The major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party has removed one of its representative from the Parliament’s Human Rights Committee after he said the Greek island of Imia belongs to Turkey and that Greece should cede its territorial rights within the international 12-mile limit.
Nassos Theodoris was summarily ejected from the committee, although not from the party, after he called Imia by its Turkish name of Kardak and said Greek fighter jets should not challenge Turkish jets that violate Greek air space. Greece and Turkey nearly went to war over the rights to the island in 1996.
“The personal views of Nassos Theodoridis are far from those of SYRIZA. By no means do they represent [the party’s official line], press spokesman Panos Skourletis tweeted on Feb. 7, the newspaper Kathimerini reported. It was seen as a warning to other SYRIZA officials that have in the past distanced themselves from the official line of the country’s main opposition party, a loose collection of Communits, Far Leftists, Maoists and Trotskyites.
In a message posted on Facebook ahead of the anniversary of the Imia crisis, in which three Greek navy officers died, Theodoridis questioned Greece’s sovereignty over the island. The whole idea of national sovereign rights, Theodoridis said, is an invention of official state propaganda “to extract the consent of the oppressed masses.”
The New Democracy Conservatives, the leader of the country’s coalition government, slammed Theodoridis’s “anti-Greek delirium” and urged SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to dismiss him from the party. “Otherwise,” a statement said, “(Tsipras) will merely confirm that these are also his own positions and those of his party.”
In late January 1996 the US intervened to stop Greek and Turkish warships from clashing over the two uninhabited islands, known in Greece as Imia and in Turkey as Kardak, in the eastern Aegean. Three Greek navy officers died when their helicopter crashed during a reconnaissance mission in the area.