EU lawmakers eye condemnation of Greek far-right ministers

Conservatives in the European Parliament want it to vote next week to condemn a right-wing party in Greece’s new leftist-led coalition government, comparing it to an EU rebuke to Austria 15 years ago.

Manfred Weber, leader of the European People’s Party (EPP), the biggest bloc in the legislature, said on Tuesday he would press centre-left leaders to back a resolution similar to that passed in 2000 when Joerg Haider’s far-right Austrian People’s Party was brought into a conservative-led coalition in Vienna.

That resolution called Haider “xenophobic and racist” and demanded EU leaders place the Austrian government under strict supervision to ensure it abided by human rights treaties.

New Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, from the left-wing SYRIZA party, brought in the right-wing Independent Greeks to form a majority last week to oppose EU austerity measures and made its leader, Panos Kammenos, his defence minister.

Describing the new coalition as “an extremist government,” Weber, from Germany’s Christian Social Union, said he believed the European Parliament should rally behind a position that this was unacceptable.

Recalling centre-left leaders’ condemnation of Austrian conservatives 15 years ago, he said he hoped they would not be «blind in the left eye» and refrain from criticising Tsipras for his pact with Kammenos.

There was no immediate response to the suggestion from the main centre-left bloc in parliament. Centre-left leaders in Europe have joined conservatives in urging Tsipras to continue cooperation with the EU on bailout loans, though have been more sympathetic to his calls for easier debt repayment terms.

Weber said Tsipras must respect the existing deal agreed by his predecessors before there could be any further discussion. [Reuters]