ATHENS – Prime Minister Antonis Samaras ordered Deputy Education Minister Giorgos Stylios to step down after the official insulted a Communist Member of Parliament in a debate.
In a verbal clash with provocative lawmaker Liana Kanelli, Stylios said she was seeking to “turn me into Kasidiaris,” a reference to the spokesman for the extremist Golden Dawn party, Ilias Kasidiaris, who slapped her on live TV last year and for which he is facing prosecution.
Kanelli sparked the response with a question about child malnutrition in Greece and said his answer reminded her of Marie Antoinette’s phrase to “let them eat cake.”
Stylios, who was appointed just two months ago, later publicly apologized for his comments. “Tensions can lead to verbal exaggerations. Obviously I did not want to insult Ms. Kanelli and I apologize to her. The reference to Kassidiaris’ name and his behavior, which I condemn, was a mistake,” he said, but it was too late.
The major opposition SYRIZA party condemned Stylios’ comments. .
“The fact that government officials refer to Golden Dawn’s violence is a huge insult to Democracy,” the party said in a statement before Samaras called for Stylios’ resignation. It added that this kind of behavior could not be tolerated and no ‘apology’ could excuse it.