The presence of Eleni Zarulia, a member of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi party (18 seats) as Greek representative at the Council of Europe has provoked a storm of criticism over the ambiguous position of the Government of Athens. European anti-racist groups have criticized the executive for failing to veto the participation of Zarulia, who once described immigrants as “subhuman”.
Zarulia, wife of the leader of the ultra, Nikos Mijaloliakos, spoke last year about the qualities “subhuman” immigrants, of which she said “have invaded the homeland”, to then “fill it with diseases.”
Several lawmakers showed opposition Zarulia’s presence in the European body, as well as that of Hungarian Tamas Gaudi Nagy, from antisemitic party Jobbik. They raised the possibility of expelling party delegates who were “racist and anti-Semitic”, in allusion to both.
The Italian Christian Democrat Fiamma Nirenstein recalled Monday that the values of these formations, and the opinions of both-are inconsistent with the Council, but the Procedures Committee finally approved their credentials on Tuesday, stressing that its acceptance “should not be interpreted as an expression of support or recognition for their actions, ideals or political positions, which are different from those supported by the Parliamentary Assembly in its 63 years of existence. “
Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe – no relation to the European Union – the European States have 47 members and is responsible for issues such as legal standards, human rights, democratic development and cultural cooperation.
But the incongruity splashes especially the Greek executive, whose main party, the conservative New Democracy (ND), had pledged in December to its coalition partners to exclude Zarulia as Greek delegate. In a statement released Wednesday, the European anti-racist organization EGAM described the decision by the Greek government as “indefensible” and a double game of the prime minister, the conservative Andonis Samaras, for allowing the presence of neo-Nazis in the Assembly.
After his initial commitment, Samaras changed his mind and, in a motion filed by the other two members of the government, the socialist PASOK and the moderate left Dimar, Samaras’s party abstained, allowing Zarulia, along with delegates from other Greek formations represented in parliament to be part of the pan-European body.
Samaras’ abstention may have to do with the the support of PASOK and SYRIZA. ND and SYRIZA are locked in a political brawl that worsens by the second, following acts of violence that have dotted the country in recent weeks: homemade bombs against five journalists and the brother of a government’s spokesman, an attack with Kalashnikov against ND headquarters and the explosion of a handmade explosive device on Sunday at Mall of Maroussi (Athens), the largest mall in the country. ND accuses SYRIZA of not condemning the violence sufficiently and Samaras of distracting from the crisis, which enters its sixth year.
The last chapter of this bitter and open warfare is a video in which a Syriza deputy presumably calls the Greeks to take arms. The video was aired on Wednesday by New Democracy, and in it, viewers can see Vangelis Diamantópulos suggesting that citizens should arm themselves in response to the crisis. ND accused SYRIZA of taking phrases out of context.