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Internal and External Reactions to the Wiretapping Scandal in Greece

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The fact that Member of Parliament Nikos Andrulakis, the leader of the opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) in Greece, was secretly wiretapped by the Greek National Intelligence Agency (EYP) has caused a major scandal. Although EYP President Panagiotis Kontoleon resigned on August 5, 2022 following the scandal,[1] the opposition parties in Greece tried to put pressure on Prime Minister Kriakos Mitsotakis, thinking that there was a political responsible for this.

Since the day scandal emerged, Mitsotakis has been following a policy of avoiding taking political responsibility, claiming that the wiretaps were made without his knowledge. However, the point to consider is that the EYP is affiliated to the Prime Ministry.

If Mitsotakis is telling the truth on the fact that the scandal took place without his knowledge, this shows that the EYP does not hesitate to take actions without the knowledge of the institution to which it is affiliated. From the fact that Greek intelligence can resort to ways that can put the Prime Ministry in a difficult situation without the knowledge of the Prime Minister, to which it is affiliated, it is understood how strong the intelligence is within the country. This eavesdropping was carried out using Israeli spyware “predator”[2]  is also noteworthy in that it reflects the close cooperation between Tel-Aviv and Athens in the field of intelligence.

The fact that the Greek MP, who was subjected to eavesdropping, was also a member of the European Parliament (EP) caused the EP to be closely interested with the scandal. The Socialists and Democrats, the second largest political group of the EP, have made various criticisms on the subject, emphasizing the need for a political change in Greece and drawing parallels between this scandal and the Watergate Scandal in the United States (US).[3]

It is seen that the European People’s Party (EPP), to which Mitsotakis’ party is affiliated and has the largest number of seats in the EP, has remained silent on the scandal that emerged after the Greek opposition leader was eavesdropped. The fact that the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who is a member of the EPP, maintains her silence on this issue is a matter that needs to be focused on. Because if such a scandal had taken place in other European Union (EU) countries such as Hungary and Poland, it would have been unthinkable for von der Leyen and other EU top executives to remain silent. This points to two outcomes.

First, the EPP and von der Leyen have deliberately remained silent, as they are in alliance with Mitsotakis’ party. Second, the scandal shows that the democratic values that the EU claims to defend are applied selectively and only as a tool on countries. Therefore, the fact that the Mitsotakis Government is in harmony with the EU top management has prevented him from receiving harsh criticism from the bloc and putting pressure on him.

The meeting of the Greek Parliament which convened on August 26, 2022 marked by discussions on this scandal. In his speech to parliament, Mitsotakis defended the workings of the EYP by saying, “Nothing must bring into question this valuable operational branch of the the state.”[4] In response, Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and former Prime Minister, called Mitsotakis to resign.[5]

Whether the Greek opposition is capable of forcing Mitsotakis to resign is a question mark. Because the support of the EU top management for Mitsotakis strengthens the Prime Minister’s hand. In addition, it is understood from the words of Mitsotakis that radical decisions will not be taken on the EYP.

Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis recently expressed that the Russian President Vladimir Putin wants a new government in Greece[6] and tried to justify himself in this way and draw attention to another point in the midst of the wiretapping scandal. He tried to take advantage of the war conjuncture in Europe by linking the Greek opposition’s desire to resign with the fact that Russia does not want him. The fact that Mitsotakis made such a statement stems from his desperation in the face of the scandal.

As a result, although this scandal that broke out in Greece is associated by some circles with the Watergate Scandal in the US, it seems unlikely that it will be similar, at least in terms of its consequences. As it will be remembered, in 1974, after the Watergate Scandal, US President Richard Nixon was forced to resign. However, the American public and the media had quite an impact on Nixon’s resignation. Therefore, there are serious differences between a society such as the US, where public opinion and the media are the guiding and sometimes the decider, and the Greek society. Therefore, the resignation of Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis should not be expected.


[1] “Greek Intelligence Chief Resigns over Alleged Spying Scandal”, Euronews, https://www.euronews.com/2022/08/05/greek-intelligence-chief-resigns-over-alleged-spying-scandal, (Date of Accession:05.09.2022).

[2] Agnes Szucs , “EU Commission ‘Monitors Closely’ Developments on Greek Wiretapping Scandal”, Anadolu Agency, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/eu-commission-monitors-closely-developments-on-greek-wiretapping-scandal/2669219, (Date of Accession:05.09.2022).

[3] Sarantis Michalopoulos, “EU Socialist Chief: Greece Needs Political Change After ‘Watergate’ Scandal”, Euractiv, https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/eu-socialist-chief-greece-needs-political-change-after-watergate-scandal/, (Date of Accession:05.09.2022).

[4] Elena Becatoros, “Greek PM Defends Workings of Intelligence Service”, Associated Press,  https://apnews.com/article/elections-greece-c0988889167bdb147522991662c427ce , (Date of Accession:05.09.2022).

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Mitsotakis Sees Russian, Turkish Forces in Play Against Greece”, The National Herald, https://www.thenationalherald.com/mitsotakis-sees-russian-turkish-forces-in-play-against-greece/, (Date of Accession:05.09.2022).

Cemal Ege ÖZKAN
Cemal Ege Özkan, 2019 yılında Ankara Üniversitesi Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi Tarih Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2022 senesinde aynı üniversitenin Türk İnkılap Tarihi Enstitüsü Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılap Tarihi Anabilim Dalı’nda hazırladığı “Türk Siyasi Hayatında Selim Rauf Sarper ve Faaliyetleri” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Hâlihazırda aynı enstitüde doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. 2020-2021 yılları arasında Türk Tarih Kurumu Yüksek Lisans Bursiyeri olan Özkan, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.