Editorial: Eleftherotypia publisher defiant

Eleftherotypia publisher Harris Ikonomopoulos issues a staunch defence of his first five months at the helm of the newspaper and its associated media, to which Enet and EnetEnglish also belong

Eleftherotypia publisher Harris Ikonomopoulos issued a staunch defence of his first five months at the helm of the newspaper and its associated media, to which Enet and EnetEnglish also belong.

"Eleftherotypia does not back parties, but ideas. It doesn't support statism, but society, justice and hope," he wrote in a Sunday editorial titled Edimorial. "It's nobody's instrument, and it doesn't care about the occasional antics of the puppets of the system, who have been trying to undermine it since the very announcement of its relaunch."

Ikonomopoulos has acquired 67% of Eleftherotypia’s shares from the Tegopoulos family, which founded it in 1975 but declared bankruptcy in 2011. He has spent more than €500,000 of his own money relaunching it as an independent, non-partisan newspaper.

His personal comments come as he prepares to restructure the troubled group. Last week he asked 197 staff, who are owed six weeks’ worth of wages, to decide whether or not they wanted to remain on payroll, but offered them no incentives to stay or go.

On Sunday, he struck a defiant note. "Despite efforts to undermine it, Eleftherotypia was published on January 10, following a nearly one-year absence. And of course it continues to come out … It comes out although powerful trade unionists try to trip us up with the help of several others. It comes out without support from the banks, which, strengthened with public money, could only benefit from the relaunch."

Ikonomopoulos, a lawyer by trade, has laboured unaided by bank financing or union support. He is something of a renegade on the Greek publishing scene, where virtually all media belong to established interests, mainly in shipping and construction.

He broadsided other, unnamed media magnates as "politically connected and suspiciously rich". He attacked traditional alliances between the media and the party political system. "Some argue that the relaunch of Eleftherotypia, in its first stage, did not have a clear and consistent political position. And what they mean, of course, is party affiliation, based on the fading divisions of the post-dictatorship era."

Ikonomopoulos says he wants his media group to contribute to a rebirth of Greek society. "The publication was started with a goal of opening a path for the reform of the political system and the renaissance of society, for dialogue and cooperation to come up with solutions … and this it will continue to do. And it will move forward as it can and with those who can."

He ends his note: "This publication is a project in progress, with a burning desire to contribute towards the realisation of many people's vision to help Greece start a new chapter. To revive the hope for justice, effective governance, dignity and progress. To see the Greek people joining forces; having each other's back instead of being at each other's throats. Putting their stakes on a new Greece, with meritocracy and sense, a country with future."

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