ISI AND IAOS LETTER OF SUPPORT FOR ANDREAS GEORGIOU

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August 2021

The International Statistical Institute and the International Association for Official Statistics continue to be very concerned at the legal action being taken against the former head of the Greek Statistics Office (ELSTAT).

We understand that the decision of the Greek civil court against him for alleged slander is due to be reviewed by the Greek Supreme Court in the near future.

The ISI and IAOS have followed Mr Georgiou’s various cases with growing concern, as this has now stretched over ten years.

The slander charges specifically relate to a public statement Georgiou made in his official role as President of ELSTAT while fulfilling his responsibility to defend the official deficit and debt statistics for Greece produced under his leadership. These statistics have been fully validated by Eurostat — the statistical office of the EU. The UN’s Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics and the European Statistics Code of Practice give statistical offices the right to comment publicly on criticisms and misuse of statistics.

Paragraph 20 of the Preamble to EU Regulation 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, the Statistical Law of the EU, states that the national statistical authorities of the EU should enjoy professional independence and ensure impartiality and high quality in the production of European statistics in accordance with the principles in the European Statistics Code of Practice (endorsed by the Commission in its Recommendation of 25 May 2005 on the independence, integrity and accountability of the national and Community statistical authorities).  We cannot but express our utter surprise and indignation that Georgiou is now called upon by the plaintiff in the slander case, to immediately pay damages and make a public apology for defending the revision of the misreported statistics produced during the plaintiff’s tenure (2006-2010) as director of the national accounts division of the Greek statistics office. And this even as the case is being reviewed by the Greek Supreme Court.

We restate our grave concern that these continued prosecutions have damaged the scientific integrity of highly regarded work addressing Greece’s highly problematic fiscal statistical reporting from the 2000s, which was according to many, including the European Parliament, a major contributing factor to the Greek debt crisis. This is not just a civil case between two private individuals; it is a case fundamental to official statistics production, scientific freedom, scientific responsibility and democratic and human rights. It has implications for the international statistical system, and the rights of government statisticians to defend their statistics in an open and transparent manner as allowed under the UN Principles and the European Code. Undoubtedly the implications are not confined to the statistical sphere, but extend to economic prosperity, democracy and human rights.

We demand an end to the now 10-year persecution of Andreas Georgiou and his full exoneration, in consequence of the UN Fundamental Principles of Statistics and the EU Statistical Law (223/20090), thereby signalling Greece’s commitment to accurate and ethical government statistics.

Stephen Penneck                              
President                                         
International Statistical Institute     

Misha Belkindas
President
International Association for Official Statistics


(Also see our previous Statements and Letters concerning this issue.)