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Greece’s Space Oddity: HSA Chief resigns pointing at meritocracy, lack of transparency

Dr. Stamatis Krimizis, the renowned Greek astrophysicist, has resigned from his post as President of the Hellenic Space Agensy (HSA) a month after his appointment. In his resignation letter, Krimizis cited the eternal Greek plagues: bureaucracy, meritocracy and a series of politically-motivated obstacles that would make the agency into “subservient to any political chief.” The resigned HSA chief said among other that he does not have the intention to be “anyone’s mouthpiece.”

In a 3-page letter dated April 16th, Krimizis outlined the reasons for his resignation and accused the minister in charge of the agency, Nikos Pappas, of  “ministerial decisions that practically annulled the entire purpose of HSA and attempted to manipulate the agency towards predetermined directions.”

He spoke of the promotion of actions  without evaluation, without meritocracy, away from international standards, serving personal agendas and under the full control of the General Secretariat.”

Calling the General Secretary of Telecommunications, Vaggelis Manglaras, a “space czar,” Krimizis accusing him of “seeking to undermine the agency chief’s authority from the very beginning with the minister’s tolerance, even though he has no knowledge or experience in this field.”

“The most unpleasant surprise,” he added, was that with a ministerial decision, the HSA was excluded from the evaluation and management of funding allocation allocation from the Space Programs of the European Space Agency, approximately 16 million euros. “This responsibility was assigned to selected administrative staff,” Krimizis noted.

Although he did not clearly speak of “corruption,” the resigned chief of HSA concluded his letter noting that he was “however, not aware of any criminal offense nor is it my role to investigate it. I remember, however, that in the United States, when investigating the Watergate scandal, the popular expression was ‘follow the money’ … “

Ministry reaction

Minister for Digital Policy, Information and Telecommunications, Nikos Pappas, thanked Stamatis Krimizis for his “short presence” in the newly established Hellenic Space Agency and could not help but pouring pure irony in his relevant tweet:

“>”It is surprising, of course, that the speed with which he managed within four weeks to evaluate and irrevocably judge the country’s effort to design and implement a coordinated national strategy in the field of space.”

The General Secretariat leaked its own criticism to the press saying “the HSA has not managed to properly operate so far and has not register a number at the tax authorities.”

Thursday morning, Nikos Pappas, attacked “willing newspapers headlines reproducing nasty innuendos” and stressed that the HSA has not managed not even one eurofrom public money.”

Former Education Minister and high-ranking SYRIZA official, Nikos Filis, told Skai TV this morning, he is seriously considering Krimizis’ accusations about lack of transparency and he is awaiting “the official position by the ministry in written form.”

Who is Krimizis

79-year-old Stamatis Krimizis is a Greek-American scientist in space exploration. He has contributed to many of the United States’ unmanned space exploration programs of the Solar System and beyond. He has contributed to exploration missions to almost every planet of the Solar System. In 1999, the International Astronomical Union named the asteroid 8323 Krimigis (previously 1979 UH) in his honor.

He is Head Emeritus of the Space Department Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University Laurel, Maryland, United States and he is a member of Academy of Athens, Greece, where he has the Chair of Science of Space. He is also the President of the Greek National Council for Research and Technology.

He was born on the island of Chios and has been in the US since the early 1960’s.

New HSA President

The Ministry announced Christodoulos Protopappas, former president of European Space Agency Associations.

The new president criticized Krimizis for “enforcing the use of English language in the HSA” and of “arrogant attitude towards Greek research institutes.” Furthermore, Protopappas raised objections about the Krimizis’ scientific profile saying “he is an astrophysicist, the HSA is an issue for engineers.” the new president is electrical engineer.

PS I would agree with Filis that the Ministry has to take clear and official position to the ex chief’s accusations, in an official form, point by point, argument against argument, so to say. Being smart on Twitter or retweeting witty remarks is not for SYRIZA ministers who want to claim the “moral advantage” towards previous corrupt governments.

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  1. Things work differently in the USA, this is a fact. So, it could have been that this Greek-American scientist person saw the chaos and thought, “I’m outta here”. Or possibly, he was a bit snobby thinking, who are these little people working with me??. It’s hard to know who is correct, and to be fair, depending on your partisan view, you will decide. A fair person will evaluate both sides and then decide, and not let anti-Americanism or Anti-Greekism jade their ruling.

  2. Or it could simply be the case that every last corner of the greek government is stinking with corruption and this fellow was one of the few who would have no part in it.
    Why we need a space agency escapes me, we have more pressing issues to resolve (high on that list is the aforementioned corruption) and the people have been bled enough already.