Labour accuses Metsola of hypocrisy over silence on Greek sabotage of LIBE mission

Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba accuses EP President of double standards over silence on Greek cancellation of LIBE visits on rule of law mission

Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba
Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba

Labour and the Nationalist opposition yesterday launched missives at each other after MEP Alex Agius Saliba accused European Parliament president Roberta Metsola of hypocrisy in the face of the Greek government’s obstacles to visiting LIBE committee MEPs.

Agius Saliba said Metsola was silent in the face of the conservative-led Greek government, whose ruling party belongs to Metsola’s political family EPP (European People’s Party), and its hindrance of visiting LIBE MEPs to examine the state of rule of law in the country.

“Her silence shows her clear hypocrisy and double standards,” Agius Saliba said. “The Greek government hindered and jeopardised the visit by the MEPs from the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) to examine the state of the rule of law, governance and the wiretapping scandal in Greece.

“On top of that, the Greek government cancelled all meetings with the MEPs, and used the excuse of the train tragedy which took place on the 28 February.”

During his parliamentary visit in Greece along with other MEPs this week, Agius Saliba emphasised that Metsola and the EP had stayed silent and did not condemn the decisions taken by the Greek institutions not to meet the MEPs on such important and sensitive issues in Greece.

Agius Saliba said the S&D should move forward with a resolution in the European Parliament next week, condemning the Greek government and the silence of Metsola in face of such a sensitive situation in Greece.

“What applies to Malta should also apply to all member states of the European Union,” Agius Saliba said, recalling various visits from the LIBE committee to examine the state of rule of law in Malta. “The EPP were adamant on meeting Maltese officials when they came to investigate governance and rule of law in Malta. However, the EPP and Metsola are acting hypocritically and with double standards when it comes to the Greek Government,” the Labour MEP said.

“The EPP are not only silent in the face of all this, but they are now trying to present a resolution in the EP on the issue of the hospitals concession in Malta, deviating people’s attention from their silence, hypocrisy and double standards,” Agius Saliba said.

The EPP in fact announced on 6 March that they would not participate in the LIBE mission on rule of law in Greece. All other parties in the European Parliament participated in full in this mission.

The Nationalist Party hit back, accusing Labour of hypocrisy over its hospitals concession deals, the Electrogas fixed-price energy deal, and even claimed that Malta was “defending Putin and Russia” before following the EU’s lead on Ukraine.

“Hypocrites are those who defend the accused in criminal cases on revenge porn,” the PN said, in a reference to a suspended sentence on such charges for Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer. “Or those who defend the corrupt like Konrad Mizzi, who use taxpayers’ money to pay for the office and car of the former prime minister, and who defends those who murdered Daphne Caruana Galizia.”

Greece came in last in Reporters without Borders’ last media freedom ranking with the government passing a law giving authorities the power to send people to jail for up to five years for spreading alleged “fake news” deemed “capable of causing concern or fear to the public or undermining public confidence in the national economy, the country’s defense capacity or public health.”

The Greek sociallist opposition, Pasok, has been energised by revelations that its leader’s phone had been under surveillance by the state spy service.

In what was described by press reports as an “organised sabotage”, the Greek prime minister, the chief prosecutor, the secret services and police heads, and even the politically neutral Greek president all refused to meet with LIBE EU lawmakers.

The announced reason was the busy schedule following the train crash tragedy, which cost the lives of at least 57 people.

The LIBE committee in Athens met with several stakeholders representing civil society, the head of Greece’s privacy watchdog Hellenic Authority for Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE), regarding the wiretapping scandal and former anti-corruption chief Eleni Touloupaki.

The news about the two-day visit of the LIBE committee is almost inexistent in most pro-government Greek mainstream media.

On Wednesday, a press conference led by Renew Europe MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld was scheduled to present the results of the mission.

But it had to be re-scheduled as the Greek government decided to hold another press conference regarding the train tragedy almost at the same time.