Kotzias Ought to be Ashamed


There are many signs that democracy in Greece is going through a difficult time.
That is asserted by the New Democracy, academics, judges, journalists, and others.
Unfortunately, it is the grim reality.
Freedom of the press, one of the institutions from which the undermining of democracy usually begins, is under attack, also.
Surprisingly, in this case, the underminer of the freedom of the press is none other than the country’s foreign minister. 
The great majority of the ministers are usually cultivated, knowledgeable, and with at least some international experience. Therefore, it is surprising that it is the foreign minister who is attempting  to shut down a monthly magazine – the Athens Review of Books, a Greek equivalent of the New York Review of Books – in order to silence it and scare others,
who might criticize or expose something about the minister.
But, is that not exactly the role of the press?
Freedom of the press is protected here in the United States – by the Constitution – as well as in other countries. Wisely, our Constitution does not protect a publisher for knowingly printing false accusations “with actual malice” against any person, even against a politician.
In this particular case, the magazine published a letter to the editor in which Kotzias was described as “the most extreme, fanatic, fierce, and relentless of ‘Knites’ (as in the KNE communist youth of Greece); a real Gauleiter of Stalinism.”
That Kotzias was a member of Greece’s communist party, KKE, is well-established beyond any doubt. Indeed, for a time when he was a member of the KKE’s Central Committee, he was in charge of propaganda. Why, then, was he bothered so much by the comments that he wants to shut down the magazine? As for referring to him as a Gauleiter, it was not meant in its original context (referring to the Nazi Party), but rather to portray him as a great supporter of communism, which he was.
The essence is that the foreign minister is using this pretext in an attempt to punish the magazine, basically for revealing some parts of his portfolio that are incorrect: for example, that he was a professor at Harvard and Oxford Universities.
Therefore, it is clear that Mr. Kotzias is making an example out of the magazine so as to force self-censorship on other media that criticize him as well.
This, of course, does not honor Greece: not its people and its government, and not Kotzias himself.
Apparently, he is envious of the “glory” achieved by Turkish President Erdogan’s government, which censors the media and has jailed hundreds of journalists.
All Greeks and Philhellenes – indeed, anyone who believes in democracy – should be concerned about this non-democratic mindset and act.
As we noted at the onset, there are already evident signs of undemocratic behavior by Greece’s ruling party. Whoever ignores the restriction of the basic liberties of a people by the authorities is treading where no one ought to tread.
Kotzias should be ashamed for what he did. And if the media in Greece are too scared to tell him that, we are not.
And we are thankful for that.