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Greece: “I Signed the IMF Memorandum Without Having Read It”

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

Shock and awe awaited Greek citizens on Monday January 23, 2012, when Louka Katseli, former minister of labour and social security (2010) and minister of economy, competitiveness and shipping (2009), revealed that she had had only three hours to read the IMF memorandum tackling the country's debt crisis.

Michalis Chrysochoidis, current minister for development, competitiveness and shipping and former minister of citizen protection, admitted on a morning television show interview [el] that he signed the IMF memorandum without having read it at all, arguing that “simply, he had other obligations during that time, as he was fighting against crime”:

Minister Manolis Chrysochoidis. Photo by Flickr user Piazza del Popolo (CC BY 2.0).

Minister Manolis Chrysochoidis. Photo by Flickr user Piazza del Popolo (CC BY 2.0).

News spread quickly on the web reacting to the remarks, including extremely negative comments and derogatory insults from netizens, expressing their disdain for the political system, and mocking the minister's excuse.

Within one to two hours, the case became a world trending topic via the Twitter hashtag #de_diavasa_to_mnimonio_giati (I didn't read the memorandum because…):

@northaura: Now whole twitter “parties” with the “I didn't read the Memorandum” statement of Min. Crysochoidis, in hashtag #De_diavasa_to_mnimonio_giati

Global Voices Author and Editor Asteris Masouras (@asteris) made a Storify collection of various posts, photos and tweets. Below listed are some samples of Greek netizens’ tweets and comments:

@agamemnon_st: Αφού δεν ήταν δουλειά σου να μελετάς το μνημόνιο και τους νόμους, γιατί ήσουν βουλευτής;

@agamemnon_st: Since it wasn't your job to study the memorandum and the laws, why were you a member of the Parliament?

George Kallis: den exeis tsipa epanw soy na valeis thylia sto laimo soy !!!! exete katastrepsi olh thn ellada me tis ypografesas

George Kallis: You are shameless, you should put a noose around your neck!!!! you have destroyed all Greece with your signatures
'The Dark Knight returns to fight crime on Athens' mean streets'. Image mocking Minister Chrysochoidis' statement. Photo via Twitpic by @Teacherdude.

'The Dark Knight returns to fight crime on Athens' mean streets'. Image mocking Minister Chrysochoidis' statement. Photo via Twitpic by @Teacherdude.

@ngeor: #De_diavasa_to_mnimonio_giati I was elected to lead, not to read.

@Ovelikios: Δεν έχω διαβάσει το μνημόνιο αλλά έχω δει την ταινία

@Ovelikios: I haven't read the memorandum but I have seen the movie

@natachef#de_diavasa_to_mnimonio_giati δεν άνοιγε το attachment.

@natachef#de_diavasa_to_mnimonio_giati [I didn't read the memorandum because] mail attachment wouldn't open.

@Stathisgr: Mnimonio? LoL, Too busy beating protesters

@mpampaki: “Είχα να αντιμετωπίσω το έγκλημα. Ο Ρόμπιν είχε πυρετό κι ο Τζόκερ είχε απαγάγει το γιο του Επιθεωτητη Γκόρντον.”

@mpampaki: “I had to fight against crime. Robin was down with fever and [the] Joker had kidnapped the son of Commissioner Gordon”.

@nchrysoloras#De_diavasa_to_mnimonio_giati μόνο ο Τσακ Νόρις έχει διαβάσει το Μνημόνιο

@nchrysoloras#De_diavasa_to_mnimonio_giati [I didn't read the memorandum because] only Chuck Norris has read the Memorandum
Twitter user @mirsiniloizou posted: "and here, the photo of #didn't_read_memorandum_because". Photo shows "protagonists of the day" Ms. Katseli and Mr. Chrysochoidis.

Twitter user @mirsiniloizou posted: "and here, the photo of #didn't_read_memorandum_because". Photo shows "protagonists of the day" Ms. Katseli and Mr. Chrysochoidis.

