An event devoted to internationally-acclaimed Greek director Costas Gavras in Paris was cancelled on Saturday evening after tension broke out at the venue, where the film "Z" was due to be screened with the director in attendance.
Just before the screening, upon the arrival of Greek government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos, a group of Greek students verbally attacked Pangalos and held banners saying "In Greece, just as in France, support for the undocumented migrants".
Pangalos invited the protestors to a meeting on Sunday for an open discussion, which was rejected, as was Gavras' call for a "democratic dialogue".
The tension increased, and Pangalos, Gavras, Greek ambassador in Paris Constantine Halastanis and Consul Katerina Koika, as well as the overwhelming majority of the audience, departed from the venue.
A statement issued in Athens on Sunday by Pangalos' office said that "there is no longer any doubt that Greek society is faced with an organised effort which, unfortunately, has political cover by parliamentary -- in other words, systemic -- political parties, to plunge it into violence and instability".
The statement commented on the "obstruction and, finally, cancellation" of the projection of Gavras' anti-dictatorship film "Z" by the "terrorist-like intervention of French anarchists and Greek proponents of SYRIZA at the Greek House in Paris' university campus".
According to the statement, the director and other persons involved in the film, who were at the venue and were due to be honored for the film, "were forced to leave, in protest of the incidents, and a large number of audience members with them, who were there to honor Costas Gavras, among them government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos, a close friend of the director and old resident of the Greek House".
"The claims of the anarchists and SYRIZA cadres that it was the (Greek) government's presence that incited them is totally false, since they themselves admitted on one of their blogs that they were not aware that the vice-president of the Greek government would be in attendance but --obviously wanting to take advantage of Costas Gavras' appeal in Greece and France -- had planned the forced prohibition of the screening of 'Z' and the projection, instead, of another film titled 'Paradise in the West' with an illegal migrant as the film's hero, in order to project the issue of the hunger-striking illegal immigrants in Athens," the statement said.
It charged that "the unprecedented disdain of the anti-dictatorship film 'Z' has deep political significance and shows once again that these forces have never accepted the parliamentary democracy which was earned by the Greek people with so much blood shed", and "also shows their perception of culture, art and the creators, reminding one of the worst eras of every form of authoritarian regimes when the creators were described as 'enemies of the people' or 'enemies of the nation' and censorship and persecutions reigned".
"This view, this insult they committed against Costas Gavras, is a clear-cut threat to freedom of expression," the statement added.
"How can democracy safeguard this freedom inside and outside university premises against the fascist perception of the anarchists and the followers of SYRIZA, who believe that they have the right, 'in the name of the people', to determine what events will take place and which speakers may speak, using all kinds of threats, insults and, above all, physical violence?" the statement asked.
It also asked whether it is possible that such an attitude towards Gavras and his film 'Z' is not clearly condemned by the political world in its entirety and by the intellectuals of Greece.
The statement further warned that what happened in Paris, and what happened in Berlin or will possibly occur in the future in London and Rome, "undermine the country's international image and its effort to exit from the crisis".
"Who wants Greece to sink into chaos?", the statement concluded.