A vehement clash broke out on Wednesday between the leftist government and the conservative opposition over comments by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, captured on camera during a private conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron, about “extreme-right populists” in protests against the Prespes deal.
The conversation between Tsipras and Macron, which took place on the sidelines of the fifth MED-7 Summit of Mediterranean leaders in Nicosia on Tuesday, was aired by ANT1 TV.
In it, Tsipras can be heard telling Macron, while Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades looks on, “It was tough,” in reference to the protest against the Prespes deal on the Sunday before the agreement was ratified.
Asked by Macron about turnout, he said it was around 70,000, saying it involved “extreme-right populists against the agreement.” Responding to another question by the French president, about whether a majority of Greeks back the agreement, he said, “Yes, I think so.” “The majority of people who can think and criticize with their mind,” he added.
Tsipras’s comments provoked an angry reaction from New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who accused the premier of insulting the Greek people.
“He described not only as far-right but also as mindless those who oppose the Prespes agreement,” Mitsotakis said. “And he behaved in such an insolent and irresponsible manner in front of foreign leaders,” he added.
“He is not only a minority prime minister but an undeserving one who divides his people,” Mitsotakos said, adding that Greeks would “remain united, proud and dignified and will soon give him the answer he deserves.”
Tsipras’s office wasted no time in issuing a scathing response to the ND leader.
“Mitsotakis appears to be completely unaware of the impression made on international public opinion and European leaders by himself, his party and the violent acts committed by the attack squads outside the Greek Parliament,” government sources said, referring to the crowds of far-right protesters who tried to enter the House during a protest on January 20.
Separately on Wednesday, in one-on-one talks between Tsipras and Anastasiades, the latter said that the Prespes deal resolved an “unnecessary” dispute between Athens and Skopje, while Tsipras deemed that it would create the dynamics for a resolution to the Cyprus problem.