EnetEnglish.gr, 15:07 Wednesday 2 April 2014
Samaras close aide resigns over Golden Dawn contacts
Video shows cabinet secretary Takis Baltakos in conversation with Ilias Kasidiaris
Neonazi Golden Dawn releases video showing cabinet secretary Takis Baltakos, a close aide of Antonis Samaras, engaging in what appears of be a friendly conversation with Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris over the crackdown on the neonazi party
A senior aide to Antonis Samaras has resigned after a video emerged showing him telling a leading Golden Dawn MP that the crackdown on the neonazi party following the murder of hip-hop singer Pavlos Fyssas was designed to stem the loss of New Democracy votes.
The video shows Takis Baltakos, appointed to the powerful position of cabinet secretary by the prime minister in June 2012, engaging in what appears of be a friendly conversation with Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris.
During the conversation, Baltakos can he heard saying that there was no evidence to substantiate the crackdown on Golden Dawn following Fyssas fatal stabbing by a Golden Dawn supporter last September.
Video with English subtitles from Kostas Kallergis' When the Crisis hit the Fan blog
He says that Justice Minister Haralambos Athanassiou and Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias appealed to the devout beliefs of Supreme Court chief prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani to convince her that Golden Dawn were "pagans, idolaters, Nazis and opposed to Christianity".
Baltakos also said that the crackdown on Golden Dawn was to stop the party drawing support from New Democracy.
Kasidiaris released transcripts of the conversation in parliament on Wednesday. The 2.5-minute video was uploaded earlier to a Russian video sharing website.
Announcing his resignation, Baltakos said that due to the close proximity of the offices of his general secretariat with Golden Dawn's offices, he had "frequent coincidental meetings with MPs of that party [Golden Dawn]".
"In one of those random meetings, immediately after the detention of [Golden Dawn MPs] Michaloliakos, Pappas and Lagos, Mr Kasidiaris asked to see me privately.
"He began the conversation by accusing me of participating in a conspiracy against them, an accusation directed me constantly in the days beforehand by him and other members of Golden Dawn.
"I denied this and tried to get rid of the pressure. In the course of this discussion, everything I said was to serve that purpose and no other, ie to avoid this pressure, since this 'conspiracy' had nothing to do with reality.
"In any case, in the following days, when new information emerged, I had the opportunity to tell Mr Kasidiaris and others - and even in the presence of many witnesses - that there was no collusion or conspiracy against them, conversations with this deputy has not disclosed.
"Due to the racket this has created, for reasons of personal sensitivity I have submitted my resignation and I apologise for the inconvenience caused."
Following the revelation that the conversation had taken place involving Baltakos, his son, a serving member of the coastguard's sub-aqua unit, turned up at parliament and physically assaulted and verbally abused Golden Dawn MPs (see video below). Cursing wildly, he proceeded to kick the doors of three Golden Dawn deputies, before reportedly striking Michail Aravanitis twice in the face, punching Nikos Kouzilos and kicking Artemis Mathaiopoulos.
EnetEnglish's translation of the transcript (updated)
Kasidiaris: To begin with when I came out [of remand], can you tell me how Samaras took it?
Baltakos: He was in America then.
Kasidiaris: Yes, he was in America, but I heard he nearly had a stroke.
Baltakos: It was mad! It was crazy, fucking hell ... he didn't call me, I told him what you were doing ... I had told him. He wouldn't [therefore] tell me about these things. He got the other two and he fucked them out it: [Justice Minister Haralambos] Athanassiou and [Public Order Minister Nikos] Dendias. "You made a fool out of me, you tricked me, you humiliated me." Because the day before, Samaras had made a statement at the American Zionist conference [American Jewish Congress] that "They are finished, I busted them, busted them, it's all over!" And the next day you're released from jail.
Kasidiaris: What happened with the investigating magistrates who let us out at the crucial moment? After they let us out, they got the others and did a U-turn.
Baltakos: They let you out for the simple reason that there is no evidence.
Kasidiaris: Yes, good, there was nothing.
