Leftist SYRIZA ties Greek Church to Golden Dawn in FYROM name fight

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Leftist SYRIZA ties Greek Church to Golden Dawn in FYROM name fightPolitical stability and social cohesion in Greece are very important for the recovery of the crisis stricken economy as well as the strengthening of the tourist industry

ATHENS – Greece’s ruling Radical Left SYRIZA suggested the Greek Church has unwittingly allied itself with the ultra-extremist Golden Dawn in rejecting the use of the word Macedonia for any new composite name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

After the Holy Synod said it would oppose the use of Macedonia’s name, unnamed government officials tried to tie the Church to Golden Dawn, all of whose 16 lawmakers and dozens of members are on charges of running a criminal gang, including using neo-Nazi methodology and attack its perceived enemies.

After the Church said it would not “back down,” unnamed government officials told the newspaper Kathimerini, “Has the Church’s leadership decided to align with the neo-Nazi entity of Golden Dawn?”

They also accused the government of going beyond the bounds of its authority by involving itself in state and serious foreign policy matters and warned the Church, “Desn’t want the state to get involved it its own holy matters.”

That was in apparent reference to Tsipras before being elected said he would seek separation of Church and State although he has backed down, including letting the Church set the curricula for religion classes in schools and barring any other religion except for Greek Orthodoxy.

Adding to the fray, the Greek Church joined opponents of the government allowing FYROM to keep using the word Macedonia – the name of an abutting Greek province – in any new composite name agreed by the two countries.

SYRIZA, which, unlike previous governments which blocked FYROM’s hopes to get into NATO or the European Union, is anti-nationalist, reportedly is closing on in a deal that would let a new name keep Macedonia, with a geographical qualifier such as Upper or Northern, or even New Macedonia.

That’s anathema to Greek nationalists, including the ultra-right extremists Golden Dawn already so furious they’ve denounced Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his coalition partner, the pro-austerity, marginal, previously jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) as traitors and turncoats.

The unidentified sources also said the Church should have asked for a briefing before making any decision and informed the Prime Minister before saying anything or making any decisions, saying the Church should “inform us what name it wants the government to negotiate for,” although the government hasn’t revealed any names either.

Archbishop Ieronymos said that the Church has a right to take a stance in a matter he said isn’t just political and national but ecclesiastical. The Holy Synod noted that FYROM has a self-declared Church of Macedonia.

The Holy Synod said the Church has “fought since antiquity for the Greekness of Macedonia with the the blood of its clergy and its words” and called on the government to heed its concerns, “which are the concerns of Ecumenical Hellenism.”

But Ieronymos said the Church will not take part in any prospective protests with reports government opponents in Thessaloniki, a city that FYROM covets, are ready to take to the streets to denounce giving away the name Macedonia, as a previous government did 25 years ago in agreeing to the name FYROM until a permanent name could be decided.

The major rival New Democracy’s Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Giorgos Koumoutsakos demanded the government withdraw its allegations about the Church being linked to Golden Dawn, attributing it to Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.

“Mr Kotzias committed an enormous blunder and must remedy it immediately,” Koumoutsakos said, Kathimerini reported.

“We listen closely to and respect the Church of Greece’s opinions on the FYROM name talks, as it has good reason to be particularly sensitive to the issue and to be interested in its intense ecclesiastical dimension,”he added.

“In such cases, the responsibility of negotiations, as always, lies exclusively with the governments, which are acquainted every facet of such complex foreign policy issues. It is completely unconscionable and insulting, however, for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to equate national sensitivities and patriotism to the extreme nationalism of Golden Dawn,” he said.

With Greece’s coalition split over whether to let the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) keep the word Macedonia in a new composite name, Tsipras’ office put down reports it’s been decided.

“I refuse to engage in speculation over the name talks,” government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told a press briefing about reports in Albanian media Greece and FYROM, after 25 years of feuding, had reached an agreement with earlier reports indicating it would be New Macedonia, which could spur nationalist protests in Greece.

“A window of opportunity has presented itself,” Tzanakopoulos said, repeating himself after FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev earlier hinted both sides had reached a deal even as United Nations Special Envoy Matthew Nimetz was rekindling talks after a three-year break between the countries.

“We are not interested in rife speculation regarding the name talks, but to proceed with negotiations in a serious manner so that we can find a solution within the next few months to a problem that has been dogging us for 25 years,” he added about reports that FYROM would be allowed to take the name Republic of New Macedonia.

Tsipras’ coalition partner, the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) is led by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who had adamantly rejected allowing FYROM to keep the word Macedonia.

But since then, one ANEL lawmaker has said he was pulling back and would relent in the national interest while another said he won’t and he’s not talking, adding to the confusion over what the government’s stance is and as the major rival New Democracy said there should be a unified position.

Read more here.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Source: thenationalherald.com


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