By George Gilson
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has expelled ultra-right MP Konstantinos Bogdanos from ruling New Democracy’s parliamentary group after his vitriolic, Civil War-style attacks on the Greek communists and his extremely intense row with Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, the most popular minister in the latest opinion poll.
A terse announcement by New Democracy noted that, “Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was briefed in Slovenia where he is [visiting] about what happened in Parliament and has decided to expel from ND’s parliamentary group Athens’ First District MP Konstantinos Bogdanos.”
Bogdanos defended his presence at a wreath-laying ceremony at Vitsi in the Kastoria region at an event commemorating the brutal Civil War Battle where the National Army routed the communist-tied Democratic Army of Greece.
Bogdanos and a representative of Golden Dawn were among those who laid a wreath at the ceremony
The national commemoration of the battle by ultra-nationalists in effect rekindles the hatred and national division during the Greek Civil War and has drawn sharp criticism over the years.
Bogdanos names head of PM’s Thessaloniki office
Bogdanos noted that the director of the prime minister’s office in Thessaloniki, Maria Antoniou, also attended the religious doxology at the event, and that is believed to have bolstered the PM’s determination to oust him.
For the prime minister, today’s incident was the last straw after Bogdanos recently came out against migrant kindergartners.
Government spokesman Yannis Economou at the time made clear that Bogdanos will be given a last chance.
“As long as I represent ND in this house such behaviour will not be tolerated!” Dendias declared after a very loud, heated attack on Bogdanos’ exploitation of Civil War divisions.
MP’s nti-communist, anti-migrant, law-and-order profile
Bogdanos has made a name for himself through his vitriolic attacks on the left wing and has cultivated a law-and-order as well as an anti-migrant profile.
The government spokesman weeks ago gave Bogdanos a “yellow card” after he retweeted from a news site that he founded a list of the names of migrant children at an Athens kindergarten, criticising the fact that they were the large majority in the class.
Dendias said that MPS are not in Parliament to rekindle past animosities and he stressed that the country faces a “national threat” from Turkey and that divisive Civil War rhetoric had no place in the legislature. He also noted that his father fought at Vitsi [in the National Army].
Dendias has long taken the hardest stance in New Democracy against the Greek far right, and he has crossed swords in Parliament with MPs of the now outlawed Golden Dawn party, including Elias Kasidiaris, the number three in Golden Dawn.
Dendias’ enraged response
Following a fiery exchange between Bogdanos and Greek Communist Party (KKE) MP Thanasis Paphilis regarding Greece’s Civil War past, the events at Grammo and Vitsi, and the recent attacks by extreme-right and fascist groups at a professional lyceum in Thessaloniki, Dendias lashed out at Bogdanos.
“We are not here to return to the bad past of our country. We are here to discuss the survival of our fatherland in the future. I do not know, colleague [Bogdanos], who was present at the event. I know that my father was present at Vitsi. Therefore, I say that any effort to project upon contemporary political life the country’s painful moments in the past for petty partisan gain is unacceptable,” Dendias declared.
“Aligning with Kasidiaris is unacceptable. Laying a wreath along with Golden Dawn is unacceptable. It is time for us to get serious because the country at this time faces a national threat,” he added.
“As long as I represent the government here I shall not allow such an attempt again,” said Dendias, who slammed his hand on the table in attacking Bogdanos.
What Bogdanos said
The incident began when Bogdanos declared that no one in the chamber can force him to refer to North Macedonia.
New Democracy fiercely opposed the Prespa Agreement that recognised Greece’s neighbour by that name, though once it came to power it honoured the agreement with Skopje reached by SYRIZA leader and then PM Alexis Tsipras.
Bogdanos even marshaled ultra-nationalist Georgios “Digenis Grivas, who was the founder of the Nazi-linked ultra-nationalist X Organisation in 1941, and much later of EOKA B, which played a key role in event’s leading to the coup against Cyprus’ President Makarios in July, 1974.
“Grivas used to say that we have three enemies – The British, the Turks, and the communists. The greatest danger wad posed by the communists,” Bogdanos declared.