Greek politician confirms attempts to block OCU recognition in the interests of Russia
Greek right-wing eurosceptic politician Panos Kammenos, closely associated with Russia, frankly admitted that before the decision of the Church of Greece to recognize the OCU was made, he exerted pressure on Archbishop Hieronymus, demanding not to allow it.
This is reported by the media Orthodox Times, according to a Facebook post of Archbishop Yevstratiy (Zorya).
Panos Kammenos, former Minister of National Defense of Greece and head of the right-wing eurosceptic party "Independent Greeks" (ANEL), made an unprecedented attack on the Archbishop and all members of the episcopate of the Greek Church on December 10, calling them no less than "criminals," Orthodox Times notes.
Speaking at an event organized by the "Institute for Geopolitical Studies" on geopolitical shifts in the Eastern Mediterranean, Panos Kammenos argued that if any Aegean island is "lost" in the next period, the Archbishop and the Synod will be to blame for recognizing the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and undermining the Union with Russia.
"If anything happens in the next few months, the Holy Synod will bear full responsibility for ending the guarantees provided by Russia because of the recognition of the illegal Church of Ukraine," Panos Kamenos said.
He added that "the Archbishop and the hierarchs of the Holy Synod committed a crime recognizing the illegal Church of Ukraine at the last meeting of the [Council of] hierarchs before the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Alexandria did so. Although I warned the Archbishop and the hierarchs, telling them that if Greece succumbs to pressure and is the first to recognize the Church of Ukraine, Russia will cancel guarantees regarding the occupation of any Greek island on the basis of agreements concluded with it."
The former Minister said that he "personally warned the Archbishop" and, in fact, is the first official who publicly confirmed that he tried in the interests of Russia to influence the Archbishop and the hierarchs of the Greek Church on the eve of the meeting of the Council of hierarchs.
Open sources indicate that as a junior partner in a coalition with the radical left SYRIZA party in the governments of Alexis Tsipras, and twice serving as the Minister of Defense, Mr. Kamenos has repeatedly expressed pro-Kremlin views.
In particular, in 2015, in an interview with "Gazeta.ru", he said: "The Greek population in Crimea was attacked by the fascist government of Ukraine, and the protection for Greek families there was the presence of Russian forces. <...> The Greek population in Crimea has always had close ties with the local Russian-speaking population. I discussed this issue with Patriarch Kirill yesterday - we have a common Church, we believe in the same values, and it was simply impossible not to protect the Greeks from the fascist government of Ukraine."
Kammenos and his party left the government coalition to protest Mr Tsipras's government's agreement on the name of Northern Macedonia, jeopardising its implementation. It is known that Russia has tried in every way to undermine the agreement, thereby wishing to prevent the rapprochement of this southern Balkan country with the EU and NATO.
In addition to party leadership, Mr. Kammenos also heads the self-created "Institute for Geopolitical Studies." In November 2014, the organization signed a "Memorandum of Mutual Understanding" with the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, until 2009, was part of the Russian Foreign intelligence Service (becoming in 1992 the successor of the Institute of intelligence First Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR), and then was transferred to the administration of the President of the Russian Federation.