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Tuesday, 16 July 2019 09:56
In a radio interview (News 24/7, July 12, 2019) to journalist Seraphim Kotrotsos, the Secretary General of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece Victor Eliezer, with accuracy and clarity, presented the position and the feelings of the Greek Jewry towards Makis Voridis whose political past was linked to neo-nazi ideology.

AUDIO FILE of the interview (in Greek) HERE

The full transcript of the interview:

JOURNALIST S. KOTROTSOS: Therefore, I asked to speak with the Secretary General of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, Mr Victor Eliezer, a man who of course knows very well both the affairs of Israel and those of Greece as well, because of his capacity as a journalist he can realize even better the way the Israeli  media react. Mr Eliezer, good evening, thank you for being with us.

V.ELIEZER:  Good evening Mr. Kotrotsos, good evening to your listeners.

S. KOTROTSOS: Firstly let’s mention the very good words of Netanyahu to Mitsotakis as a result of an excellent relation between Greece and Israel, that has been built over many years, which I think is not easy to crack.

V.ELIEZER:  Well, this is true, it is very accurate. Bilateral relations of all levels have been built over the last ten years. Also regarding cooperation for the exploitation of natural resources, as you know, with the participation of Cyprus. There are excellent bilateral relations in the field of cultural exchanges, and in the field of economy, with tourism being the prevailing factor.

S. KOTROTSOS: I interrupt you for the economy of time, let us not expand on this point, it is clear, I have repeatedly reported on this and I consider this alliance of strategic value.

V.ELIEZER:  Well, the cooperation is a fact, on my opinion. It is also a fact that the bonds with the Prime Minister Mr Mitsotakis are bonds of unbreakable friendship that also have a historic background, given that a close relative of Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been awarded the title of the ‘Righteous among the Nations’ for the rescue of Jews of Crete. Thus, your realize…

S. KOTROTSOS: His father, you mean his father …

V.ELIEZER:  I mean his hunt,

S. KOTROTSOS: His hunt! I did not remember that…

V.ELIEZER:  Of course! In addition, the bonds of friendship are tight because of Konstantinos Mitsotakis who was the Greek Prime Minister who recognized de jure the existence of the State of Israel in 1990. He was also the first Prime Minister that officially visited the State of Israel.


V.ELIEZER:  Additionally, Kyriakos Mitsotakis himself was awarded last year by the American Jewish Committee for the struggle against antisemitism both in Greece and in Europe. Therefore, you realize that these ties are inseparable and are not based on circumstantial facts.

S. KOTROTSOS:  I fully realize that. I also saw a customary letter [by KIS] that the Minister of Environment, Mr Adonis Georgiadis, uploaded on social media.

V.ELIEZER:  The Minister of Development

S. KOTROTSOS (laughing):  Right! Sorry, sorry! See, you are better informed than me!

V.ELIEZER (laughing): I try to be precise.

S. KOTROTSOS: Of course you are absolutely precise. Well, Mr. Georgiadis uploaded it on social media. Nevertheless, there is an issue -according to the media- with Mr Makis Voridis. Is it a real issue?

V.ELIEZER:  I will tell you. First of all let’s make clear that similar letters -as the one sent to Mr. Adonis Georgiadis- were sent to all the Ministers of this Government, as they were sent to all Ministers of the previous Government, as well as to the Governments before, to all democratically elected Governments

S. KOTROTSOS: Therefore, probably Mr. Georgiadis was more pleased than the others and uploaded it on social media.

V.ELIEZER:  No, apparently Mr Georgiadis, in order to respond to various articles that reminded of his past, rightfully posted this letter in order to prove that this issue has been solved.

S. KOTROTSOS: You are right! This issue has been solved.

V.ELIEZER:  It has been solved and any reference to this is to no avail and most probably it serves political purposes.

Now, as far as it concerns the issue of Mr. Voridis, it is true and I told you before that letters were sent to congratulate all Ministers …

S. KOTROTSOS: To Mr. Voridis as well?

V.ELIEZER:  Not to Mr. Voridis. Let me put it this way: As Greek Jews and as Greek citizens we cannot be particularly pleased with the appointment of Mr. Voridis as Minister, who up until now has never publicly rejected the Nazi ideology he advocated for, and his personal and political alliances when he was the leader of the National Front, I mean with Jean Marie Le Pen, and then as member of the LAOS party, under the leadership of Mr. Karatzaferis.

