Kotzias, Dugin and the EU

“It has always been Golden Dawn’s position that Greece should not be a part of EU and US sanctions against Russia. Our national interests and geopolitical facts dictate this stance.” This was how the ultranationalist party expressed its backing for the new Greek government on the issue on Wednesday. After receiving a congratulatory telegram from French National Front chief Marine Le Pen after its election victory on Sunday, SYRIZA expressed its abhorrence for the support.

The following happened in between the two events: First, the government partnered up with the right-wing Independent Greeks party and with its chief, Panos Kammenos, a man who questioned whether Jews in Greece pay taxes and who had intended to make a minister of Nikos Nikolopoulos, a politician notorious for a homophobic Tweet addressed at the prime minister of Luxembourg. Second, the appointment as foreign minister of Nikos Kotzias, a man who has been accused – and has denied – ties with Aleksandr Dugin, the ideological guru of Russian President Vladimir Putin and – miracle of miracles – Golden Dawn sympathizer. In an interview published on Golden Dawn’s website last year, the Russian professor said the Greek neo-Nazi party was being “demonized” and said that it “expresses the interests of Greeks, and that is a great thing.”

The bearded father of Eurasia, an empire that would serve as a counterweight to the USA, was in 2013 invited by Kotzias to give a lecture at Piraeus University, where the newly appointed foreign minister is a professor. But, let us not be as dogmatic as Kotzias. Inviting someone to speak does not necessarily mean that you agree with their views, nor do the broad smiles in the photographs of the two men, surrounded by students, constitute evidence of complicity. The chief of Greek diplomacy was verbose in his effort to dispel any shadow of well-intentioned doubt during the handover of the Foreign Affairs Ministry. “Many have tried to present us with a fait accompli before we are even sworn in as a government,” Kotzias said. “Anyone who thinks that because of the debt they can make us stop participating in European policy is kidding himself… Anyone who believes that because of the debt Greece will give up its sovereignty and its active participation in European politics is mistaken.”

That same night Kotzias posted an equally divisive tweet: “Power centers are already annoyed by democratic foreign policy… trying with a multitude of lies to shield their subservience.” So those who see unified economic, fiscal and foreign policy as preconditions for deepening the – albeit imperfect – federalization of the European Union are “subservient.” Those who believe that giving up some of your sovereignty – partially, mutually and equally – is the cornerstone for Europe to move ahead are “subservient.” At the same time, the minister casts the EU as a potential enemy who wants to cheat us and look down on us.

These are worrying signs for a nation that has often found itself brotherless and looking for support from the wrong, though always Christian Orthodox, allies.