In the beginning was the scandal, in and of itself.
There was an extensive operation – as everyone by now recognises and has been proven – to corrupt the broader health system: doctors, pharmacists, officials at hospitals and insurance funds, their supervisors, and by extension the entire country. The operation was conducted by the multinational pharmaceutical company Novartis, with the aim of securing a dominant market position, thus impacting on the international market, growing the company and reaping super-profits.
There can be no doubt that the managers of the multinational company conceived and executed successfully a plan of directed prescription-writing, offering bribes and gifts to a plethora of people willing to accept their inclusion in this larcenous plan for dominance.
The means used were clearly improper, but the wave of corruption that they unleashed was unprecedented in magnitude and extent. The corruption operation took place at the cusp, just before the looming collapse and bankruptcy.
It is also true that this was not the only company involved in such practices. Those in the know were aware that other domestic and foreign pharmaceutical companies implemented similar designs that harmed the country, taking away crucial funding from the Greek people, and contributing hugely to the crisis that has tortured us for the last eight years.
That is why they are unpardonable. That mandates audits and the pursuit of a major damages settlement for the generalised, organised, and proven theft that they committed fully consciously.
All that is one pillar of the case. The other is linked to the probe of the case, with the possible – many would say likely – involvement of politicians in the scheme to corrupt and pillage the country.
It is clear at this point that the investigation is limping along, and that possibly those in the government who are responsible succumbed to the temptation of exploiting the scandal in order to annihilate their political opponents.
The court files that arrived at parliament are problematic. The testimony is haphazard. It comes from unknown protected witnesses. The charges directed at two former prime ministers and eight former ministers are extremely heavy, and are largely based on hearsay and the conviction of the witnesses, rather than on actual evidence, that would be sufficient to provide the necessary proof.
Even worse, there is a pervasive sense that those accused were chosen with the aim of targeting particular political figures that have been distinguished by their opposition activity and behavior.
To the extent that all these witness allegations are not supported by specific evidence and palpable proof, they dynamite the political climate, sow division, fuel a civil war-type atmosphere, and intensify society’s prevalent impression of a general lack of credibility of the country’s political establishment.
Should such divisive and destructive conditions prevail, that will obviously bolster extremist, anti-political voices. At the same time it will shake the country’s course at a time when it must confront intractable national issues, such as the “Macedonian” naming issue and the economy.
Under the present conditions, Greece needs stability. Without stability, any opportunities to handle national issues will be lost, and at the same time the danger will arise of sliding into a new economic crisis, instead of leaving behind the bailout memorandums.
This is why the government bears a great responsibility. There is neither room nor time for power plays.
That does not mean that the scandal should not be investigated or that the guilty, whoever they may be, should be able to hide behind the country’s needs. The demand for getting to the bottom of the case is strong, and it is a demand of the Greek people. Yet, nothing justifies machinations and institutional acrobatics.
The political system is obliged at once to uncover the scandal and to protect the country.