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Greeks demand transparency

Greeks demand transparency
Thursday, February 7, 2008

ATHENS - Agence France Presse

Prominent Greek artists protested at the Culture Ministry Tuesday to
demand more transparency in arts funding after the attempted suicide
of a top official prompted a probe into the allocation of millions of
euros.

   "The manner in which politicians have handled [culture] funds for
years is a disgrace," composer Stamatis Kraounakis told reporters
outside the ministry where dozens of artists staged a silent street
protest titled "Angry Art."

Media reports have revealed that the culture ministry in 2006-2007
handed millions of euros from national and European Union funds to
local councils, private foundations and churches.

A prosecutor last week called for a probe into the possible abuse of
EU fund allocation powers under ministry general secretary Christos
Zachopoulos, who tried to kill himself in December when a DVD believed
to contain extra-marital sex footage reached the government.

"The ministry is going through a crisis but we can emerge stronger,"
said Culture Minister Michalis Liapis after meeting the artists.

The incident has severely embarrassed the government as Zachopoulos,
who may be called to testify when his health recovers, is an old
friend of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' wife.

Casting a spotlight on political nepotism that has pervaded the
Greek civil service for decades, the case is also personally damaging
to Karamanlis who came to power four years ago with promises to combat
graft.

"This is a troublesome situation at a time when Greek theaters are
being forced to shut down for lack of money," said singer Dionysis
Tsaknis.

 

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