Former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has come under fire on social media for condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Kotzias, a former communist hardliner, was Foreign Minister in the left-led SYRIZA government from Janiary 2015 to October 2018, where he left his mark as the negotiator of a deal that ended the dispute with North Macedonia over the latter’s name, which was “Republic of Macedonia” until the accord signed in Lake Prespes, on the border between the two countries, in 2018.
“I support peace in Ukraine with an honest compromise, as happened with the Prespes [Agreement]. I am on the side of International Law and states’ territorial integrity. I consider Ukraine has a right to defend its existence. I am with the national resistance, with a war against dictatorship, with every people resisting an invader,” Kotzias tweeted Tuesday evening.
After a barrage of hostile commentary, Kotzias came back: “A response to nonsense: just think, given your mistaken passionate support of the Russian violation of international law and the principle of non-violation of borders whether it is the same Russia that finances extreme-right parties across Europe; it even provides them with loans, e.g. [Marine] Le Pen [and her National Rally party].”
He wrote further, in a third tweet: “Because I’m asked: in 1994, the Budapest Agreement was signed by which Ukraine surrendered its nuclear weapons to Russia, in return for a guarantee that Russia will respect and guarantee the inviolability of Ukraine’s borders and Ukraine’s territorial integrity. We are talking about a Treaty, not [a rumor].”
Kotzias resigned in October 2018 after clashing at a cabinet meeting with Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, a populist rightist and SYRIZA’s coalition partner with his Independent Greeks party. Kammenos subsequently also left the government. Kotzias is the leader of a minor political party, Pratto (“I act”) and he had also allied himself with, but not joined, SYRIZA.