The pull out of the Democratic Left from the Greek Government coalition on Friday, led to the remaining members, PASOK and New Democracy forming a government alone. With the Democratic Left holding a number of ministerial positions, a cabinet reshuffle was inevitable. One appointment, of Adonis Georgiades, in a senior position, as Health Minister of a country where ill-health is rocketing, hospitals are running out of supplies and drug companies are now refusing to supply pharmacies with critical drugs, gives great cause for concern.
Now you might think that in a country facing the kind of health crisis that Greece faces, with HIV up 200% in a year and a return of malaria, as both the needle exchanges and the mosquito spraying programmes have been casualties of the cuts; where critical drugs are in short supply, including drugs for arthritis, hepatitis C and hypertension, cholesterol-lowering agents, together with anti-psychotics, antibiotics, anaesthetics as drug companies are refusing to supply the country over unpaid bills; where the Red Cross is limiting the supply of donor blood to Greece, also over outstanding debts and where the cuts in hospitals are so deep that basic hygiene supplies, such as gown, surgical gloves and even cleaning fluid are in short supply, might have chosen a Health Minister who knew a little about medicine. But no, they chose a book salesman.
And you might think that in a country facing the kind of fascist threat the Greece faces, with the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party conducting raids on hospitals demanding to see the papers of patients and workers alike, demanding the establishment of a Greek only blood donation service, and who threaten doctors from NGOs, who have stepped in to catch some of those falling through the healthcare net, while they establish their own “Doctors with Borders” service to treat ethnic Greeks only, might have chosen a Health minister who understood the dangers of fascism. But no, they chose a sympathiser.
Meet Adonis Georgiades
Georgiades has already been pelted with eggs and oranges then yoghurt and mustard in previous years, as people made clear their feeling about his views. But perhaps a little rundown of what these views are in light of his new appointment are in order.
On Jewish Persecution
As I’ve said before, I always regarded anti-semitism as a kind of “old fashioned” form of racism. Born well after the Second European War, the anti-semitism that led to the demonisation and persecution of Jewish people in the middle of the last century, seemed to be long gone – replaced by racism based on skin tone. But its back. Earlier this month, Ilias Kasidiaris, a Golden Dawn MP, openly made a statement in the Hellenic Parliament announcing that he did not accept the existance of the holocaust. The Central Board of Jewish Communities moved quickly to condemn this, stating
Holocaust denial constitutes a promotion for repeating the most hideous crime against humanity. Consequently Holocaust deniers cannot be members of the Parliament in a democratic country in Europe.
Statement of Central Board of Jewish Communities
However Adonis Georgiades shares those sympathies. Not only did he stock in his bookshop “Jews: the whole truth” by the notorious anti-semite and holocaust denier, Kostas Plevris, he even went so far as to promote it on his television show. There are now not only holocaust deniers in the Hellenic Parliament but at the heart of the government itself.
On State Repression
On the 16th of June, as Turkey was consumed by uprising and the response of the Turkish state was gathering international condemnation as deaths and severe injuries caused by the authorities using teargas, beatings and water cannons to suppress the population was growing. Georgiades mused that perhaps Erogan had the right idea. In a tweet, he muttered his approval for the response of the Turkish Government, suggesting that Greece should follow its lead
We should become like Erdogan. Look the way he cleaned up the square. Enough with the left fascists….
Tweet from Adonis Georgiades (translated from Greek)
The tweet was deleted within half an hour, but twitter gives an insight into a stream of conciousness, and its not a pretty sight. The priority for a Health Minister should be to promote the health of the population rather than support the kind of state repression which leaves them injured.
As a migrant, obtaining medical care is a significant challenge. In addition to the fascists combing the hospitals for migrant patients, any non-emergency medical treatment requires authorisation from the Greek Police. On the 10th of June, while giving a radio interview Georgiades stated
One of our goals has to be that [refugees] must understand that they are not welcome in Greece. One of the ways to convince them that they are not welcome is the frequent arrests. Let’s make their lives more difficult to understand that it’s time to take the plane and go.
Statement on Migration from Adonis Georgiades
Demonstrating that he recognises that the ongoing sweeps taking place under Operation Zeus are purely a harrassment method to intimidate refugees to leave the country. With those kind of views it is unlikely that he will support the needs and rights under international law of migrants who need healthcare.
On the ERT Shutdown
The unconsititutional shutdown of the Greek statebroadcaster, ERT which led to the pullout of the Democratic Left, which led to the cabinet reshuffle, which led to the appointment of Georgiades, was a travesty of democracy. A law passed in the morning which declared that the Government could shut down state run services without recourse to parliament saw the service taken taken off the air less then 24 hours later with a loss of nearly 3,000 jobs. In a statement he defended the shutdown announcing that ERT was shut down because it was opposing the government. A telling statement about the lack of press freedom sees anyone who tries to expose what is actually going on in Greece to harrassment and the risk of prosecution to the extent that Greeks do not know what is going on in their own country, such is the level of propaganda and misinformation being spewed out through the mainstream channels.
He also went on, in the same statement, to lie that ERT was shutdown because the employees were on strike. Apart from the barefaced nature of this lie, as viewers watched the screen suddenly go dark in the middle of broadcasting as the government pulled the plug on the transmitters, it also demonstrates his attitude towards trade union rights, in a country where transport workers and teachers have been hit with civil mobilisation orders which threaten them with up to four years in gaol should they go on strike.
After ERT, it seem like Greek hospitals are next in the firing line. Closures are expected from mid-summer onwards as the Greek government seeks to fulfill the Troika demand to sack 15,000 public workers.
Greece: This is your new Health Minister!