ATHENS – Calls from his own party for Deputy Education Minister Costas Zouraris could lead to his being forced out after he slurred Greek soccer teams and used profane language to dismiss another.
Zouraris, a provocative figure in the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who are junior partners in the coalition led by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, insulted Athens’ Olympiacos as well as Aris, a team based in Thessaloniki where he was speaking to Metropolis radio.
“Who gives a f**k about Aris,” he said in language similar to US President Donald Trump describing Haiti and some places in Africa “shithole countries,” whose residents shouldn’t be allowed in America.
While the major rival New Democracy Conservatives went after him’ “With his most recent comments, Costas Zouraris has become a symbol of this government’s debasement and degeneracy. The country’s problem is not Zouraris but the person who chose people like him to govern,” New Democracy said in a statement.
An ANEL lawmaker and Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Dimitris Kammenos said Zouraris should be forced out by party leader and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who is no relations. “It’s him or me,” Dimitris Kammenos said.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras brought in some ANEL lawmakers into hic Cabinet after getting the party into his Administration to have a scant three-vote majority in Parliament even though the parties are ideological opposites. ANEL has voted for SYRIZA austerity measures after both said they would reject them before bowing to international creditors.
MP Kammenos said that, “We will not tolerate another insult from Zouraris against the fans of the two teams,” referring to a previous incident where the deputy minister had made similar disparaging remarks about Olympiacos.
“These are divisive comments that create an explosive climate,” he said. There was no immediate reaction from Panos Kammenos who has done Tsipras’ bidding so that ANEL, polling at only around 1 percent in surveys, can stay in power even though it allegedly opposes SYRIZA policies.