In an unprecedented setback to diplomatic relations between the two EU members, Greece on Tuesday recalled its ambassador to the Czech Republic, Panayiotis Sarris, for consultations.
The decision by Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias came in response to comments by Czech President Milos Zeman to Slovak news agency TASR last week that his country would only join the eurozone after Greece had left the common currency area.
“I was very disappointed from the result of the negotiations which almost led to the so-called Grexit, but eventually ended up with Greece staying in the eurozone,” said Zeman, adding that he would not like to see Greek debts being shouldered by Czech taxpayers.
Athens lodged a formal complaint with the Czech ambassador in Greece last week while Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras issued a laconic statement saying that “the Czech Republic is a member-state of the European Union thanks to Greece.”
However, Athens made no further response to Zeman’s remarks in anticipation of a retraction from Prague. On Tuesday, Kotzias eventually decided to recall Sarris.
Sources told Kathimerini that the move does not amount to a suspension of diplomatic ties between the two states, but it does mark a downgrade of relations between two EU partners.
According to the same people, the diplomatic reaction is also aimed at conveying a signal to governments in Slovakia and Hungary, which appear to have been maintaining a skeptical stance toward Athens since the outset of the debt crisis in 2010 – a stance that has deteriorated since the summer due to the refugee crisis.