A German politician of Greek descent said he will quit German politics because of the country’s negative attitudes toward his fellow Greeks and the policies Berlin has undertaken with respect to the euro zone economic crisis.
Giorgos Chatzimarkakis, MEP, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's junior coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party (FDP), said he will not contest his seat in next year’s European Parliament election for any German party.
"The moment I feel more Greek than German, I can't be an authentic politician in Germany," he said, according to EnetEnglish, a Greek news source.
"My mind, my spirit, won’t allow me.”
Chatzimarkakis claims that German lawmakers hold negative stereotypes about Greek people (as well as Cypriots) and that this has influenced their foreign policy behavior.
FDP members, he said, have spread "extreme" ideas about Germany’s policy toward Greece, including an alleged demand that the Greeks should sell their isles and the Acropolis to reduce their massive debts.
"They were so extreme that I couldn't go to the [FDP] party's convention," he noted.
He also told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA): "It's difficult to work with people who started a campaign against Greece. … It's very difficult to push through messages that don't fit stereotypes -- such as that Greeks work very hard, even more than Germans. That doesn't enter the Germans' minds. They want the lazy Greek as a stereotype, Cypriots as gangsters, country and people who must be punished."
A week prior to his latest statement, Chatzimarkakis complained to the Famagusta Gazette of Cyprus that powerful officials in western Europe castigate Cypriots as criminals and as being prone to violence.
Indeed, Greeks, who are suffering under an unprecedented wave of austerity measures and a paralyzing recession, have blamed Germany and especially Chancellor Merkel for unfairly punishing Greece. Merkel has frequently been depicted by angry Greek protesters as a Nazi, a not so subtle reference to Germany’s brutal occupation of Greece during the Third Reich era.
According to European Voice, Chatzimarkakis was born in Germany and was first elected to the European Parliament in 2004. He had a strong reputation as a defender of Germany’s auto industry during negotiations on greenhouse-gas emissions.
However, while his complaints about the attitude of Germany toward his countrymen may be somewhat legitimate, Chatzimarkakis might have another reason for quitting politics.
In July 2011, the University of Bonn determined that he plagiarized much of his doctoral thesis and revoked his PhD degree.
Chatzimarkakis is one of at least seven German politicians, including former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who have suffered a similar embarrassing fate.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.