Cyprus Mail

British govt official attends Elam event

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A panel discussion at the ECR conference

A serving member of the British government attended an event held by far-right party Elam on Saturday.

Martin Callanan, the country’s Under-secretary of state for energy efficiency and green finance, joined Elam in Nicosia for a pan-European conference of the hard right group the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which kicked off the group’s European election campaign.

Callanan did not feature at the Saturday evening panel discussion which was open to the press, with Elam leader Christos Christou and four Italians; Defence Minister Isabella Rauti, ECR party secretary Antonio Giordano, the country’s Parliamentary Relations Minister Luca Ciriani, MP Ylenia Lucaselli, and MEP Carlo Fidanza taking to the stage.

However, Callanan had spoken at other events during the day, and both Giordano and Christou confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that he had been present.

Asked whether the presence of a British government representative is an endorsement of Elam on the British government’s part, Christou told the Cyprus Mail “their actions speak for themselves, as you have seen today.”

He was also keen to point out the presence of Italian government ministers at the event, saying it shows Elam has “allies in Europe”.

“The appropriate messages have been sent,” he said.

Founded in 2008, Elam has been frequently described as “far-right”, “ultranationalist”, and “neo-fascist”. In previous years, it had close ties to Greece’s Golden Dawn, even describing it as a “brother movement”.

In the early 2010s, Golden Dawn MPs in Greece had said their party financed Elam, and Elam leader Christos Christou was an active member of Golden Dawn when he lived in Greece.

Greek newspaper Kathimerini claims that “daily telephone calls” were held between Golden Dawn and Elam’s leadership in the first few years after Elam first won seats in parliament in 2016 for “organisational and ideological guidance”.

The newspaper also alleges that there are links between Elam and German neo-Nazi party Die Heimat, formerly known as the NPD.

Ties between Elam and Golden Dawn were officially cut in 2020, and Golden Dawn was declared a criminal organisation later that same year following the conclusion of investigations into the murder of left-wing Greek rapper Pavlos Fyssas.

The British Conservative Party, of which Callanan is a member and which forms the country’s government, was initially a member of the European People’s Party (EPP) but joined the ECR in 2009 as its Euroscepticism hardened and found the group a more natural home as it drifted rightwards throughout the 2010s.

The party has been in government for 14 years, having first won back power under former leader and current Foreign Secretary David Cameron.

Callanan himself led the Conservative Party in the European Parliament between 2010 and 2012, and was ECR chairman between 2011 and 2014, when he lost his European Parliament seat.

He was then awarded a place in the UK’s unelected upper legislature, the House of Lords, and has since served in the governments of four prime ministers: Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and incumbent Rishi Sunak.

Asked to comment on Callanan’s presence at the event, a spokesperson for the British High Commission said, “as a High Commission, it is our policy to not have any contact with Elam,” and stressed that the High Commission is “not responsible” for Callanan’s actions.

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