Greece’s junior coalition partners submit anti-racism bill on their own

Junior coalition partners PASOK and Democratic Left (DIMAR) submitted their own anti-racism bill to Parliament on Thursday, based on legislation drawn up by Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis.

However, hopes of achieving a broader consensus on the draft law, which seeks to introduce tougher penalties for racially-motivated crimes, were dashed Wednesday as SYRIZA chief Alexis Tsipras said his party would put forward its own proposal.

“I call on Mr Tsipras to stop these tricks and to vote for the bill in question,” said DIMAR leader Fotis Kouvelis on Wednesday, adding that polarization among leftist parties was working for the benefit of New Democracy conservatives who have opposed the bill.

Meanwhile, ND is reportedly drafting its own provisions to “fill in the gaps” of the existing legislative framework. According to sources, ND’s proposal will essentially comprise one provision, foreseeing the criminalization of all Nazi crimes, including the massacres at the villages of Kalavryta and Distomo.

The amendment would also criminalize the denial of Nazi crimes, in accordance with a pledge Prime Minister Antonis Samaras reportedly made during talks with members of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) in Thessaloniki in March.

On Wednesday, WJC President Ronald Lauder expressed disappointment at the failure of the three parties in Greece’s coalition government to adopt an anti-racism law.

“Hatemongers and extremists such as the leaders of Golden Dawn are not only a threat to minorities such as the Jews; they are a threat to democracy as a whole,” he said of Greece’s neofascist party that has been connected to a number of racially-motivated attacks.