Greek MEPs, as well as the vast majority of Cypriots ones, declined to attend a dinner hosted by House Speaker Demetris Syllouris on Wednesday night in Brussels, on grounds that he had invited the MEPs of Greek far-right party Golden Dawn.
In a tweet on Wednesday night, MEP and European Parliament Vice-President with Greece’s ruling party, left-wing Syriza, Demetris Papadimoulis said “the Greeks and the vast majority of Cypriot MEPs said no to inviting [Golden Dawn] to the Cypriot House speaker’s dinner. A positive message!”
Greece has 21 MEPs, three with Golden Dawn, and Cyprus six.
According to state broadcaster CyBC, the only attendees at the dinner were Eleni Theocharous, leader of the Solidarity movement, to which Syllouris also belongs, and Golden Dawn’s MEPs.
In a written statement on Thursday, Theocharous said the Greek and Cypriot MEPs’ absence from the dinner was “a mistake” and argued that such attitudes toward democracy are what “fascism and fascist movements across Europe feed on”.
“The House Speaker was asked by a Cypriot MEP to invite their Greek counterparts, as is customary,” Theocharous said.
“The House Speaker obliged, unaware of the partisan bickering that largely applies to official events but is ignored in social gatherings. Many believe their absence was an act of resistance, but in essence, they simply left the coast clear for Golden Dawn.”
The Cyprus Mail has learnt that Syllouris was asked to invite the Greeks by ruling Disy MEP Lefteris Christoforou, who would not be in attendance anyway because he was scheduled to leave Brussels earlier on Wednesday.
“I am saddened by the unfair behaviour toward the House Speaker,” Theocharous said.
Greek MEP Stelios Kouloglou, also with Syriza, had tweeted earlier on Wednesday “not with the Junta sympathisers” and attached a letter he had sent Syllouris, in which he laid out the reasons for declining the invitation to attend the dinner.
Kouloglou told Syllouris that inviting the Golden Dawn MEPs broke with the established practice of past years.
“I don’t know if you know that the neo-Nazi formation is on trial in Greece, charged with being a criminal organisation after the murder of (rapper and left-wing activist) Pavlos Fyssas and the murderous attacks against Greek citizens and migrants,” Koulouglou said in his letter.
“It is however, impressive, that the president of the Cypriot parliament invites MPs from the party of the people who longed for the April (1967) dictatorship, which is responsible for the treachery in Cyprus and its occupation by Turkish troops,” he added.
Golden Dawn was put on trial following the stabbing murder of outspoken songwriter and singer in the Piraeus suburb of Keratsini on September 18, by a self-confessed member of Golden Dawn.
The party is accused of being a criminal organisation structured along a strict hierarchy that determines its members’ actions.
At issue are Fyssas’ murder, but also attacks on members of a Communist-affiliated union as well as on migrant workers and individuals opposed to the party.