion is the structure of the government. Deputy Ministers and Undersecretaries refer directly to the Prime Minister’s Office and not to their political superiors, Ministers. The Prime Minister is not interested in coordinating each Ministry in order to pursue a policy, but rather to make sure the Prime Minister’s Office knows everything.
From day one in Mitsotakis administration, the National Intelligence Service, Greek Public Television and Radio network and the Athenian and Macedonian Agency are under the direct control of the Prime Minister and his close associates, resulting in full control of the flow of information. In combination with the support of the media system, a lot is done but little is known and all information are filtered.
In a very short time, hundreds of journalists have been hired as communications consultants, staffing press offices, while at the same time continue working in the media, effectively manipulating public opinion. Almost any criticism to the government disappears.
Having largely taken control of the information, and manipulating public opinion, the Mitsotakis administration needs a catalyst for the exercise of power. This is where fear comes to play. Existent or non-existent, every “danger” is maximized.
Police exercises violence on a daily basis to maintain public order. Marginal groups are being targeted as enemies of society, political and social groups are also being targeted, while the police is forcibly taking care of the compliance of the socially “unruly”. Even reputable citizens, government voters, became the target of police violence when they opposed the temporary, without planning and prospect refugee measures.
The Civil Protection, throughout the summer, evacuated settlements and villages as a precaution in the event of fires or floods, even in situations where such mobilization was not necessary. The government’s fear of a new tragedy, as in the case of Mandra and Mati during the Tsipras administration, when they had shamelessly used the victims of the tragedy in their attack on the government, was a strong incentive not to give the opposition the chance to put them on the same spot. Of course, that is because they predict others’ behaviour by the sense of their own morality.
During the crisis on the Greek-Turkish border, at a time when economic policy was failing, resulting in a declined in growth, and with the country’s international image, which following repeated government mistakes, was collapsing, fear was again used to the fullest extent. Invasion, war, national unification and much more have always been heard together with the use of excessive force, by institutions or individuals.
Security has become synonymous to violence and fear. Greece’s enemies change their name every day, depending on the news and the interests of the government, while the feeling of fear remains. A fear which erupted with the health crisis and which they cleverly managed to instill on the citizens, who without information as there is not yet sufficient data for COVID-19, followed the instructions of the authorities.
And if Mitsotakis managed to pass the fear on to the citizens to a sufficient extent, he did not manage to overcome his own fears, which he has been trying to manage since the first moment he was elected Prime Minister.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis knows that he does not enjoy acceptance in his party. The fact that they flocked around him was a one-way street for all those who were left out of power for too long.
He also knows that he does not have the political skills that both his father, former Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, and his sister, former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, had.
He is and feels like a manager and that is why he works and exercises power in terms of business administration, while his close associates also come from this field.
This has been very evident in his recent contacts abroad with other political leaders. Without political intuition, he acted as a dealer, hoping to close the big deal of his business, which is now called Greece. Naturally, the results of all these efforts were meager and the isolation was deafening.
He chose to walk along with Merkel’s Germany, Kurz of Austria, Rutte of the Netherlands and Elysse’s tenant Macron.
If you don’t give, you won’t get, he said in a discussion we had in Saudi Arabia, answering a question about why he sent the Patriots to Riyadh and the frigate to the Persia Gulf.
But he also said something else in Cyprus. “I will not divide Europe in north and south”, he said, responding to a question whether the EU’s seven-nation bloc would convene again.
His isolation became evident during the coronavirus crisis, when the only ones he spoke with, beyond the group teleconferences, were Edi Rama and Averof Neophytou from Cyprus. He did not even talk to the President of the Republic of Cyprus during the pandemic.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Balkans are no longer considered by the government as Lebensraum for Greece, while for the first time there is such a great tension with neighbouring Turkey.
The truth is he has no true supporters on the international stage. In Europe, no one forgets his stance on the Prespa Agreement, and that remains his great burden.
Indeed, apart from Erdogan, who has spoken to almost all leaders, Borissov of Bulgaria, Vucic of Serbia had constant communications with other leaders, while even Pendarovski of North Macedonia spoke with Mike Pompeo.
The literal dissolution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with his decision to let the Director of his Diplomatic Office, a mediocre diplomat, take control of the Ministry, clearly reflects on the image of Greece abroad, which is absent from everywhere.
However, the fear of the Greek Prime Minister is growing, as the return to normality gradually begins.
Managing a crisis with society and the political system in repression is very different from pursuing a policy with the society active, the opposition waking up from its lethargy and with the problems that were swept under the rag during the management of the pandemic coming out in the foreground.
The real difficulties for Kyriakos Mitsotakis begin now, and it is up to him to refute the ominous future that is seen on the horizon./ibna