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Greek PM should explain his party’s links with fascism

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The conservative government of Antonis Samaras claims to be cracking down on “extremism”. But what skeletons does the Prime Minister hide in his closet?


Video by Ross Domoney, Klara Jaya Brekke and Dimitris Dalakoglou for the City at a Time of Crisis research project. Illustration by Latuff.

The Greek Prime Minister, Mr Samaras, is currently visiting the USA. He arrived here in the immediate aftermath of the arrest of the leadership of Golden Dawn, the notorious Greek neo-Nazi party. But what skeletons does Mr Samaras have in his closet?

Mr Samaras’ speech on October 2 at the Peterson Institute in Washington, DC gives us a first answer to that question. There, the Prime Minister claimed that his government crushes extremism, he talked about the leadership of Golden Dawn which had been, at that time, driven to jail. However, later during the Q&A session he also added that his government was not quite done; that he would also deal with the other extreme, the one that talks of leaving the EU and NATO — directly implying the Left opposition.

His statements pose at least three issues. One, Mr Samaras makes clear that his government had accepted the illegal activity of Golden Dawn so far, or that it did not have the will to deal with it. Two, he admits that the government intervenes in the system of justice which supposedly is independent. Three, he promotes once again his plan to crush the Left opposition which disagrees with his government and which protests in public.

The incident that triggered the arrests of Golden Dawn’s most prominent members was the assassination of the antifascist musician Pavlos Fyssas in Nikaia, Athens. Fyssas was the first Greek to be killed by Golden Dawn since the group launched its violent campaign against migrants and — to a lesser extent — against antifascists in 2009. Less than 24 hours after Mr Samaras’ speech at the Peterson Institute, the majority of the arrested Golden Dawn members were released from detention, awaiting trial. On their way out from the court, they kicked and abused journalists under the eyes of the police.

The simplistic theory of the “two extremes” has been promoted by the Greek nexus of power ever since Mr Samaras came to office. On that very same day on September 16, 2012, two of the country’s largest newspapers (the pro-government To Vima and Kathimerini), published two texts by their key editors with very similar titles, making an identical argument. Even if this is a total coincidence, their argument was a dangerous legitimization of the far-right. In sum, the articles suggest that the emergence of Golden Dawn provides an “opportunity” for the state to eliminate the “two extremes” of Greek politics.

According to the opinion of government officials, the antifascists comprised that hypothetical other “extreme”. So the minister of public order, Mr Dendias, as part of Mr Samaras’ government, attacked those who stand up to racism and fascism. In 2012, a political action called the antifascist motorcades began. These were big groups of people on motorbikes riding around the areas of Athens where most attacks against migrants were occurring, aiming to stop them, since police did little to help the victims. In September 2012, DELTA motorbike police attacked the antifascists, arresting, beating and later torturing them.

Allegedly DELTA and the riot police force (MAT) are the two police units with the closest links to Golden Dawn. On the day following the arrests, MAT attacked those who had gathered at Athens’ courthouse to express their solidarity to the antifascists, arresting even more of them. This series of arrests brought to a temporary halt an action that was aimed at stopping what were, by then, daily racist attacks in those parts of the city. From that time on, the lives of several immigrants — and now one local antifascist — have been claimed by neo-Nazis on the streets of the Athens.

A few months later, in December 2012 and January 2013, some of the most prominent social centers in Athens were evicted by police. These had been the physical and cognitive cornerstones of the city’s antifascist struggle. Additionally, they were located in those parts of the city center where Golden Dawn and other neo-Nazi groups systematically attack migrants. Soon after these evictions, similar raids occurred in such antifascist centers throughout the country.

Since Mr Samaras became Prime Minister the city has been subjected to the police operation “Xenios Zeus”. Since its inauguration in August 2012, the operation has seen the detention of over 80.000 migrants, the vast majority having broken no law according to police press releases. Eventually, most of the innocent migrants have been released with the exception of around 5.000 who were imprisoned, mostly due to lack of documents, in new detention centers built across the debt-ridden country.

Targeting a substantial proportion of the population of Greek cities simply due to their skin color marks the adoption of Golden Dawn’s agenda by Mr Samaras’ government. Golden Dawn claims that migrants are dangerous and Mr Samaras’ New Democracy (ND) has followed this logic, detaining innocent migrants in the thousands. In his pre-election campaign, Mr Samaras claimed that illegal migrants have become “the tyrants of society” and that Greeks subsequently have to “liberate our cities from illegal migrants”, once again repeating the Golden Dawn rhetoric.

