ATHENS (AFP) – A newly-appointed Greek minister with a long history on the far-right denied anti-Semitic beliefs yesterday after a prominent Greek official charged he had a “dark past”.
“I have never been an anti-Semite,” said Makis Voridis, who was appointed agriculture minister by new conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis after last week’s election.
Voridis admitted in a statement, however, that as a “nationalist” he had “coexisted politically with people who had such unacceptable ideas.”
“I denounce any act, omission or failure to challenge the acts of another person that could be viewed as anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi,” the 54-year-old lawyer said.
A day earlier, General Secretary of the Central Board of Greek Jewish communities Victor Eliezer said Voridis should have publicly repudiated his “dark past” upon becoming minister.
“We cannot be particularly happy that Mr Voridis was given a cabinet post as until today, he has never publicly renounced the Nazi ideas he represented, and the political alliances he kept,” Eliezer told 24/7 radio.
In the 1990s, Voridis founded a now-defunct ultra-nationalist party affiliated with the far-right National Front in France.
Voridis, who joined the conservative New Democracy party in 2012, was also in the 1980s general secretary of a youth group created by jailed dictator Georgios Papadopoulos.
Voridis is one of at least three former prominent members of the far-right LAOS party to be given posts in the ruling New Democracy party.
He first became minister in a 2011 coalition government that included LAOS.
Another former LAOS lawmaker, 46-year-old Adonis Georgiadis, is the new Minister in charge of Development and Investment.
A firebrand TV book salesman, Georgiadis had to apologise publicly in 2017 for energetically promoting an anti-Semitic tome on his shows.
The tome was penned by controversial lawyer Costas Plevris, a Greek far-right icon whose son Thanos was also elected to parliament with New Democracy last week.