The Greek foreign minister told an American Jewish audience that his government would “never allow hate to grow and spread,” but did not address specific calls to marginalize the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party.
“Let me state from this forum, in the most determined and compelling manner, that Greece will never allow hate to grow and spread,” Dimitris Avramopoulos told the American Jewish Committee’s annual Global Forum in Washington on Monday. “Hate will be confronted and stopped.”
A number of Jewish and international civil rights groups have pressed the conservative New Democracy government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to take steps to marginalize Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party that won 19 of 300 seats in the last elections.
The groups want the government to support laws limiting the activities of explicitly racist parties.
Samaras until now has said he prefers to counter Golden Dawn through political rather than legislative means, and in his AJC speech, Avramopoulos said the key to marginalizing extremists was reviving Greece’s parlous economy.
“The social factors that have allowed this to happen, as in other European countries, must be successfully addressed,” he said. “Ignorance, despair, anger, disillusion with the political system are some of them. I am certain that as the crisis passes, the haters will pass, too.”
Other European foreign ministers speaking at the AJC confab represented two of Israel’s staunchest allies on the continent, Poland and the Czech Republic.