The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism, has voiced its concern over the appointment of Makis Voridis as Health Minister in Monday's government reshuffle.
Speaking to Kathimerini, ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, who earlier this week met with Antonis Samaras in Athens, said the choice of Voridis, a lawyer with a far-right background, was at odds with the Greek prime minister's stance during the crackdown on the country's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.
"We are saddened and concerned by the appointment of Makis Voridis as Health Minister," he said. "We praised the prime minister's stance in the case of Golden Dawn but underlined that this appointment undermines his approach.
"Mr Samaras set high standards in terms of morals and respect for diversity and now he appoints Mr Voridis. He did not agree with our view but agreed to examine the matter again in the future."
Foxman expressed reservations about whether the conservative leader is determined to stay the course on GD, which he described as "a poison that has infected the Greek political system."
Also, Foxman said he had conveyed to the Greek prime minister the US-based organization's unease over the results of a recent ADL global survey of anti-Semitism.
The survey, which was published last month, indicated that 69 percent of Greeks “harbor anti-semitic attitudes.” This was the highest percentage in Western Europe.
Foxman said the Greek premier told him he was “shocked” by the ADL findings and that the two men agreed to discuss measures to curb the trend.
A former MP with the ultranationalist Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), Voridis joined New Democracy in February 2012.
In the early 1980s he led the EPEN (National Political Union) youth group that was founded by ex-dictator Georgios Papadopoulos from inside Korydallos Prison. Five years later, Voridis was kicked out of the law school student union for engaging in extremist acts. In an infamous picture taken at the time, he is seen wielding a hand-made ax which he later said was for self-defense.
In the mid-1990s, Voridis established the Hellenic Front (Elliniko Metopo), a nationalist party with close ties to Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front in France. In 2005, Hellenic Front merged with LAOS and Voridis was elected to Parliament two years later.