The Greek government today retracted its support of the European Community's communique on Poland after Premier Andreas Papandreou fired his deputy foreign minister for "failing to obey instructions" at the Brussels meeting yesterday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Asimakis Fotilas, 50, whose career--like Papandreou's--has been devoted to the Greek democratic left--represented Greece at the community's foreign ministers' meeting that denounced Soviet "pressure" on Poland.
Fotilas was standing in for Foreign Minister Ioannis Charalambopoulos, who stayed in Athens to participate in a reshuffle of the armed forces leadership. Papandreou sacked Fotilas last night.
Today, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "The communique...does not bind the Greek government despite its having been signed by Mr. Fotilas. It was precisely the reason that he was dismissed--because he failed to obey the orders given to him."
The 10-nation Common Market, while failing to impose its own sanctions against Poland or the Soviet Union, agreed not to undermine the U.S. measures against the Soviet Union.
The communique also accused the Soviets and other Eastern Bloc countries of adversely influencing the situation in Poland, and warned of a more rigorous community reaction if what it described as human-rights violations in Poland continued. The strong language is in marked contrast to that used in Greece's official reaction to the Polish events.
In a statement Dec. 18, five days after the military crackdown, the Athens government expressed "deep sorrow" over what it described as "the emergency measures" taken there, and called on all countries that signed the 1975 Helsinki accords to "refrain from any form of interference in the internal affairs of Poland."
Observers attribute the Greek caution to a desire not to aggravate the Soviet Union, a Helsinki signatory, whose stand would be crucial in any Greek recourse to the United Nations or to an international conference over the Cyprus issue. Resolving the Cyprus problem is a high priority of the Papandreou government.
Greek Socialists also argue that the West is adopting a double standard in criticizing severely events such as military repression in Poland and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, while, they say, ignoring the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus.
Last month, Fotilas was blamed for Greece having abstained on a U.N. vote judged embarrassing to the generally pro-Palestinian position here.
The Fotilas sacking came on the heels of yesterday's reshuffle in which all four chiefs of staff were replaced. Observers judge the move to be a clearing of the way for changes in the lower ranks of the Army leadership.