A short-lived negation

Shortly before New Democracy held elections to choose its new president in November 2009, the Palaio Faliro chapter of the conservative party?s youth group, known as ONNED, sent a questionnaire to the three candidates (Dora Bakoyannis, Antonis Samaras and Makis Psomiadis) in a bid to clarify the ideological character of the center-right political sphere.

It was an interesting and unprecedented initiative. For the first time, the members of a youth party organization posed fundamental ideological questions (on themes ranging from privatizations to minimum income and migration policy) to the candidates before the party members actually cast their votes.

Their answers were published on the organization?s blog as well as in the press. Among the 23 questions, there was one that stands out in the light of recent developments in Libya.

The question: ?When a state violates human rights, the international community (the United Nations and NATO) have a right to step in, even if that state claims that its national sovereignty is in breach. Do you agree??

The answers were as follows:

Bakoyannis said: ?I want to be clear on this issue. Respect for human rights is a fundamental principle of human rights and it determines the degree of human civilization. With regard to the issue of humanitarian interventions, the UN charter clearly sets out how the international community can intervene against a state that has breached international law.?

Samaras?s response was ?No.?

In the end, of course, Samaras was elected chairman of New Democracy. But when the party was actually called upon to take a stand on the issue, its vice president Dimitris Avramopoulos responded by saying, ?Yes.?

So, yes, you should look before you leap. But not just that. Greece is not cut off from the problems of the broader region. Even if Greece did not have a humanitarian duty or other obligations deriving from Greece?s membership of the UN, there is always the concern of a mass influx of immigrants. This would become a major headache for Europe?s Mediterranean countries if Muammar Gadhafi were left alone to deal with protesters his own way. And the first place that the prosecuted would run to would be Greece. Thankfully, New Democracy was quick to correct its mistake.

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