The latest political mêlée between the ruling party and the main opposition in Greece revolves around the same city, Paris, with rival New Democracy (ND) party charging that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras used the a state-owned corporate jet to take a junket to the French capital last week.
Conversely, the leftist government on Monday called on ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to provide answers over his wealth and assets statements, following a front-page article in a pro-government weekly a day earlier. The left-leaning periodical, "Documento", claimed that Mitsotakis wife is the owner of an upscale apartment in Paris, which was not listed on the politician's obligatory statements.
The charges against Tsipras, nevertheless, dominated the media's scrutiny on Monday, following a "back-and-forth" exchange between the government and ND. The two rival parties verbally jousted over previous weekend visit to Paris by Tsipras, after a mini summit in Lisbon for southern European leaders.
Speaking during an urgently held urgently held press conference, ND spokesman Vassilis Kikilias demanded the leftist government answer whether there was any contract between the Greek state with the Rothschild financial advisory group as of Jan. 30, 2017.
Over the weekend, a "non paper" circulated by the Maximos Mansion, the Greek premier's office, said Tsipras arrived in Paris on Sunday, Jan. 29, for a meeting with Rothschild officials to discuss Greece's return to international markets for its borrowing needs. Additionally, a meeting with L'Oréal executives was cited, with the former multinational described as eyeing a major investment in the capital-starved country.
"Why did Mr. Tsipras choose to meet, alone, on Sunday afternoon, with Rothschild, without the (Greek) finance minister, the president of the Public Debt Management Agency, or another of his economic aides? Was (Greek FinMin) Euclid Tsakalotos briefed over this meeting or not? Did Panos Kammenos (the Greek Defense Minister) know that Mr. Tsipras was to travel to Paris with the official aircraft to meet with Rothschild (officials)?"
Kikilias' reference to Kammenos is directly related to high-pitched criticism by the former against the specific financier family's international role.
Kammenos is the head of a small rightist-populist party that is the junior coalition partners of the current SYRIZA-dominated government.
"Does Mr. Kammenos continue to maintain his views over the Rothschild (group), which he has expressed over the years?" Kikilias, a former ND minister, asked rhetorically, while demanding a list of the passengers on the flight that took Tsipras to Paris from Lisbon on the specific weekend.
"The time when they fooled citizens without any cost is over. The silence or evasions is a confession of guilt. For us it's a major political issue," Kikilias told reporters.
The furor began on Saturday, when outspoken ND MP and vice-president Adonis Georgiadis charged that Tsipras took a short holiday over the specific weekend, using the state executive jet as his own personal transportation. The government, unofficially, responded with by saying the allegations were " unethical and false". The Maximos Mansion added that government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos and general secretary Michalis Kalogirou were on the plane.
What emerged over the recent weekend and on Monday was dubbed "disneyland_gate" on social media -- a thinly veiled reference to Euro Disney, outside the French capital -- after ND charged that Tsipras went to Paris for a brief holiday with his family, paid for by the Greek state.
Monday, Jan. 30, was a school holiday in Greece.
In terms of the counter-charges leveled at the Mitsotakis family, the government spokesman, Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, said the ND leader cannot "escape" from the new revelations.
"He must provide answers over his wealth and asset statements and over the purchase of the property," was a Tweet by Tzanakopoulos.