Opposition slams gov’t preparations for Syria hit
As the government scrambled to prepare for a US strike against Syria, following reports that Greece has been asked to provide a supporting role by offering its military bases and air and sea access, the main leftist opposition slammed authorities for taking a submissive role despite strong opposition to a Syria intervention in the UK, France and the US itself.
In an address to the central committee of his party on Saturday, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras lashed out against Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos and government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, referring to “a pathetic gang of willing yes-men.” The leftist leader was particularly critical of Venizelos, whom he accused of “seeking an intervention in Syria before Obama himself had decided,”
referring to US President Barack Obama. Tsipras insisted that SYRIZA was completely opposed to the prospect of any military strike against Syria, noting that this would be “inconceivable” in the absence of any form of approval from the international community.
Venizelos is said to have spoken by telephone with several European Union counterparts and peers from Arab states in recent days as Greece attempts to prepare for the fallout of a Syria intervention but also, sources said, to promote itself as a reliable interlocutor with all sides.
Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos is reportedly in favor of Greece taking a bolder diplomatic initiative, possibly mediating between the different sides to avert an intervention.
Greek government officials have been discussing two action plans – code-named Cosmos and Ioni – related to the likely repercussions of a strike against Syria. The first plan concerns the safe evacuation of Greek citizens living in Syria if such a need arises, and the second aims to bolster Greece’s land and sea borders to deal with a likely surge in refugees from Syria. According to sources, the country’s armed forces have already started drafting plans for the transfer of Greek citizens from Syria by air or sea, depending on the restrictions imposed by the upheaval.