Greece cancels decoration for refugee rescuer
President Katerina Sakellaropoulou had officially announced that sea rescuer and government critic Iasonas Apostolopoulos was to be awarded an Order of the Phoenix for his humanitarian work on 24 July, the day marking the restoration of democracy in Greece. Now, however, he has been removed from the list of honourees without explanation. What's behind the move?
Only Athens thinks he doesn't deserve the award
Nea Dimokratia clearly didn't like Apostolopoulos's public criticism of the pushbacks that Greece's authorities carry out for the EU in the Mediterranean, explains Efimerida ton Syntakton:
“It obviously didn't go down well with the ruling party that Iasonas Apostolopoulos has drawn attention to the criminal policy of the European Union, which has led to the death of numerous refugees and migrants. The same goes for his complaints about the attitude of the Greek state and the Greek coast guard. As far as everyone else is concerned, he should have received the award.”
A dangerous backdown
The cancellation of the award for Apostolopoulos weakens the balance between the political institutions, criticises Stelios Kouloglou, journalist and MEP of the left Syriza, in TVXS:
“President Sakellaropoulou should not have given in to pressure from the far right regarding Apostolopoulos. There was no way to blackmail her into changing her mind. She should have defended the democratic institutions and stuck to her stance. ... In politics, in the social sphere and in life, the following applies: either your heart is in it or you may as well not bother.”