OPINION

Amateur antics or overstepping the mark?

There are 149 plus two reasons why those who have been watching SYRIZA’s progress since its start cannot and never will be able to stomach the leftist party’s coalition with Independent Greeks (ANEL), a one-man show that is nationalist, conspiratorial, irrational and intolerant to the extreme. The political and ideological reasons that not only justify the opposition of SYRIZA’s left-wing voters to the alliance with the right-wing nationalist ANEL but make it mandatory, have been there since the outset and are becoming stronger with every day that passes. The main reason is that certain issues on the government agenda are being dictated by ANEL chief and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos. Take the populist-militaristic celebrations marking Greek Independence Day for example.

On the occasion of this anniversary, Kammenos also visited the US. There, he did not behave like a defense minister, as dictated by his office, but as a power unto himself, independent of the government. Possibly carried away by the excitement of visiting the world’s biggest superpower as a military leader, he offered the US the opportunity to exploit Greek natural gas reserves together with the Greek state in a 70-30 or 80-20 partnership. His generosity may have been meant to counterbalance an earlier statement he had made that led to the US Congress blocking a resolution commemorating the start of Greece’s revolution against Ottoman rule for the first time in 30 years. In another improvised initiative, Kammenos had threatened to allow irregular migrants to travel to other European countries if Greece’s lenders punish the country. Possibly suggesting Europe’s Islamization as well?

Kammenos’s generosity has no political, legal or constitutional basis. Gas reserves are not the Defense Ministry’s jurisdiction. There are other ministries responsible for such matters. There is also a prime minister. And, of course, there’s Parliament, where such decisions are discussed and ratified. Greece’s hidden natural wealth, the size of which remains undetermined as yet, is not a toy to be used by whichever politician is trying to impress the US, Russia, China or whomever else. It is not there to be used as a foreign relations stunt.

Can Kammenos’s statements be seen as his personal opinion? Sure, he’s entitled to them, like all ministers, but only within the bounds of his role, because no minister has the right to forget that he is part of a collective body and cannot trespass on others’ territory. And no one, however narcissistic a fan of improvisation, has the right to present his personal views as government policy, even going so far as to adapt them depending on his audience. Even if this amateur production of noise and confusion is nothing more than a sign of teething trouble, a solution needs to be found before it sets in for good.