Baltakos: And no none picked up the phone to pressurise them because everyone thought it was so obvious ... everyone took it for granted: "But what can the investigating magistrate do?" The investigating magistrate had no evidence! Nothing!
Kasidiaris: And he had none for the others either ...
Baltakos: But there was for the others … [he makes the gesture of holding a phone with his hand]
Kasidiaris: Who's to blame for that?
Baltakos: Both of them.
Kasidiaris: Dendias, Athanassiou?
Baltakos: Who else?
Kasidiaris: And did Samaras have to say? Was he aware of what what was going on?
Baltakos: No, he didn't at the start ... but when he saw the opinion polls ... he thought, the bourgeois that he is, that all this terrible. "They'll [Golden Dawn] will go down to 2%, he says" ... And I said: "I'm telling you, they will go up to 20%." He says: "You're an asshole."
Kasidiaris: Who told him to do all this?
Baltakos: First of all, he's afraid for himself. Because you are cutting his lead over Syriza.
Kasidiaris: We take votes, is that it?
Baltakos: That makes sense.
Kasidiaris: And because we take his votes he puts us jail?
Baltakos: Motherfucker ... an incredible thing, unbelievable.
Kasidiaris: And what about what [former justice minister] Roupakiotis said?
Baltakos: That's for sure, since he did it the week he was going there.
Kasidiaris: [Supreme Court chief prosecutor Efterpi] Koutzamani, the things she did, I have information that she is totally on the right.
Baltakos: [Makes the sign of the cross]
Kasidiaris: She's so devout.
Kasidiaris: How did she do these disgraceful things with [Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Haralambos] Vourliotis and come up with these findings?
Baltakos: They convinced her that "they are pagans, idolaters, Nazis and opposed to Christianity".
Kasidiaris: Who persuaded her of all that?
Baltakos: Athanassiou and Dendias.
Kasidiaris: You should go to the prosecutor and tell him who set up this whole conspiracy: that Athanassiou gave orders to Koutzamani, that Samaras had given orders to Athanassiou, and all of them should go on trial. If you are a just man, this is what you should do.
Baltakos: If I'm do this now, she will order a preliminary investigation lasting a half an hour and they will shelve it.
Kasidiaris: You think so?
Baltakos: Well, of course! Am I going to do that with Samaras in government? To which prosecutor would I go? Koutzamani is a prosecutor. I'm going to denounce Koutzamani to herself ?
Kasidiaris: How did Koutzamani become Supreme Court prosecutor?
Baltakos: Because she's from the same village.
Kasidiaris: So now she's repaying the debt.
Baltakos: Yes, she's from the same village. Ok, not from the same village, but from a nearby village. They've been in the same competition, they are almost the same age. They are compatriots, there's nothing more to it."
More later ...
Who is Takis Baltakos?
Takis Baltakos was appointed by Antonis Samaras to the key political position of government general secretary in June 2012.
He has been identified with the most rightwing section of New Democracy, and is said to have "led opposition" to proposals crackdown on neonazi Golden Dawn.
In December 2012, he told the head of the National Commission for Human Rights, Kostis Papaioannou, that "he doesn't care, in his capacity as a representative of the government and New Democracy, about the committee's work and human rights, nor about the country's international obligations". Papaioannou was presenting his annual report to the government. He said Baltakos opened it at a chapter on racist violence and threw it on the table, saying, "We are not interested in the human rights of foreigners."
In 2013, he is alleged to have said that cooperation between New Democracy and Golden Dawn in future elections was "undesirable but not an unlikely possibility".
In May 2013, it was reported that he was one of the key officials involved in holding up an antiracism bill on the grounds that it could "potentially cause problems". The bill would have outlawed incitement against people because of their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation, and impose jail sentences of up to six years on offenders.
Baltakos was a leading voice against moving against Golden Dawn, up to September 2013, when the government was pushed into taking action after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas. According to the Wall Street Journal, Baltakos said that a crackdown "would backfire, winning the party sympathy from voters disgusted with the establishment and alienating conservative constituencies such as the army and church."
Last week, he said he has been an "anticommunist" all his life and that the Greek left has "plagued" the country since 1942, the year it took up arms against the occupying Nazis.