After the intense criticism, Chrysochoidis published the following Facebook status update (original text in Greek here):

I want to clarify and confirm my point. Yes, I repeat that I didn't read the memorandum. I didn't deal with either the text or the procedures of “supposedly” negotiations. This wasn't declared with pride. Even more, I don;t say this in order to shirk responsibilities. On the contrary. I consider this as one of the biggest errors of my political career; because I appreciated wrongly those critical moments and I was preoccupied with the minor issue, my work as a minister, instead of the major one, my responsibility as a member of the country's leadership. I said that to stress how much everyone has to change. We used to trust every leader, every prime minister; to vote in the Parliament and to agree in the government. Those times belong to the past and this model faded. What is needed is collectivity, personal responsibility and contribution. [...]

During last year, the government and members of parliament have been the target of heavy criticism for their acceptance of the IMF memorandum and their inaction against the socio-economic crisis of the country, which has urged many of them to defend their beliefs and political actions.

Another “disclaimer statement” was made on October 2011 by former PASOK MP Thomas Rompopoulos, who argued [el] during a radio show broadcast: “Nobody had the time to read the Memorandum, neither I did nor anybody did; We authorized [Minister for Economy at the time] Papakonstantinou to sign for it. It was a matter of trust”:

In addition to the bold accusations Minister Chrysochoidis himself received, many netizens via social media have also criticized the general political scene, but also the “blindness” of they themselves, who have been conniving with the politicians’ foul actions:

Panagiotis Giannoudis: Ζήτω η Βουλή των Ελλήνων!

Panagiotis Giannoudis: Hooray to the Greek Parliament!

@helena_chari: greece doesn't need weapons of mass destruction; it's got its politicians

dangler69: Τελικά το διάβασε και κανένας; Ίσως εκείνοι που διαγράφηκαν.

dangler69: Finally, did anyone at least read it? Maybe those who were removed from the Parliament.

@Dr_Troy: #De_diavasa_to_mnimonio_giati ” και που με περιγελούν τώρα, αρκετοί απ’ αυτούς θα με ξαναψηφίσουν. Ξεχνάνε γρήγορα, βλέπεις…

@Dr_Troy: #De_diavasa_to_mnimonio_giati [I didn't read the memorandum because] even if they mock me now, many of them will vote for me again. They forget quickly, you see… #bitter_truth

@cpil: Ενώ όλοι εσείς, το διαβάσατε το μνημόνιο.

@cpil: Have you read the memorandum yourselves?

@MilitaryRaiden: Όλοι πέφτουμε από τα σύννεφα με ομολογία ανικανότητος Χρυσοχοΐδη αλλά όχι με τη διατήρηση δικαιώματος ψήφου των ηλιθίων που το εξέλεξαν.

@MilitaryRaiden: Everybody is surprised by Chrysochoidis’ confession of impotence, but not by the fact that the stupid ones that elected him still hold their voting rights.

@tgeorgakopoulos: Σσσσ, ακούς; Κάνε ησυχία -ακούς; Είναι ο ήχος 299 εκτυπωτών σε γραφεία βουλευτών. Τυπώνουν το μνημόνιο.

@tgeorgakopoulos: Sssshh, listen! Silence, can you hear that? It's the sound of 299 printers at MPs’ offices. They are printing the memorandum.

@sVathis: Οι έλληνες ανέκαθεν δεν διάβαζαν user manuals

@sVathis: Greeks never read user manuals

Finally, during the following day, user Arkoudos concludes bitterly, reflecting the saddest part of Greek economical and social crisis [el]:

@arkoudos: Δεν σας πληρωσα το χαρατσι της ΔΕΗ;Αχχ χιλια συγνωμη,*δεν το ειχα διαβασει*,ειχα παει να ικετευσω για δουλεια,για να εχουμε να φαμε το βραδυ

@arkoudos: Didn't I pay you for the extra tax of DEI (Public Power Corporation of Greece)? Ohhh, so sorry, *hadn't read it*, I had gone to beg for a job, to have some food to eat at dinner

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

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