Greece's often venomous political landscape spilled over into a European Union setting on Tuesday during Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' address before a Euro-parliament plenary session in Strasbourg, when the latter first took umbrage to criticism by a conservative Spanish MEP.
Esteban González Pons, the vice-president of the European People's Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament, initiated the exchange when the charged that nepotism and clientelism plagued Greece, speaking after Tsipras' initial address.
"Don't look to us for nepotism and clientelism ... You should look for these in your own (political) grouping," he countered, saying nepotism is rife in the "right" - a not-so-veiled reference to main opposition New Democracy (ND) party and its president, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. ND is a member of the EPP political grouping at the European Parliament, while Mitsotakis is the son of late Greek prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis and the brother of former Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis.
The leftist Greek prime minister, speaking from the floor of the hemicycle Euro-parliament building during a sparely attended session, also attacked the main opposition party for its stance against a bilateral agreement - the "Prespes or Prespa Agreement - to resolve the fYRoM "name issue", charging that the reaction was an archetypical example of populism and opportunism.
At the same, Tsipras spoke of "targeted inaccuracies" in deflecting standing criticism that his government's first six months in power - when Yanis Varoufakis led disastrous negotiations with creditors from late January to June 2015 - cost Greece 100 billion euros in future losses.
"If, in fact, there was such a cost, then it would have increased the public debt ..." he said.
In a sharp reaction, a spokeswoman for ND charged that Tsipras used a European venue to attack his political rivals, exporting domestic political strife abroad.
"Instead of appearing as the prime minister, after the memorandum (ended), he was ready to attack Mitsotakis and ND," Maria Spyraki, who was also in the assembly as a serving MEP, said. In directly addressing Tsipras in an acrimonious exchange, Spyraki said nepotism is appointing relatives of ministers to state jobs, "unless you believe nepotism is being elected as the party leader (Mitsotakis) with hundreds of thousands of votes, and not members of families of your party's cadres, ones appointed to the government ...In truth, I'd like to ask you: From the opposition benches exactly what prospect will you offer Greece? Would that be divisiveness?" she said, insinuating that Tsipras and his poll-trailing SYRIZA party will lose next year's general election.
She also said the center-right party cannot accept that under the Prespes Agreement the neighboring country's residents will be called "Macedonians" and the dominant language "Macedonian".