The wife of Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn leader has been allowed to join the Council of Europe, a human rights organization, despite her denunciation of immigrants as “subhuman” and as the party is being blamed for rising incidents of assaults on immigrants.
Over strong opposition, Eleni Zaroulia, was given the go-ahead to participate in the council’s proceedings in Strasbourg, France. Greece’s PASOK and Democratic Left parties, as well as several rights groups had expressed objections to the membership of Zaroulia, wife of Golden Dawn chief Nikos Michaloliakos.
The Council stated that her objection to immigrants does not imply it agrees with her stance even though the body is charged with a broad human rights charter. The committee also OK’d the participation of Tamas Gaudi from Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party.
The parliamentary assembly of the council had considered a ban on the two if they were found to be affiliated with parties that are “neo-Nazi, racist and anti-Semitic,” euractiv.com reported. Although critics say they are, the Council set aside the protests.
The challenge was introduced on procedural grounds by Italian MP Fiamma Nirenstein, who said that the values of these parties were in conflict with the Council of Europe’s ideals and principles. Both challenges were supported by at least 10 members of the assembly present in the chamber, belonging to at least five different national delegations.
“Ms. Zaroulia has said in her country’s Parliament that the immigrants were sub-humans who invaded her homeland and spread diseases,” Nirenstein was quoted as saying. “Mr. Gaudi Nagy has told his Parliament that there was a list of Jews representing a threat to national security, and who were exploiting the Holocaust to dominate the world.”
In a letter addressed to Greek Parliamentary Speaker Evangelos Meimarakis, two PASOK MP’s and one from the Democratic Left said that Zaroulia’s participation on the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, “has generated a barrage of strong reactions from European politicians and intellectuals, as well as from human rights organizations that deem Golden Dawn an overtly racist and neo-Nazi organization.”
The letter went on to say the participation of a “political party/organization that violates with its actions and with acts of violence the rights of local and foreign residents of this country” is “contradictory and tragically ironic.”
The legal challenge, meanwhile, was opposed by Jean-Claude Mignon of France’s conservative European People’s Party (EPP,) one of the most dominant in the European Parliament, who said that the pair had been elected following what has been considered democratic elections. “It is not the job of the Assembly to tell the Hungarians or the Greeks ‘You voted correctly,’ or ‘You didn’t vote correctly,” he was quoted as saying.