S. KOTROTSOS: Mr. Eliezer, I want to ask you something. You realize -and I am sure you realize that, because obviously you have coordinated [with the Board]- that you represent the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece. What you say, is of great journalistic interest on one side, but on the other it is a “heavy” position -with the word “heavy” in quotation marks- towards a Minister of the new Government.

May I ask, because I think I am automatically entitled to ask, is there an interference, or an incitement -even if at a light tone- from the Central Board, or let alone from Israel and the Government of Netanyahu to the Mitsotakis administration with regard to Mr. Voridis? Would you rather that he was not in the Government?

V.ELIEZER:  Look, Mr. Kotrotsos, so that we are clear. What the Government of the State of Israel does, is something that the Ambassador of Israel or the representatives of the Israeli State can tell you about with absolute clarity. Therefore, I will not at all refer to the level of reactions of the Israeli Press and of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, and I will not comment on that.

In any other case, and without aiming at attaching more importance to it, as a Greek citizen I would expect from Minister Voridis a clear position of rejection of a dark past. The past hunts us wherever we are. Thus, in our political career even if our affiliation with a democratic party makes self-evident the fact that we have denounced those views, when those positions have been so extreme, so provocative, not only towards the Jews, I stress this fact so that you do not think that it considers only the Jews.

Listen, the foundation of a neo-nazi or of a fascist party is not a problem that only considers the Jews exclusively. It is a problem of a whole society. Therefore, I would expect -I do not hide it- the recognition and the rejection of this past with a public statement. It is better that we courageously express our view, even more so when we undertake a ministerial position, to make things clear.   

S. KOTROTSOS: So, as Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, you ask a public statement from Mr Makis Voridis, to reject, ‘denounce’ his past, which you say it was literally linked  to neonazi views.

V.ELIEZER:  Look, it is not that I say so! It is registered by the history itself.

S. KOTROTSOS: Yes. I put it this way because we talk together.

V.ELIEZER:  Yes, yes, no objection, but this is documented by history. It is not an allegation. And I believe that Mr. Voridis knows very well this activity of his and he recognized it. Thus, no one can undo the past and no one can distort it.

S. KOTROTSOS: Of course, I ought to say that occasionally, in public discourse, -in fact in one discussion I had with him on TV- he has mentioned that all this belonged to another age, to another era. He has shown that he’d rather not remember…

V.ELIEZER:  Mr. Kotrotsos, I have all good intentions….

S. KOTROTSOS: Yes, Yes, I am ‘advocating for the devil’ here…

V.ELIEZER:  Yes, but it does not mean that one automatically rejects this [activity] only because it belonged to another era! Thus, a direct rejection is -I believe- a brave political act which…

S. KOTROTSOS: Is what you expect from Mr. Voridis, it is clear

V. ELIEZER: which restores democratic order.

S. KOTROTSOS: One last question. I repeat: As Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, with regard to all this that we now publicly discuss, and present major interest- have you informed, or have you asked anything from the office of the Prime Minister, or from the Maximou Megaron, or from Mr. Mitsotakis?

V.ELIEZER:  No, explicitly not! We have asked absolutely nothing.

S. KOTROTSOS: You just publicly state that you expect from Mr. Voridis something like that.

V.ELIEZER:  Let me tell you. We publicly state what we feel and what we sense. Right? So, from this point on -I am not in favor of rigid language- one can comprehend and draw one’s own conclusions, I think that my Greek was absolutely clear.

S. KOTROTSOS: Excellent! No doubt about that…

V.ELIEZER:  And with no ambiguity, I leave no margin for misinterpretation. Right?

S. KOTROTSOS: You are absolutely clear.

V.ELIEZER:  On the other hand, let’s not put too much pressure on this issue, because reality is different. Yes, we await and expect a public statement from Mr. Voridis who today is a legitimately elected and appointed Minister of the Greek Government and this makes the clarification of this position even more necessary.

S. KOTROTSOS: Mr. Eliezer, I thank you very much for this communication. You are absolutely clear.

News 247, 12.7.2019 




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