Greek parliament to recognise Palestine amid opposition concerns

Alexis Tsipras with Nikos Kotzias and Mahmoud Abbas [Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Flickr]

The Syriza-led Greek parliament will vote on 22 December to recognise the Palestinian state, triggering nervous reactions among centre-right opposition parties. EURACTIV Greece reports.

As EURACTIV Greece reported last April, the Syriza-led government is committed to recognising Palestine.

>>Read: Syriza supports recognising Palestine

In the EU, Sweden unilaterally recognised the Palestinian state in October 2014, while similar, non-binding votes have taken place in the parliaments of France, the UK, Ireland and Spain.

In Greece, the recognition of Palestine will also take place in parliament. But the Greek government has decided not to take a stance for now, in order “not to damage the good relations with Israel”, according to press reports in Athens.

Nikos Kotzias, Greece’s foreign minister, refuted claims that Greece’s position was ambiguous, saying Athens supports the creation of a Palestinian state without reservations. The recognition of Palestine is “part of the multidimensional foreign policy” the Greek government has decided to follow, he said.

“We maintain our fraternal relations with the brother Palestinian people, and the Greek parliament will soon recognise Palestine,” Kotzias stressed, adding that he signed a decision according to which the Greek government is committed to naming the country “single and everywhere” as Palestine.

He added that Athens would welcome “with pleasure” Palestine’s President, Mahmoud Abbas, on 21 December.

“I know that many have a problem with our multidimensional foreign policy. Once we met the Americans they called us pro-Americans. When we went to Moscow they called us pro-Russians […] The truth is simple: We defend everywhere and always the values and interests of the country. Everywhere, without exception.”

Concerns in New Democracy

The main opposition right-wing party, New Democracy, which is currently focused on the upcoming party elections (20 December), expressed concerns about the move to recognise Palestine.

A New Democracy source told EURACTIV Greece there was no reason for Athens to recognise Palestine “now”, saying the issue “is not urgent”.

“[Alexis Tsipras] is willing to deal with a complicated matter that has been unresolved for years. What will he gain? To provoke Israel?” the source asked.

“When in trouble, one should build up alliances and not create enemies,” the source added, saying New Democracy will most probably abstain from the upcoming vote in the Greek parliament.

Greece recognised Israel “de jure” in 1990 under the New Democracy government of Konstantinos Mitsotakis. Antonis Samaras, the former Greek Prime Minister and leader of New Democracy, was foreign minister at the time.

  • 22 December: Vote on the recognition of Palestine in the Greek parliament

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