Ever Closer Union

by Andrew Stuttaford

Alexis Tsipras, the Chavez-in-waiting who heads up Greece’s far left Syriza coalition. Syriza, the main opposition group in the country, is currently running either first or second in the polls, its popularity helped by its, uh, robust attitude to Germany.

Der Spiegel:

After being asked this weekend about previous anti-German comments, Greek leftist opposition leader Alexis Tsipras cut short an interview with one of the country’s top newspapers, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Within minutes, he threw out the reporter for allegedly unethical reporting, a charge the paper denies. It was all over after the fifth question. Alexis Tsipras, the head of the leftist Greek alliance Syriza, broke off an interview with Germany’s conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) after seven minutes and 50 seconds.

The journalist, Michael Martens, had asked the opposition leader what he meant when he said in June 2012 that the ruling parties, New Democracy and PASOK, “had denigrated the Greek flag and handed it to Angela Merkel.”

Tsipras took offense at the question. He said he had “never” made that statement. The German newspaper, however, says there is evidence that he did. It referred to video footage shot by Greek television of a Syriza rally on June 14, 2012, in Athens, as well as a Syriza press release.

In past editorials, the conservative FAZ has criticized Tsipras and called for continuing austerity in Greece, even arguing in a May 2012 editorial that a Greek exit could have a “disciplining effect on other countries.”

Syriza’s party newspaper Avgi, in turn, has published cartoons showing Merkel taking orders from Adolf Hitler. It also recently described Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble as a “Gauleiter,” the term for a regional Nazi party leader. Such Nazi references in the Greek press and at anti-austerity rallies where Merkel has been portrayed in Nazi uniform have angered Germans.

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