NEWS

Loyalists across the political spectrum

Parliamentary deputies of the ruling New Democracy party are very likely to make an appearance at the rally being organized in Thessaloniki. The party has its fair share of patriots in addition to Thessaloniki Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis, who has styled himself as the leader of the hard core. The city’s Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos is of the same ilk. Former Macedonia-Thrace Minister Giorgos Kalantzis is against the idea of a double name for the former Yugoslav republic but does not align himself with the extremists. Larissa deputy Maximos Harakopoulos also belongs to the party’s patriotic wing. Just a few days ago he asked that there be no more «concessions» in the negotiations with Skopje. A split within ND’s patriotic ranks has been caused by Deputy Agricultural Development Minister Costas Kiltidis, who in recent years has been a major bulwark against pressure from the ultranationalist LAOS party. «I don’t need lessons in patriotism from anyone. I have been talking about Macedonia since the 1970s,» he has been saying in private conversations, referring to innuendo from LAOS leader Giorgos Karatzaferis regarding his stance. Kiltidis thinks that the solution proposed by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz has some positive elements as it puts pressure on the government in Skopje. In the wake of Kiltidis’s statements, Thessaloniki deputy Giorgos Salagoudis also made an about turn. A similar stance has been taken by another representative of the so-called populist right, Deputy Culture Minister Yiannis Ioannidis. A leading force in this trend is Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, who once served in the Political Spring party founded by Antonis Samaras and who has been keeping silent. Athens deputy Panos Panayiotopoulos is in the same group, as are Deputy Minister for Island Policy Panos Kammenos, former Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras and Gerasimos Yiakoumatos. The head of the Democratic Renewal party Stelios Papathemelis was a PASOK deputy for nearly 30 years and is one of the most regular speakers at meetings of the Macedonian Struggle Committee, the instigator of all patriotic rallies. Other representatives of that trend are former deputies Lefteris Veryvakis, Christos Kipouros, Panayiotis Kritikos, Yiannis Haralambopoulos, Kimon Koulouris and Dimitris Vounatsos. Two LAOS cadres come from PASOK – former Achaia deputy Alekos Chrysanthakopoulos and current Thessaloniki deputy Kyriakos Velopoulos, who is proud of his service in the party’s youth wing. The LAOS president is the only person to have gained any political capital out of the issue. He made it quite clear that the issue would be his flagship last September, when his party managed to secure seats in Parliament. Other LAOS cadres are deputy Makis Voridis (former leader of the Patriotic Front and a friend of Jean-Marie Le Pen), Antonis Georgiadis and Costas Aivaliotis. Karatzaferis believes that he can even win votes from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), possibly based on, among other things, the patriotic rhetoric of popular KKE deputy Liana Kanelli. The election of Ieronymos as archbishop of Athens and all Greece is a spoke in the wheel of all those in the Holy Synod, such as Thessaloniki’s Bishop Anthimos, who thought they could influence foreign policy. Last Thursday’s announcement expressing the archbishop’s «confidence in the state and political leadership» left no room for doubt. Nevertheless it is certain that some senior clerics will follow the extremist rhetoric, particularly Damaskinos of Maroneia and Andreas of Konitsa, who has called for the autonomy of Northern Epirus.