A British Conservative MEP has condemned apparently antisemitic comments made by the leader of a group which partners the Labour Party in the European Parliament.
Evangelos Venizelos, a former Greek finance minister and leader of the socialist Pasok party, made the remarks to a parliamentary committee in Athens last week.
Discussing a list of Greek citizens who might have Swiss bank accounts, Mr Venizelos reportedly said he had “the unpleasant impression that three of the names are of Greek Jewish origin”.
Pasok sit in the European Socialists (PES) bloc, alongside British Labour MEPs.
Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis said: “These disgusting comments reflect the worst sort of base politics. Ed Miliband and Labour MEPs should condemn these vile remarks immediately.”
But a Jewish Pasok spokesman, Elias Vergitsis, said Mr Venizelos had been smeared by “misleading blogs in Greece”. In fact, he said, the politician had expressed dismay about being given a page from the list which contained Jewish names. He said: “Mr Venizelos needs no credentials to prove his pro-Jewish politics in Greece.”
The controversy comes as Conservatives attempt to deflect attention from their own European partners following David Cameron’s decision in 2009 to move the party into the European Conservatives and Reformists bloc, which contains controversial East European parties with links to the far-right.