Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party has been temporarily banned from parliamentary proceedings after one of its MPs called for the military to overthrow the government.
The controversial comments came during a debate on a no-confidence motion against the SYRIZA-led government, which has come under attack after striking a deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to settle a long-running dispute over that country’s name.
“I call on the country’s military leadership to respect its oath: to arrest Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, (defence minister) Panos Kammenos and (President) Prokopis Pavlopoulos in order to prevent this treason!” Constantinos Barbarousis said. “Your heads in Prespes!”
Greece was under military rule from 1967 to 1974. Prespes is the town where the deal is expected to be signed, and what was seen as a call for the politicians’ heads to roll caused uproar among MPs.
Parliament’s Speaker Nikos Voutsis called the claims an “open call for a coup”, accusing the fascist party of deliberately trying to incite violence in the days running up to the anticipated signature by Athens and Skopje.
Voutsis called an emergency meeting of the Greek parliament’s presidents and banned Golden Dawn from all sessions relating to the no-confidence motion.
Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, one of those cited by Barbarousis, has called for all the party’s MPs to have their parliamentary immunity lifted and be prosecuted.
The no-confidence motion was brought by the main opposition New Democracy Party, which says the accord is the last straw for Greeks who have suffered years of austerity. The parliamentary debate is due to be followed by a vote on Saturday.
The deal with Skopje has sparked anger and prompted protests. SYRIZA’s coalition allies, the Independent Greeks, say they won’t support it but will not topple the government either.
Alexis Tsipras reached an agreement with FYROM’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Tuesday, to rename the ex-Yugoslav country the “Republic of North Macedonia”. Both leaders have been accused in their home countries of “national capitulation”.
Athens has long objected to its northern neighbour’s use of the name “Macedonia”, saying it implies territorial claims on a northern Greek province of the same name.
Tsipras’ governing left-right coalition has 154 seats in the 300-member parliament. The censure motion is the first against the government since the prime minister took office in 2015.