Controversy over gov’t refusal to attend conference on communist crimes continues

Controversy over gov’t refusal to attend conference on communist crimes continues

The controversy surrounding the government’s refusal to attend a conference last week in the Baltic state of Estonia about the crimes committed by communist regimes spilled over into Parliament Thursday with acrimonious exchanges between lawmakers which, at times, got personal.

Democratic Alignment lawmaker Andreas Loverdos reportedly called Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos a “punk” after the latter sought to defend the decision not to take part in the conference in Tallinn, describing critics as “anti-communists.”

Loverdos said that, rather than boycotting events, governments have many ways at their disposal to express reservations. “You can, for instance, participate with a general secretary or an ambassador,” he said. Katrougalos shot back, describing critics as representatives of the “extreme center,” adding that many of them, including members of Democratic Alignment, are planning to join the main opposition conservatives.

Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis had kicked up a storm last week saying that Greece would boycott the conference, as it would send “a wrong message” because it equated Nazism and communism, whose Red Army, he said, helped liberate Europe. His Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu countered in a letter to Kontonis that the Soviet Union did indeed help defeat the Nazis but the Red Army did not liberate countries so “that they could determine their destiny.” 

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