Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has set his priorities given the circumstances of pressure: the Church before the Politics. Thursday evening, the atheist prime minister rushed to a dinner with Archbishop Ieronymos II and briefed him on the latest developments on the Macedonia name dispute and the meetings of Special UN Envoy Matthew Nimetz with negotiators-representatives from Greece and Skopje in New York.
The gesture angered the main opposition, conservative New Democracy, a loyal supporter of the Church. ND has been thinking that the government should have briefed the political parties first and not the clergy.
In the meeting, Archbishop Ieronymos reportedly reassured the Prime Minister that the church opposes protest rallies and called for consensus, communication and national unity.
The Archdiocese issued a press release and said among others that during the meeting, the Archbishop said there is no need for protest rallies and expressed confidence in the government concerning the handling of this issue.
On his side, Tsipras reiterated his respect for the positions and concerns of the Greek Church on the issue and called on Ieronymos to promote an atmosphere of national unity and responsibility without vociferous reactions and pointless confrontations, according to the press release.
The prime minister also expressed an interest on the ecclesiastical element of the issue concerning the name of the Church in the neighbouring country and assured the Archbishop he will keep him informed about any developments.
On Friday, media report that Archbishop Ieronymos will visit the President of the Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos in the afternoon, claiming that he will brief the President on the developments of the Macedonia name negotiations.
One more reason for the main opposition to fume from both ears and the nose and accuses the government in general and the Prime Minister in particular of “secret diplomacy”.
Some ND-supporters like some prominent journalists now speak of “left-wing theocracy.”
But the Prime Minister had a good reason to pick the Church before politics. Several nationalist organizations have called for a Macedonia-rally in Thessaloniki on Sunday, Jan 21st 2018. And Tsipras wants to keep the number of protesters as low as possible. Despite the fact that several bishops support the rally and vehemently oppose that “Macedonia” is included in the new name of FYROM.
The official position of the Church of Greece is No to rallies, but bishops will support them. The official position of New Democracy to rallies is “we are a democratic party, every can attend if he wants.”
The Church has been upgraded on the issue, major opposition party is angry and in internal conflict with the Church and the Prime Minister sits back relaxed and waits to see what happens.
Not long time ago, in fact on Jan 11, government sources compared the Church of Greece with neo-nazi Golden Dawn on the Macedonia issue.
PS One more Greek paradox. Who wonders?
Meanwhile, Tsipras union partner, leader of nationalist Independent Greeks and defense Minister, Panos Kammenos, visited Mt Athos to attend the celebrations of Belssing the Waters with the monk brothers.
One should not exclude one or two words of Macedonia issue as the monks have influence also on the mortals outside the isolated monks’ republic.