By Aris Ravanos

There is a raging war between the office of the prime minister and main opposition New Democracy over the arrangement of a bank loan for the Diodos technical company, owned by the siblings of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – Dimitris and Zanet Tsipras.

The clash between the two main political players is expected to become fiercer in the near future.

Even as the leadership of New Democracy insists on demanding answers to relentless questions, the PM is under fire from almost all opposition forces, and by the extra-parliamentary left, regarding the moral advantage of the left, which has been placed in doubt.

Tensions are prevalent on the political scene, and the clash is powerful, presaging what will follow in the near future.

The government will attempt to exploit alleged political corruption scandals, such as the Novartis case, bank loans, and the case of the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO).

For New Democracy, the Tsipras family affair is a major political and moral issue, and it will keep up the pressure, with daily requests for answers from the PM himself, regarding the manner in which Diodos, which is owned by his siblings, was included in a 2016 arrangement of a 243,544 euro loan, with monthly repayment instalments of just 300 euros.

The main opposition is placing great emphasis on the affair, and top ND cadres – such as spokesperson Maria Spyraki, party vice-president Adonis Georgiadis, and Serres MP Kostas Karamanlis (nephew of the former PM– have undertaken to highlight the issue systematically.

“The technical company Diodos owned by the Tsipras family attempted in 2012 to land a public work worth 1.1mn euros, with a forged certificate of up-to-date insurance contributions. For this reason, in 2015, the PM’s brother Dimitris Tsipras was put on trial,” Spyraki said yesterday. The ND leadership has instructed her to further politicise the loan issue, which is a central political choice, and to keep it in the news.

Despite the denial of the Tsipras family’s lawyer Yannis Mantzouranis, Spyraki insisted that, “In August, 2016, the law of justice minister Paraskevopoulos was changed overnight, so that the substance of the Tsipras case could not be reviewed by the court.”

‘Abuse of power’

Spyrakis said ND is seeking answers on the facts of the case, and explained that, “From the moment we saw the press revelation, we had a duty to demand an explanation, because there is a scent of abuse of power, due to the existence of a forged insurance certificate, and because the court did not try the case, simply because a related legislative provision was passed.”

According to Georgiadis, the central issue is the favour displayed towards the PM’s brother by the Tsipras government.

“Alexis Tsipras legislated for his brother so that he would not be convicted in a forgery case, which would mean he could not undertake public works,” Georgiadis said.

MP Kostas Karamanlis underlined that SYRIZA has played a leading role in political mudslinging over the last years.

Counter-attack

The PM’s office went on the offence after a barrage of attacks by New Democracy, stating that the answers to the organised attack will be given in a court of law by those involved. They said that ND is inventing non-existent scandals because the government  is leading the country out of the memorandums , to which New Democracy condemned the country, and they also revealed the next part of their strategy.

“The Novartis case is maturing and pregnant, while Mr. Mitsotakis at some point will have to account for his assets, the PM’s office said.

The PM’s siblings decided to take a stand yesterday, announcing that they will sue their accusers in court.

“Because over the last days New Democracy is disseminating to the media that support it miserable allegations, mudslinging and vulgarities at our expense, to serve their personal and party interests, we underline that slander is both a civil and criminal offence. It is not justified by any opposition passion, and it will be addressed in the competent courts, where every law-abiding citizen can file suit,” Dimitris and Zanet Tsipras said in a statement.

What is interesting in this case is that certain SYRIZA cadres are slowly deciding to keep their distance from the affair, including Deputy Development Minister Stergios Pitsiorlas, who said that relatives of politicians should not be inserted in the political battle.

He was essentially expressing what other cadres are saying privately, which is that polarisation must focus on specific political issues.

“We must leave behind spouses and relatives and operate at another level,” Pistiorlas said.