ATHENS – Major New Democracy opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Movement for Change (KINAL) chief Fofi Gennimata have joined in condemning high school sit-ins conducted bu students that critics said are being used by the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn to oppose a government deal to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Mitsotakis said he backed the rights of students to protest but not to occupy schools, a common practice in the country over a range of issues and a favorite tactic of many in the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA today when they were young.
Mitsotakis said “every Greek, and every youth has the right to protest” against the deal to rename FYROM as North Macedonia, giving away the name of an ancient Greek province, ironically first agreed by his father in 1992, the late former Premier Constantine Mitsotakis.
“New Democracy was, is and will always be opposed to every form of (school) sit-ins. Others built their political careers on such sit-ins,” he said in a swipe at Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who was a teen leader orchestrating similar protests in high schools.
“Nevertheless, closed schools mean closed minds, and I would not, under any circumstance, want well-meaning patriotism to become the tinder of a barren and extreme nationalism in the hands of certain deft hands,” Mitsotakis said, the business newspaper Naftemporiki reported.
The Prime Minister’s office countered with a response that, “Others emerged through social struggles (i.e. Tsipras) and others with the help of their father and sister,” a reference to the late Constantine Mitsotakis and one-time foreign minister and Athens mayor Dora Bakoyannis, the father and sister of the New Democracy leader.
Ironically, SYRIZA is unhappy with the school sit-ins because they’re tied to the right-wing instead of the left, with Education Minister Costas Gavroglou said Golden Dawn is trying to recruit students, as the Leftists have been doing for decades.
Gennimata, who led the now-defunct PASOK Socialists who vanished after backing austerity measures antithetical to its alleged principles and joined in a center-left movement, tweeted that, “Genuine patriotism was always opposed to hate and nationalism,.” She added that, “We’re closing the doors to fanaticism and divisiveness; we’re listening to the concerns and sensitivities of our children, but with schools open”.