Greece’s major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras – while denying that his party has fomented violence and egged on anarchists against the government – refused to comment on the release from custody of three members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party pending a trial on an array of charges but said the group was a “criminal organization.”
The government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader and his partner, PASOK Socialist chief Evangelos Venizelos are trying to prove that in an attempt to break up the party it claims has been on a rampage of violence since being elected in June 2012, including leading beatings and assaults on immigrants, Communists, leftists, gays and other targets.
Six of the party’s 18 Members of Parliament, including party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and second-in-command Christos Pappas, were arrested in a sweep that rounded up 32 members, but three of four MP’s, including spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, were released on Oct. 2 although they will have to return for a trial on charges including murder, money laundering and extortion. Michaloliakos on Oct. 3 was kept jailed.
Speaking to media during a press conference held at the European Parliament in Brussels on Oct. 2, Tsipras wouldn’t talk about the cases or the court proceedings although he has been outspoken against the group. He added that several SYRIZA members and supporters had been victims of attacks by the extremists but that he trusted the country’s judicial system to act independently in the case against Golden Dawn.
Making comparisons between the current situation in Greece and the Weimar Republic, Tsipras noted that the root causes in the rise of fascism in both cases was a “barbaric economic policy,” a reference to the crushing austerity measures being imposed by Samaras on the orders of international lenders putting up $325 billion in two bailouts.
While renewing his plea for a “moratorium” with regard to the repayment of Greece’s debt, Tsipras also called for a European summit focusing on the country’s debt as well as the need for more investment through the aid of the European Investment Bank.
While not ruling out the possibility of a general election before the completion of the coalition government’s four-year mandate during Greece’s six-month European Union presidency which begins in January, 2014, Tsipras noted that the upcoming European Parliament elections would send out a “strong message for a change of policy in Europe.”