Group leaders condemn closure of ERT

The leaders of parliament’s S&D, Greens/EFA and ALDE groups have condemned the decision by Greek prime minister Antonis Samara’s to close the nation’s state owned broadcaster ERT.

The decision, which resulted in the loss of 2500 jobs, led to strikes in the already troubled member state and has received widespread criticism across the EU.

S&D group president Hannes Swoboda said, “A diverse and pluralist media landscape is essential to European democracy.

“The decision in Greece to shut down the public broadcaster goes against this principle and as such can only be condemned.

“High-quality media services such as those provided by public television and radio must be guaranteed to ensure a viable democracy.

“The Greek government must take action to restore a properly functioning independent public broadcasting service in Greece.”

Greens/EFA co-president Daniel Cohn-Bendit said, “The disturbing and heavy-handed closure of Greece’s public broadcaster raises major democratic concerns.

“Public broadcasting plays a fundamental part of a healthy media system and is essential to media freedom, which is a core European value.

“While reforms are needed, it is abundantly clear that the fiscal consolidation programme is seriously flawed, and this latest move has reinforced this.

“The European commission and troika must urgently redesign the programme, in dialogue with the Greek government, social partners, civil society, regional government and Greek parliament. Greece needs a fair and balanced plan to exit the crisis.”

Meanwhile, his colleague Rebecca Harms added, “The Greek government’s decision to send police to shut down Greece’s public broadcaster raises fresh fears about the irresponsible crisis response.

“If there was a serious intention to reform the broadcaster, the government could have committed to a joint project with employees, civil society and institutions, through a democratic process.

“In this way, ERT could be reformed and play an important rule in Greece’s media landscape, providing objective analysis of the crisis, among other things.”

ALDE president Guy Verhofstadt also voiced his opinion, saying, “The European commission has clearly stated that they had no part in the closing of ERT.

“Then it can only be that Mr Samaras is blaming the European Union for his government’s decision to close down ERT.

“The Samaras government has so far not made any of the structural reforms necessary to break out of the clientelist system that has been plaguing Greece for too long.

“Instead of blaming the commission for reforms it has not asked for, Samaras should concentrate on making the reforms Greece really does need”.

However, ALDE MEP Theodoros Skylakakis defended the decision, saying, “ERT was not fulfilling its purpose for some time already, it was operating at an immense cost and with a clientelist hiring policy, including those of the current government.

“The necessary re-launch of the public broadcaster in Greece is undermined by decisions which are contrary to the parliamentary procedures and also by party and clientelist practices that this government pursues, in the whole of the public sector.

He added, “We need reform but based on sincere motives and democratic principles”.


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