The attack against Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris on Saturday was “shameless and unethical,” European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas, a veteran of Greece’s New Democracy Conservatives said of the assault on the renowned far-Leftist.
Schinas made his remarks in a speech opening the 43rd Annual General Assembly of the Exporters’ Association of Northern Greece (SEVE), saying he was upset by what he saw and read of the vicious attack that took place during a ceremony marking the WWI massacre of Black Sea Pontic Greeks by Turks.
Boutaris, an anti-nationalist, has expressed desires for closer relations with Turkey and wanted to honor Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish state who was in power when Greeks were slaughtered in Anatolia, which Greece lost to Turkey.
“Thessaloniki grew through the centuries as a crossroads of cultures and a place where cultures and perceptions come together, and this is how it will become great,” Schinas was quoted as saying by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency.
“I would not like to read what I have read in recent days, which made Thessaloniki news throughout Europe for the wrong reasons. I would like Thessaloniki to be good news in Europe and the world,” he added.
Police on the scene were said to just watch and not try to stop the attack and no one was arrested as the Mayor was taken away under protection and went to a hospital for an assessment, shaken and calling the incident despicable.
Footage from the scene shows the Mayor being heckled before the assailants hurled bottles at him and kicked him in the head and legs. As he is hastily escorted into his car, some of the attackers attempt to smash the vehicle’s windows and as one man carrying a toddler waved his arms and screamed at Boutaris.
The assault was quickly blamed by the government and opposition on fascist supporters in Greece but was praised by the Mayor of one city who belongs to New Democracy. The Conservatives leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, didn’t say anything nor removed the mayor from the party.