By inviting an Azov fighter to address Greece’s parliament, Zelensky opened the country’s historic wounds and triggered angry demonstrations that have shaken its pro-US government.
“Solidarity with the Ukrainian people is a given. But the Nazis cannot have a say in parliament.” These are the words of Alexis Tsipras, the former PM and leader of Greece’s left-liberal Syriza Party.
Tsipras was reacting to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s attempt to legitimize the Azov Battalion, an umbrella of far-right and fascist fighters trained by the US to battle Russians in Ukraine, as he toured foreign capitals to appeal for direct and indirect military support.
Zelensky stirred controversy with his April visit to Greek parliament in an effort to win support for his country’s anti-Russian war effort. Mariupol, home to a significant number of ethnic Greeks who have faced persecution from the neo-Nazi Azov Brigade, was a particular area of concern in Athens.
During his visit to parliament, Zelensky played a video featuring an Azov fighter who claimed that his relatives had fought the German Nazis in the Second World War. This was seen as a cynical attempt to whitewash the fascist organization. It was particularly painful for Greeks still haunted by the ghosts of World War II, when the country boasted a strong left that resisted the Third Reich.
Once the Nazis had been defeated and the British empire weakened, the US moved in to Greece with full-force to transform it into an anti-Soviet hub, terrorizing the Greek left and absorbing the nation into NATO. Since then, the Pentagon has viewed Greece and its neighbor Turkey as a strategic bulwark. Both countries act as logistical bridges between the pro-US Europe and the oil-rich Middle East.
NATO’s ongoing proxy war against Russia has brought these strategic interests into stark relief, triggering union strikes against the offloading of weapons headed for Ukraine and stirring a wave of public anger against Zelensky and his Greek hosts for their provocative publicity stunt in parliament.
The outrage has emanated directly from painful memories of Nazi occupation and the CIA’s sustained assaults on Greece’s post-war democracy….