Speaking personally, I would like to point out the following: PASOK requested the formation of a new examining committee on the Vatopedi issue after some peculiar, internal deliberations, which were caused by a group of house representatives. No one in the press asked why! The New Democratic party (ND) was right when it initially declared that it would not support this new move unless new evidence was provided. After being pressurized, the ND changed its stance and agreed on the formation of the committee without explaining the reason, on the condition that all the examining boards should not sit at the same time in order to prevent public opinion and house representatives from being exclusively preoccupied with the issue. Again no one in the press asked why. It is now obvious that behind the revival of this issue some people with great interests are hiding. Whoever had the opportunity to read the doctoral thesis of Nikolaos Kinigopoulos: “Agios Nikolaos, the Metohi of Vatopedi in Porto Lagos”, accredited by the School of Theology of the Thessaloniki University in 1997, knows that Vatopedi is right in its stance regarding the Vistonida pond and that the government is wrong. This was repeatedly ruled by the state’s Legal Council, some members of which are now under scrutiny, and it was also the opinion of professor Michalis Stathopoulos, who was former rector at the University of Athens and Minister of Justice in the Semitis government. Mr Stathopoulos, after he had read the evidence submitted to him by Ntinos Rovlias, house representative in the PASOK government, and Socratis Xenides, secretary in PASOK and former advocate in Xanthi, concluded that the land exchange agreements between Vatopedi and the state were lacking in validity, but also admitted that the monastery has rights of possession and exploitation in the Vistonida pond! Even if one admits that the monastery did not own outright but only had rights of procession and exploitation of the Bistonida pond, and therefore, the exchange agreements were void, this does not mean that the monastery had misappropriated state property. If the revenues from the possession and the exploitation of the pond, which for many years the state had deprived of Vatopedi, were equal or of greater value than the value of the plots of land with which they were exchanged, then there is indeed a scandal. However, it is a scandal in which the state had stolen property, which belongs to Orthodoxy and Hellenism in general, even though it is administered by Batopedi. This is an issue which, funnily enough, neither the honorable professor nor the press has ever examined. That is, “the thief is trying to scare the owner”! Batopedi, like every administrator of any property, has a duty towards the rightful owner, ie. Orthodoxy and Hellenism, to protect it by all means, even by seeking recourse to the European Court of Justice. It would constitute a breach of its duty of care to cede it to anyone else. It must also be pointed out that as it is mentioned in the press, the purpose of this campaign is to expose the “illegal deeds” by Vatopedi and not to dishonor Agio Oros or the Church. However, the end result of this orchestrated campaign against Batopedi is to defame Ayio Oros and the Church. Even if all those people who took part in this campaign did not seek this result, they either did not foresee it, or have accepted it, or did nothing to prevent it. In other words, their indirect fraud is given. And one last remark: If by ourselves we are defaming our old institutions, are we seriously expecting our own citizens to trust the state and pay their taxes, or the foreigners and foreign markets to put their trust in us and lend us money with good terms?
Spyros B. Bazinas,