Kotzias Says Tsipras Blundered, Should Have Aligned With Center-Left

FILE - Former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias delivers his speech during a parliament debate about Prespa Agreement in Athens, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)

ATHENS – Greece’s former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias said his ruling Radical Left SYRIZA lost the May 26 elections for Greek municipalities and the European Parliament because Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was influenced by aides who didn’t want him linking up with the center-left.

Kotzias quit as foreign chief after Tsipras backed then-Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, needing the votes of Kammenos’ tiny Independent Greeks (ANEL) coalition partner to control Parliament.

Kotzias said Tsipras should have tried to align with the center-left, primarily coalesced in the Movement for Change (KINAL) led by former members of the now-defunct PASOK Socialists who went under after backing austerity measures while serving New Democracy in a former coalition.

He said that reachout should have happened  “in a regulated manner and much earlier,” especially after SYRIZA became a minority government when Kammenos took ANEL out of the administration in opposition to a deal that Tsipras made to give away the name of the ancient Greek province of Macedonia to a newly-renamed North Macedonia.

“There is a part of Maximos Mansion that has an arrogant attitude,” Kotzias told Kontra TV, referring to the Premier’s residence. “There needs to be a change of guard, for some people who are close to the Prime Minister to be pushed aside,” he added, said Kathimerini, without elaborating.

“You can’t lose by 9.5 percent and pretend that nothing’s happened,” said Kotzias, who critics said was arrogant as well.

“Certain ministers, like those who told Alexis Tsipras that Sunday’s result would be close, should resign on their own initiative,” after New Democracy pummeled SYRIZA.

The prime minister’s office, he added, was “trapped in a strange relationship with Mr. Kammenos in which I was cast as the enemy.”

The opening to the center-left, Kotzias added, “should not have been made with a commitment that many of those who came in would also be given a post in the cabinet. It does not look good to the public.”

Tsipras,rewarded former ideological enemies or rival swho backed him with rewards of Cabinet positions and even dumped Kotzias, a close ally and friend, to temporarily keep the votes of ANEL.

Kammenos’ party fell to only 0.8 percent of the vote after he reneged on his anti-austerity stance to become Defense Minister and said Tsipras committed “political suicide,” with the deal giving away the name of Macedonia over the opposition of two-thirds of Greeks.