Nikos Papageorgiou who passed away the day before yesterday, he was a man of few words, modest man.
He was only talking about his precious work, the hospital of the same name in Thessaloniki and almost nothing for himself.
In one of the rare confessions, had been told to me, excited, the event that sealed his life. It was 14 years, when in Siatista of Kozani the Germans took his father, who was organized in the resistance, for execution: he then started running after the German truck, until his strength left him.
Was it this incident that endowed him with an unusual social sensitivity?; What is certain is that the decade 90, accomplished businessman, ο Ν. Papageorgiou donated, together with his brother Leonidas, 30 million dollars to build the hospital that was missing from western Thessaloniki. An adventure awaited him, typical of the country's woes and its political system, which keeps it underdeveloped: Papageorgiou was initially accused of never giving this money. And when it turned out otherwise. that he laundered money, building a public hospital!
While they were monitoring his phone, he had faced an unprecedented smear campaign, with improbable "ghost citizen's committees" and "students" who paid expensive full-page. daily newspaper entries against him, in harmony with similar statements of politicians. Even a bespoke book had been written to prevent a jewel hospital from operating, which proved to be a lifesaver for the city.
Somehow, the hospital case also played a role in my own journalistic career. Like the state-of-the-art hospital was ready but the Ministry of Health did not allow it to operate, the Papageorgiou family found me and asked me to deal with the case. I then started a big research about Vima, where I worked, after I had agreed with Stavros Psycharis, then director of the newspaper.
When I was delivering the report, a news editor interjected with an orange envelope. “You have these facts in mind;» The dossier contained the propaganda of the business group and the hospital's opponents. We became tangled hair and the issue was delayed to be published. I told Psycharis, "If you don't put it on I will leave, there's no point in journalism if we can't highlight such an important social and political issue". It didn't work and I resigned. (The postscript is that then I had a show every day on ANT1 radio, I told the manager that "I have a nice theme - I want to play it on the station", and he says to me "but you also have this file in mind;». And he took out the same orange envelope)
I eventually published it in Status magazine, with whom I was working. That's where Eleftherotypia took it from. There was a noise, the hospital opened and I started "Reporting Without Borders" on TV. The article about the hospital took up fifteen pages of the magazine. I am posting extensive excerpts below, in memory of this wonderful man, who lived through the tragedy of being a benefactor and generally wanting to help Greece.
ITOPIES ELLHNIKHS TPELLAS:TO APPΩΣTO NOΣOKOMEIO.
Prologue: It is not a luxury hotel complex. It is the largest and most modern hospital in Macedonia.
It is located in Thessaloniki and has 720 beds not in use. At the same time that citizens of the city are dying on the ranches.
It has the best machines in the country. But he lent it to Onassios - to monitor A.Papandreou- which still uses them to keep them from rusting.
Text: Here and above 20 years, candidate prime ministers, MPs, mayors, prefects and all kinds of cunning politicians promised the "people" of the western, degraded areas of Thessaloniki one thing before the elections: that they will build him a hospital so that he does not die on the street, in the traffic jam towards the center of the "capital city".
The people voted again and again, but he did not see a hospital. Even when the project for the hospital was inaugurated in September 93, on the occasion of the Thessaloniki exhibition, no one believed that even one brick more than the foundation stone would go in. Three years later, those who pass by the ring road that crosses the western districts are rubbing their eyes: where once there was an alana, there is now the Papageorgiou hospital, the largest investment made in recent years in Northern Greece.
Casualty carriers and taxi drivers in Thessaloniki, everyone agrees on one point: if the Papageorgiou hospital was operating, many people's lives would have been saved 166 he was transporting a patient with breathing problems and I and a relative of his were following the ambulance by taxi", says Mr. Giorgos Amanatidis, taxi driver. "Until we get to the hospital in the center of town, the sick man had recovered. Access to Papageorgiou is easy and for the residents of the area there is no other solution."
Those who are able to enter the hospital, they have other reasons to rub their eyes. Its reception hall is a huge elegant atrium several tens of meters high lined with red bricks that looks like a luxury hotel reception., while it doesn't resemble a Greek hospital at all...
..Giorgos Papageorgiou is executed by the Germans on his July 1944 and his wife Alexandra lives alone with three children: Nikos 14 years, Leonidas 12 and the four-year-old Lakis. "I don't know exactly why I wanted to donate money to a hospital", says Mr. Nikos Papageorgiou now. "Perhaps because unlike most people, I remember my childhood like a nightmare". Eighty seven years old today, mother Alexandra then takes over the reins of the family and together with her three children begin to sew fur hats which they exchange for oil and wheat in the surrounding villages..
