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Possibility of banning Golden Dawn dismissed

In reply to Council of Europe report, government says remains a 'marginal phenomenon'

Government claims that Golden Dawn's electoral support has nothing to do with racist ideology but is 'basically an expression of popular disappointment and protest' at austerity

Golden Dawn members stand around a stage during a rally in Athens, 2 February 2013 (Reuters) Golden Dawn members stand around a stage during a rally in Athens, 2 February 2013 (Reuters) The government has poured cold water on a suggestion that it could ban Golden Dawn, after the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner said it may have to consider the possibility.

In its written response to Nils Muižnieks' report on the situation in Greece, the government said its "handling of the extremist organisation mentioned in the report … is a complexity in itself for obvious reasons related to the function of a democratic party".

Without referring to Golden Dawn by name, which Muižnieks calls a "neo-Nazi" party, the government said "solutions cannot be the products of emotional responses which could backfire or bring about unwanted results".

It said that "prudence", informed by conventional political and democratic wisdom, the Greek constitutional order and parliamentary rules, could deal with the party.

"This is what almost the entirety of the political spectrum in Greece wishes and has embarked upon," the government response said.

The nine-page reply from government was published by the Council of Europe on Tuesday. The document is not signed and gives no indication from which ministry it emanated.

Golden Dawn's parliamentary support is not an indication of a rise of racism in society or "any kind of political or social adherence or attachment to racist ideologies", added the government in the reply.

"The parliamentary strength given to this organisation is basically an expression of popular disappointment and protest against harsh, albeit inevitable, austerity measures, as well as increasing unemployment following consecutive years of economic recession."

Racist attitudes remain a marginal phenomenon in Greek society ... Its culture of hospitality and openness remains strong and vivid

It said it shared the concern at the "considerable increase in racist attacks" but insisted that "racist attitudes remain a marginal phenomenon in Greek society".

"Its culture of hospitality and openness remains strong and vivid," it said.

Defends Samaras' and Dendias' comments

The report devoted a substantial paragraph to Muižnieks' observation that particular statements by political parties and politicians concerning migrants had served to stigmatise them further.

It said that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias had "never expressed views implying a racist or xenophobic attitude to migrants".

It maintained that words or phrases taken out of context risked producing "false impressions".

Specifically, it said that when Samaras referred to the "recuperation" of the city centre from "illegal migrants", he was expressing the government's will to enforce the rule of law.

Similarly, Dendias' use of the terms "invasion" or "bomb" to describe the presence of "huge presents of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in the country" was simply a "dramatic depiction of the country's reality", the report added.

It said it was "pleased" that Muižnieks commended the establishment of the race crime units in the police and an antiracism prosecutor, as well as the reform of the asylum system.

Muižnieks' recommendations, it added, in it would be "thoroughly and carefully considered" by the competent authorities.
 

Comments of the Government of Greece on the Report of the Commissioner for Human Rights

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