Can Europe Make It?

Green but not in the way you might think

Greece is a nation afflicted with polarized political forces. Could the Greek Green Party’s latest MEP nomination foment anti-Israeli sentiments and escalate this polarisation? What does the European Green Party have to say? 

Nikos Raptis
12 February 2014

It is widely expected that in May, 2014 Greece will send off a few neo-Nazi Golden Dawn MEPs alongside several more hardline communists and other radical leftists to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. But the polarization plaguing the country has now acquired some new recruits.

The tiny Greek Green Party 'Ecologist Greens' (OP), who won less than 1% of the votes in the last election, is also hoping to elect their own MEP, as it did for the first time five years ago. If this is achieved, it will almost entirely be due to the support of the European Green Party an affiliation they boast about at every opportunity.

But problems for the European Green Party have arisen with the Greek OP’s recent choice for their European election ballot. Following an internal 'referendum', Vangelis Pissias secured first place, with 251 votes. Pissias is a college professor and was a well-known member of the local Maoist movement. He makes regular visits to Tehran; praises the Islamic revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini, serves as an interlocutor with Hamas and is one of the most ardent enemies of Israel in the country. Pissias regularly participates in flotillas challenging the Israeli presence off the Gaza Strip. In his blog, Khomeini is referred to as a "holy person” and Hamas as a “moderate Islamic political movement”. Moreover, Greek terrorist groups are allegedly practising “armed counter-violence”.

Vangelis Pissias, head organizer of the Ship to Gaza mission, delivers his speech in Athens during a protest

Vangelis Pissias, head organizer of the Ship to Gaza mission, delivers a speech in Athens, June 2010/Demotix/Giorgos Doganis

Whether the Greeks will elect another extreme anti-western Member of European Parliament in May is their own business. What is however, of great importance, is if the European Green Party does not renounce this candidacy as entirely incompatible with the values and policies that it intends to champion in the upcoming elections throughout the 28 member states of the EU.  

When Green parties first appeared on the political scene, their opponents called them “watermelons” – green on the outside and red on the inside – in an effort to discredit them as Soviet-friendly pawns in the Cold War. Most Green parties denied the accusations. In many countries, particularly in northern Europe, they participated in governance in a responsible and productive manner. They led the foreign policy of Germany for eight years, during which they displayed impressive loyalty to NATO and the commitments of the western world. Should Green Parties support Pissias’s nomination, the Greek OP risks being characterized once again as a Trojan horse; green on the outside and green on the inside, but not how you might think!

MEP Nikos Chrysogelos with a colleague at the European Parliament office in Athens, June 2012

MEP Nikos Chrysogelos at the European Parliament office in Athens, 27 March 2012/Flickr/All rights reserved by chrysogelos

Whether Greek Greens are conscious supporters of Hamas and the Iranian regime or merely “useful idiots” in Tehran’s hands, is an important consideration for those Greeks who will ultimately decide if they will elect them into the European Parliament or not. It is, however, a much more serious matter if this nomination is be approved, promoted and embraced by one of the great political families in Europe, the European Greens, who took decades to shake off the stigma of embracing political extremism.

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