..At the end of his decade 60 the craft evolves into a factory which at that time employs people around 450 workers. The decades 60 and 70 until about the middle of 80 constitute the golden age of fur and, according to the Papageorgiou brothers their two twin companies, the ABEGE(Biochemistry and Fur Trade) and Centropel international occupy one of the first positions in the world in the fur trade.
At the beginning of his decade 80 the 21-year-old George Papageorgiou, son of Leonidas, he is killed in a car accident outside Siatista and since then the Papageorgiou brothers start various donations that bear his name. A high school in Siatista 28 halls and a church in Frankfurt where their business activity continues to be focused.
At the end of the 80s, the Papageorgiou brothers decide to donate money for the construction of a Hospital in Thessaloniki which could be the center of care for the residents of all Macedonia. After his April 1990 and the victory of the ND, Nikos Papageorgiou conveys his thoughts to Kozani MP and former Foreign Minister Michalis Papakonstantinou, whom he has known since the time of the Center Union..
"DEN TO KTIZEIS MONOS SOY NA TO XAPEIS;»..
"We know each other well since the decade 60 when Nikos was an ardent follower of Georgios Papandreou. When he announced his intention to me, I introduced him to (then prime minister) K. Mitsotakis », Mr. Papakonstantinou remembers. "My initial idea was to give the money and nothing else", Mr. Papageorgiou continues the narration. "But after listening to me, Mr. Mitsotakis told me: to enjoy it, you don't even build it;».
Before the agreement between the two sides is completed, Mr. Papageorgiou visits at his beginnings 1991 the then Minister of Finance Mr. Ioannis Paleokrassas. "After we agreed on several secondary issues, we said at some point to get into the most important", says Mr. Papageorgiou.
"Because we are afraid that the government would appoint its own people to the administration with party criteria, who in turn would appoint the rest of the staff in a non-meritorious manner, I said to the minister timidly: "we would like with a transitional provision to keep the administration ta 5 first few years to get things in a groove, and then deliver it to you. Why only 5 years; replied Mr. Palaiokrasas then. Keep it forever.".
Stone of all today's scandal, the relevant regulation therefore provides that the 4 from 7 members of the Board (Board of Directors) are appointed by the Minister of Health but following the suggestion of Papageorgiou. The whole contract is finally signed and voted unanimously by the Parliament in the summer 1991, in the relevant discussion, G. Genimmatas praises the new Hospital and the benefactors, agreeing with Mr.. A. Lentaki, parliamentary representative of the Coalition at the time.
For the most enjoyable viewing of our history, it is worth noting that the then Deputy Minister of Health, Mr. G.Sourlas, reacted strongly to the arrangement which does NOT give the majority of the Board of Directors to the relevant ministry. On the contrary, PASOK warmly applauds it as an opposition..
It takes two years for their studies and approval and the foundation stone is placed in September 1993, shortly before the fall of the Mitsotakis government.
The projects are progressing at a fast pace without exceeding the budget as is usual in public projects, while the belief of Papageorgiou's side that the administration should not be given to the state is strengthened by the adventures of the constant changes of administrations in Onassios as well as by the findings of foreign "wise men", whom the new Minister of Health K.D. Kremastinos invites to Greece to study the nursing system.
Its spring 1995 Mr. N. Papageorgiou notifies the minister that it is time to set up the first Board of Directors, with the aim of starting the recruitments and starting the operation of the outpatient clinics from 1996. In their first meeting, Mr. Kremastinos overstates the issue by telling Papageorgiou : “don't just propose to me 4 individuals. Give me 7 names to appoint them, to have homogeneity"..
TELEPHONE ROBBERS AND GHOST CITIZENS..
But the minister's deputies, others of the party officials. Medical offices, local organizations and governmental actors of Thessaloniki are beginning to react to the idea of losing a powerful weapon of party patronage and from their point of view they are not wrong: " the 500 approximately people who will be appointed to the hospital together with their families bring two more MPs to the party that will appoint them", says a political agent of the city, you have a villa as a gift in Panorama"..
