Greece’s new health minister apologised Wednesday for past remarks that the Jewish community had taken strong issue with and avowed his “absolute respect” for Holocaust victims and his opposition to antisemitism.
Athanassios Plevris statement on social media came hours after the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece – which uses the Greek acronym KIS – expressed concern over his Cabinet appointment on Tuesday.
A KIS statement had summoned Plevris to apologize for remarks he made as a defence lawyer in a 2009 court case against his extreme far-right father, Constantinos Plevris, who was charged with incitement to racist hatred or violence over a book called “Jews: The Whole Truth.”
KIS quoted the health minister as having said then, commenting on a reference to the Nazi Auschwitz death camp: “What incitement is this? Is it that one is not allowed to believe and want to believe that `I want to exterminate someone?´”
Plevris said Wednesday that KIS’ objections to his court comments were “understandable” and that he “fully disagrees” with his father’s views.
“But I never wanted to insult the Jewish people, and I apologize if I did,” the 44-year-old lawyer 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 harbour antisemitic sentiments.”