Chrysi Avgi ruling: a turning point for Greece?

More than 30 members of the far-right Chrysi Avgi were sentenced to prison last week. Party leader Nikos Michaloliakos was given 13 years and the party supporter who stabbed rapper Pavlos Fyssas to death in 2013 received the life sentence. A week ago, Chrysi Avgi was declared a criminal organisation at the end of the trial that lasted for five years.

Open/close all quotes (UA) /

The roots lie deep in the past

Even after the verdict against the Chrysi Avgi leadership right-wing extremism is not about to disappear, Anatoliy Maksimov of Adastra think tank fears in

“Some former members are starting their own political projects, such as the National Popular Consciousness [Ethnikí Laïkí Syneídisi]. ... During the [right-wing extremist demonstration] UniteTheRight 2017 in Charlottesville (US), the organisers said they were inspired by their Greek counterparts. What is particularly worrying is the fact that this is happening in a country that was severely traumatised by the Nazis during World War II, an EU country whose motto is 'Never Again'. Also significant is the fact that after the liberation of Greece the British troops transferred power to right-wing forces and not the left-wing 'partisans' who spearheaded the fight against Hitler.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Greek democracy has passed the test

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung praises Greek democracy:

“The fact that this party entered the Athens parliament in 2012 and even became the third strongest force there in 2015 was frightening. But Greece's democratic party landscape - and after initial hesitation also its judiciary - have reacted with resolve. The parties agreed firmly in favour of exclusion. The wheels of the judiciary were set in motion in 2015. The trial against Golden Dawn exposed these self-proclaimed defenders of the fatherland as greedy, quarreling clowns, and this has gradually dawned on the voters as well. Greece's democracy has passed the test that Golden Dawn put it through.”

Avvenire (IT) /

Others were also to blame

Greece's conservatives and socialists are not entirely innocent either, Avvenire puts in:

“Thousands of people from all parties greeted the verdict on the square as if it were a kind of liberating cleansing. And that's no surprise. Chryssi Avgi is a salutary scapegoat for everyone. For mistakes for which not the Nazi xenophobes are to blame, but indirectly all political camps and above all the two major parties that fought for power during the ten-year crisis, Nea Demokratia and Syriza. The fact that Golden Dawn existed and committed crimes can also be put down to the mistakes committed by both of those parties.”

Blog Pitsirikos (GR) /

This is not justice

For blogger Pitsirikos, however, the real culprits have once again escaped:

“Some argue that justice has been done. That justice has won. But before the country went bankrupt Chrysi Avgi was as good as non-existent. Greece's problem in 2010 was bankruptcy, not fascism. And justice must be done by ensuring that those who led the country into bankruptcy are held accountable - which has never happened. ... Chrysi Avgi is very useful for all the country's 'institutions'. ... What will the system do? It will invent a new Chrysi Avgi. More modern, with fewer ruffians and more suits. ... I'll see you in court in ten years' time to celebrate justice for the new victims of the new Chrysi Avgi.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Still fertile ground for neo-Nazi parties

Although this means the end for the party it is not the end of the ideology behind it, explains Toon Beemsterboer, Turkey correspondent for NRC Handelsblad:

“The breeding ground has not disappeared. After the 2019 elections, a new right-wing extremist party entered parliament: Elliniki Lysi [Greek Solution] secured ten seats (3.7 percent of the vote). The right-wing conservative Nea Dimokratia party came to power, partially adopting Chrysi Avgi's xenophobic rhetoric and carrying out illegal - and sometimes violent - deportations of migrants trying to cross the border into Greece. Despite the demise of Chrysi Avgi, right-wing extremist violence has been on the rise again in Greece in recent years.”