..Mr. Kremastinos is delaying appointing the administration while since the autumn the health problem of the people of Thessalonica takes second place in front of the health problem of Mr. Papandreou and the turmoil that begins in the government camp. Party balances are so delicate, so that they make impossible any decision around such a "delicate" issue. That's when Mr. K. Tsimas comes into play..
Former leader of EYP and MEP, general secretary of the region of Central Macedonia today, Mr. Tsimas will denounce in an interview in February 1996 the Papageorgiou brothers that "they have not put a single barrier in the project" but are simply managing the funds of the European Union and the Greek public... He will adopt these accusations in a debate in the Parliament in the spring of 1996 and the new Minister of Health Mr. Peponis..
After Mr. Tsima's attack, some more noteworthy events will take place in Thessaloniki. The local police station in the area where the hospital is located, notifies Mr. Papageorgiou that his phone lines were tapped at the local KAFAO, without finding the perpetrator so far.
..Shortly after Mr. Tsima's complaints, paid full-page advertisements of the "Citizens' Association of Thessaloniki for the inclusion in the ESY of the Papageorgiou Hospital" of the same content were published in the newspapers "Thessaloniki" and "Macedonia", while a few days later paid advertisements were also published by the student Alexandros Atmatzidis, for the "Super Student Group of the University Hospital of Thessaloniki": readers should withhold the name, as it is amply proved that the country is so prosperous, so that even students have the money to pay the millions(page six please) what newspaper listings cost.
The appearance of the student and the Citizens' Union, in which none of the named citizens of the city participate, consolidated on Papageorgiou's side the belief that behind them is the Medical Center of Mr. Apostolopoulos who recently founded a branch in Thessaloniki with trans-Balkan ambitions. "They seized the opportunity given to them by the problem with the government for the composition of the Board of Directors", says Mr. Papageorgiou.
Free from the publications of Thessaloniki, the well-known TV and other French people are enlisted to prove with TV shows that the Papageorgiou hospital is nothing but a big scandal. "I don't know who has paid, but I know that many of them have received several millions", says a journalist from Thessaloniki who prefers to remain anonymous. "In the press conference he gave us a few days ago, Mr. Apostolopoulos stated that he will not contract with any insurance fund because it is not in his interest, but only with the journalists' fund. And none of the journalists present protested.".
A doctor Atmatzidis who recently filed one of the many lawsuits and lawsuits filed against the hospital for all kinds of violations (from urban planning to even the request to lift the immunity of parliamentarians so that the 300 deputies who sanctioned the vote by law!!) by outraged citizens, he refused to express his views .
Despite the continuous efforts and the messages on the answering machine of the lawyer Mrs. Anastasia Tousidou who appears as a founding member of the "Union of Citizens",Status could not have any communication with her.
According to the statutes of the Union at the Court of First Instance of Thessaloniki, between the 5 founding members are Mrs. Tousidou and three other professionals (two economists and an architect) which are housed in the same building as Mrs. Tousidou. After many attempts we located the fifth founding member somewhere in Denmark where he was traveling and we spoke with him by phone. He is the doctor Mr. D. Karagiannis who lives permanently in Athens, has a private practice in Kolonaki and at the same time works at the Medical Center of Mr. Apostolopoulos..
Mr. Karagiannis, who did not remember as he said if he was a founding member, he denied the information that he was the financial manager of the Citizens' Union and stated that he did not know where the money for the registrations came from, nor if they were finally downloaded. He also added that he took part in the Union because he lived and studied in Thessaloniki and attributed his parallel status ( member of the Citizens' Union and collaborating with the Medical Center) in pure coincidence.
"It is unacceptable to call people who gave so much money for a hospital "so-called benefactors", says MP K.Karamanlis, who submitted a related question to the Parliament. "It is a tragedy to be a benefactor in Greece".
APANTHS TO K. APOSTOLOPOYLOY
In the objections of Mr. Papageorgiou according to which the Medical Center is behind the campaign against the Hospital, the owner Mr. Apostolopoulos made the following statement to Status:
I am sorry because with a firework an attempt is made to cover up the "disgrace of the country's public life". Without pretenses which I personally loathe and without patrons whom I likewise loathe, when the time comes I will initiate legal proceedings to restore legitimacy and law.
The interviewer with you aspires to become my competitor and invokes the status of a religious philanthropist in which capacity he must know that: "the pious do not hold a memorial service with foreign huts". If he wants to be a legitimate and legitimate competitor to me, let him disburse from clear sources "clean money" and the field of competition is free.-