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AJC Shocked by Greek Official's Meeting with Golden Dawn

NEW YORK, April 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The resignation of Takis Baltakos, chief of staff to Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, was entirely warranted, following the revelation of his meeting with a senior official of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn.

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"What Mr. Baltakos did is an affront to Prime Minister Samaras and to the vast majority of the Greek people," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Meeting with Golden Dawn is shocking enough by itself, but expressing sympathy for the party -- or, in reality, the criminal organization, as the government has declared -- is beyond belief."

In the video, Baltakos tells Ilias Kasidiaris, a Golden Dawn Member of Parliament, that the prime minister initiated the investigation against Golden Dawn for political gain. In what appears to be a friendly conversation, Baltakos refers to Samaras's vow "to deracinate" Golden Dawn when he spoke at AJC in New York last September.

"The video is damning," said Harris.

In a radio interview the day after he resigned, Baltakos said, "There may be more videos and I may have said more things," the Greek newspaper Katthimerini reported.

"This incident must have been a real shock for Prime Minister Samaras, who has shown such strong moral and political leadership in confronting Golden Dawn," said Harris. "At the same time, we are encouraged that the prime minister and Greece's judicial and legislative bodies will continue to pursue Golden Dawn, whose racism and xenophobia threaten democratic Greece."

Six Golden Dawn MPs, including the party's founder, have been imprisoned pending trial on charges of operating a criminal organization. Last week, the Greek Parliament lifted the immunity of another five MPs from the party. Orchestrating attacks against immigrants, gays and political opponents are among the allegations brought against Golden Dawn's leaders.

AJC has been visiting Greece regularly for over three decades, cooperates closely with Hellenic-American groups, and has an association agreement with KIS, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece.

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SOURCE American Jewish Committee

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