NEW YORK/LONDON – The resignation of a top adviser to the Greek prime minister, after he was caught on videotape discussing an investigation of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party with an official of the same party, underscores that Europeans “need to establish a common policy against dealings with neo-Nazi, racist, and anti-Semitic elements, and a clear 'cordon sanitaire' vis-à-visthese parties,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder declared on Tuesday.
“It is outrageous that an aide to Greek Prime Minister AntonisSamaras spoke to a known anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, and it is only fitting that the aide resigned,” Lauder said. “But this egregious episode points to a larger problem – that legitimate European parties need to isolate racists and anti-Semites like Golden Dawn. Such a policy becomes even more important before the European elections in May, when such disgusting parties stand to gain in Greece and elsewhere.”
Samaras’s chief of staff, Takis Baltakos, resigned last week after Golden Dawn released a video in which Baltakos is seen telling Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris that the prime minister had allegedly pressed judges to jail members of Golden Dawn for political reasons. Police and magistrates have been investigating charges that Golden Dawn, its members and supporters were involved in a series of violent attacks, including the killing of a left-wing rapper in September, and have formed a criminal organization. Golden Dawn's leader and other senior members have been detained pending trial on charges of belonging to a criminal organization.
Lauder further declared that WJC “has every confidence in the legal process in Greece" and said that "if the charges are upheld in court and Golden Dawn is ruled a criminal organization, the full force of the law must be brought to bear upon it.”
The Greek Parliament last Wednesday voted to removeKasidiaris' and four other Golden Dawn lawmakers' parliamentary immunity, clearing the way for another round of criminal charges against its members. Four of the lawmakers named on Wednesday, including the party leader's wife EleniZaroulia, will now be charged with belonging to a criminal organization and of carrying unregistered firearms.
The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS), aWJC affiliate, expressed "strong resentment that a government official was in conversation” with Kasidiaris. In a statement, KIS added: "We repeat our firm position and once more call upon the democratic political parties to join forces and combat the morphemes of Nazism in our country within the framework of the Constitution and the rule of law."
KIS said that Greece and Europe had a "duty to isolate those who seek the return of Nazism, and those who disseminate racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic ideas, in order to safeguard democracy."