Mr Samaras’ party in May 2013 made a gift to Golden Dawn by blocking the anti-racist bill, which would criminalize racism and the denial of the Holocaust. Golden Dawn on the other hand provided aid to Mr Samaras’ government on at least two debatable decisions since June 2012: first, when the government shut down overnight the Public Television, and second when it applied further tax exceptions to the Greek ship-owning companies.

Just one week before Fyssas’ assassination in Nikaia, Babis Papadimitriou, a renowned pro-ND journalist, suggested that we need to discuss a conservative coalition government with the participation of a “more serious” version of Golden Dawn. Simultaneously, prominent ND members, including Vyron Polydoras and Failos Kranidiotis, have expressed their positive feelings toward the neo-Nazis of Golden Dawn. This may come as little surprise to those familiar with Greek politics. By this point in time, the Greek government is at its furthest right position since the fall of the military dictatorship back in 1974. Note, among others, the inclusion of Adonis Georgiadis or Makis Voridis in the current parliamentary team of New Democracy — both are best described as ultra-right.

Clearly, the assassination of Pavlos Fyssas and the charges brought against the Golden Dawn leadership have dramatically altered the political atmosphere in Greece, indefinitely postponing, one would think, such collaboration. Mr Samaras might portray himself as a combatant against the extremism of Golden Dawn. But how, then, can he explain the very strong ideological and practical links between his own party’s rhetoric and policies, and those of the neo-Nazis?

Dimitris Dalakoglou is member of the research team and a member of Occupied London collective.


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Comments (3)

  • Dimitri

    This article is dangerous and misleads the reader of the real issue.

    The real issue is the struggle of the ordinary Greek people against occupation and exploitation of the so called “western world” since the birth of the country.
    By western-world, I mean the part of westerners which is also exploiting its own citizens.

    Fascism is just a tool to achieve the goal every time. This tool is not something that has fallen on to earth today. It has been used frequently in the past.

    The use of left-right theory blurs the scenery by introducing some “abstract bad far-right entity”.
    After this, It creates the dilemma: is the legitimate government a good government or not because, see, they don’t do good against far-right, do they maybe share these ideas etc… Greece deserves a better government, democracy etc.

    According to this article is the government (naturally) legitimate (elected) but it has big problems to compete (migrants).
    The scenery is set and the actors may continue to play. Just count how many times the word “migrants” has been used in this article.

    In this article is systematically avoided any reference to the real issue in Greek politics. The one which explains the resurrection of fascism. The issue is: must Greek people pay yes or no.

    As you well know, Greek people are paying a great deal of money started with the claim of the British back in 1821. Greeks had then to share the debt of the Sultan proportionally because they became independed (freedom is really expensive).
    “Western world” shares the booty amongst them and throws some bones to the gang of Greeks who they have put to protect their interests there (this kind of people has always existed in this country).

    Is this a strange story?
    I don’t think so, “Western world” has a great deal of experience in doing so.

    The unicum in this story is that you try to make us believe it’s different.

    • disorderisti

      Hi Dimitri,

      I don’t agree that this article is trying to solve the “Real issue in Greek politics” as you say but it tries to give an insight about the fascist background of PM Samaras and his party members.
      Stating the second doesn’t mean that the first is not correct.

  • Dimitri

    I am glad you have read my comments very carefully (speechless).
    Watching tv is just not enough to give an insight about the fascist background of PM Samaras and his party members.
    I see no background in this article. For instance you do not mention anything about ND funding GD. Also you do not say anything about the membership of their party leader in ND back in the eighty’s and ninety’s. He grew up as second in command in ONNED (youth organization of ND) next to Meimarakis (today’s respectable senior parliament member, old minister etc.) and member of “Rangers” a violent gang which were attacking communist and democratic youth (students) during putting up posters back in ‘80s and ‘90s. I also miss the collaboration of ND en GD in Agios Panteleimonas where they were capturing illegal migrants and sheltered them in apartments which belong to members of ND and GD piled in rooms of thirty as long als the subsidy of EU was payed. Then they were releasing them while selecting some of them to burgle into houses. You don’t say anything about the drugs, prostitution regulation of GD with police directly under the leadership of politicians of the ND. You forgot to mention why Fyssas had to die and why the Leader of GD shouted “roufiamoi”.
    Also there is nothing in this article about the ND memorials of Grammos-Vitsi of Meligala and the connection of ND and GD in this.
    You could mention the establishing of these death groups from the gemans and the use of them later from the Englisch who occupated Greece between 1944 and 1949 to assassin greek people.
    You didn’t say anything about the fact that English first and Americans after have build a violent and corrupted greek state using these criminals as marionettes.

    I could go on for hours.

    Why didn’t you mention anything to really inform the reader about them.
    I don’t think because you don’t know.

    This is why I call this article is dangerous and misleading the reader of the real issue.

    Good bye


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