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New Greek health minister apologises for previous Holocaust remarks

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Thanos Plevris arrives at the Presidential Palace in Athens on Tuesday.
Thanos Plevris arrives at the Presidential Palace in Athens on Tuesday.   -   Copyright  Dimitris Kapadais/InTime News via AP

Greece’s new health minister has apologised for past remarks about the Holocaust.

The Greek Jewish Community had complained about comments made by Thanos Plevris when he was defending his far-right father in court.

Plevris reiterated on Wednesday he had "absolute respect" for Holocaust victims and reaffirmed his opposition to antisemitism.

The right-wing minister had been a defence lawyer for his father Constantinos Plevris when he was charged with incitement to racist hatred or violence over a 2009 book called "Jews: The Whole Truth".

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) expressed concern over Thanos Plevris' appointment to Greece's Cabinet on Tuesday and called on him to apologise for his remarks.

Greek MEP Stelios Kouloglou has also asked European Commissioner Margaritis Schinas to investigate whether Plervis represents the "European way of life".

In a statement on social media, Plevris said KIS’ objections to his court comments were "understandable". But the new minister added that he "fully disagrees" with his father’s views.

"I never wanted to insult the Jewish people, and I apologise if I did," Plevris said.

"I am certain that ... as health minister, I will leave not the slightest grounds for reservation for those who doubt my respect for the Holocaust, and they will see that under no circumstances do I harbor antisemitic sentiments.”

Plevris was appointed health minister during a government reshuffle in Athens on Tuesday.

He joined the governing centre-right New Democracy party in 2012 and before then was elected as a lawmaker with a small populist right party.

He has repeatedly said he rejects the political views of his father, who was eventually acquitted of any wrongdoing.