Government receives flak for deal with hunger strikers

The decision to allow some 300 immigrants who had been on hunger strike for six weeks to renew their residence permits – and to make it easier for others to do so – brought the government into direct confrontation with the conservative New Democracy party and the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) in Parliament on Thursday.

Citizens? Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis defended the government?s decision to reach a deal with the migrants in Athens and Thessaloniki and suggested that this disappointed some people who wanted the protest to get out of control.

?It is clear that some people wanted blood and tension,? he told MPs. ?Despite the subverters, the supporters and the sympathizers, the government will bring order to the chaos.?

Papoutsis, however, came under fire from ND and LAOS, which suggested the government had given in to pressure from the migrants. Both parties said PASOK?s decision was symptomatic of a government in disarray. ?The country is hurtling dangerously toward a lawless situation,? said ND deputy Nikos Dendias. ?The government refuses to recognize this and is falling apart.?

Adonis Georgiadis, an MP with the nationalist LAOS party which has made immigration one of its top issues, was even more outspoken in his criticism of the government.

?You are totally useless,? he said before repeatedly calling Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis, who presided over the negotiations with the migrants and their supporters, a liar.

LAOS deputy Thanasis Plevris accused the government of succumbing to ?blackmail from 300 criminals.? Papoutsis responded by accusing LAOS of ?dangerous populism and playacting.? ?This is how Nazism began,? said Coalition of the Radical Left MP Thanasis Dritsas in reaction to Plevris?s comments.

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