NEWS

Speech by composer Mikis Theodorakis stirs controversy

TAGS: Protest, Politics

A speech at Sunday's "Macedonia" protest rally in Athens by veteran composer Mikis Theodorakis, widely respected for his resistance to Greece's junta, provoked debate on Monday. 

"If we give in, we are leaving the doors wide open for a tragic historical lie to come through and stay forever," the 92-year-old composer told a large crowd in Syntagma Square on Sunday, referring to United Nations-mediated negotiations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia regarding the latter's name.

"There is only one Macedonia," he added. "It is, was and will always be Greek." 

In comments to state television, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos accused Theodorakis of "shifting to bigoted and politically extreme positions."

"I don't believe it was the right choice to speak as he did at the rally," Tzanakopoulos said, adding that he was not sure whether Theodorakis's reference to "left-wing fascism" also referred to himself and his past.

The government spokesman also noted the paradox of members of the extreme-right Golden Dawn hailing Theodorakis's speech.

Alternate Environment Minister Socrates Famellos also expressed his discontent over the composer's speech, referring to it as "a negative moment" in his history. "Obviously I don't agree with any part of his speech," he said.

Famellos also indicated that Theodorakis's presence at a rally attended by extreme-rightists "legitimates far-right rhetoric."

Leftist SYRIZA's spokesman Christos Mantas told Real FM that he felt very "bitter" about the speech and about the fact that "a person who has struggled for the Left, struggled against fascism... became a symbol for people who I imagine he does not agree politically with at all."

Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris told Skai that he thought Theodorakis's speech was "incendiary." "I don't believe he should have been there," he added. 

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