Neo-nazi attack ‘won’t affect’ ties with Greece

Neo-nazi attack ‘won’t affect’ ties with Greece

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Neo-nazi attack ‘won’t affect’ ties with Greece

Golden Dawn party members attend a rally in Athens. Turkish consul general in Komotini İlhan Şener was attacked by the party’s supporters. REUTERS photo

The Turkish consul general to Komotini, İlhan Şener, said the recent attack on him by members of the neo-Nazi Greek party Golden Dawn will not break the friendship between the Turkish and Greek nations.

A group of nearly 30 protestors from Golden Dawn chanted slogans and waved Greek flags against Turkey outside the Kavala Municipality building and attacked Şener’s car while he was in a meeting with Kavala Mayor Kostas Simichis.

When asked about the official reactions to the incident, Şener said he had received good wishes “from Turkish and Greek authorities alike.”

“Such things will not break the friendship between Turkey and Greece. Our meeting with the Kavala Municipality was about this in the first place. We were trying to find ways to have more Turkish citizens come and visit here,” he said.

Şener said he was told by security forces that a crowd had gathered in front of the Kavala Municipality, but he chose to proceed with the meeting nonetheless.

“I told them it was their duty to ensure the security of the meeting,” Şener told the Hürriyet Daily News. “We were in the meeting for about an hour, during which we could hear the chanting outside,” he said, adding that the chanted slogans were mostly about modern Turkey’s founder [Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk.

“We could hear them all through the meeting. Things that I would not want to repeat right now,” Şener said, adding that the accompanying delegation had to stay within the building for over an hour because of the incident.

As Şener was leaving the site, a minor group managed to break through and reached his car.

“Four or five of them approached the car. They hit the windshield and kicked the car,” he said. Later, his group was able to leave the municipality under a police escort.

‘Attackers do not represent Kavala’

Such behavior in no way represents the Greek public, Şener told the Daily News. “These are a few Nazi sympathizers. They do not represent the Kavala Municipality, they do not represent the Greek public,” he said.

The security forces also acted in good faith, despite the incident, he added. While policemen are trained to handle large crowds in Turkey, the Kavala security forces “were not expecting such a crowd … I am certain that [the policemen] all had good intentions,” he added.

“Those who chanted swear words about Atatürk should know that he was the strongest supporter of amicable bilateral relations,” Şener added. “When Atatürk was nominated for a Nobel Peace Price in 1924, Greek leader Eleftherios Venizelos was the one who forwarded his name to the committee.”

Greece has recently seen a surge in neo-Nazi activity, with Golden Dawn winning an unprecedented 18 seats and 7 percent of the vote in the June 2012 parliamentary election.