Some Brief Notes on Panos Kammenos

From the Guardian:

Syriza just missed out on the 151 MPs it needed to govern alone after Greece’s election, winning 149 seats with a 36.3% share of the vote. The party has formed a coalition government with Independent Greeks [var. Independent Hellenes – RB], who took 13 seats.

…The two parties have vastly diverging world views, standing well apart on issues such as illegal migration, Greece’s ever-fractious relationship with Nato rival Turkey, gay marriage and the role of the Greek Orthodox church.

Under their leader Panos Kammenos, who defected from the centre-right New Democracy party to form Anel at the height of the crisis in February 2012, the group has proved to be rabidly nationalistic in foreign affairs.

The election result has brought renewed interest in Kammenos, who was embroiled in controversy in December for opining that “Jews, along with Buddhists and Muslims ‘are not taxed’ in Greece”; however, the context seems to have been that he was accusing the Government of taxing the Orthodox Church unfairly, rather than suggesting that Jews have special treatment, or are tax-dodgers.

A few other points of interest:

1. In 2011, Kammenos described himself as an Old Calendrist (“??? ????? ??????????????????”), meaning that he belongs to a minority Orthodox group that rejects the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar. He made the comment during a radio interview as evidence that he does not have links with Ephraim, the controversial Abbot of the Vatopedi monastery of Mount Athos.

2. In 2012, he reportedly visited Mount Athos without obtaining permission first, travelling by private boat. According to the story, he visited the Esphigmenou Monastery, which sits apart from other monasteries on Athos; rebel monks occupy the site in opposition to “closer ties between the Orthodox Church and the Vatican.”

3. The 2012, the Economist described Kammenos as “hoping to replace Abbot Ephraim as Russia’s best friend in Greece.”

4. Kammenos also has links with Lyndon LaRouche; in December 2013 he travelled to Washington, where he “organized on Capitol Hill, alongside LaRouchePAC for the implementation of an international Glass-Steagall”. More recently, he spoke on “Greece and the Silk Road Economic Belt” at a conference organized by the Schiller Institute, which is part of LaRouche’s network. China’s “New Silk Road development program” seems to be of some special interest to LaRouche, and it is referenced in a LaRouchePac petition that accuses the US and Europe of supporting a “Nazi coup” in Ukraine and pursuing “suicidal geopolitical policies of the past which led to the two previous World Wars”.

As I noted a couple of days ago, LaRouchePac boasts that it so far has more than 200 “prominent signers”; Kammenos is among them, along with his “Diplomatic advisor” Lefteris Karayannis.