Who is Panos Kammenos?



Panos Kammenos is the new Greek defense minister and the head of a party called ANEL, which is regularly referred to as “extreme right-wing” in the European and Greek press. To the extent that Kammenos was appointed to his job by Alexis Tsipras, whose party, Syriza, officially calls itself “far left,” it is of more than casual interest to find out what the two ostensible opposites of the political spectrum actually have in common. Luckily, there is no dearth of information on that score for both parties and their leaders. Kammenos, as numerous of his statements prove beyond much doubt, is anti-NATO, anti-EU, anti-IMF, passionately anti-Turkish and decidedly anti-Semitic. At the same time, he is pro-Russian, pro-Chinese and has argued for expanding Greek security arrangements “outside of NATO.” If there is a European politician Kammenos most closely resembles in his likes and dislikes, it is surely Mr. Putin.

How about Mr. Tsipras and Syriza, which are supposed to be the polar opposite of Kammenos? Well, they are anti-NATO, anti-IMF and anti-EU, except that they do not want Greece to leave it. Which Kammenos does not want either. They claim that they are not anti-Semitic, but only anti-Zionist and anti-Israel, whom they accuse of “criminal attacks and brutality against Palestinians,” in other words, anti-Semitism by other semantics. And similarly to Kammenos, Tsipras is pro-Russian and against Western sanctions on Putin. There are, thus, few differences between them, and both are firmly against the European status quo. And this is their big problem, for it is the European status quo and its subsidies that have allowed the Greeks to live beyond their means for decades, a fact that neither Kammenos nor Tsipras would acknowledge, even as they would like to see it continue.