MP said controversy over artists was not a reason for resigning as spokesperson for Diko
Diko Pavlos Mylonas MP said the cabinet decision to drop disciplinary proceedings against public school principal and controversial artist Giorgos Gavriel was not the reason for his resignation as party spokesman, but maintained that its position on the case remains contrary to that expressed by the party.
The Cabinet said on Wednesday that disciplinary proceedings against Gavriel would be dropped, amid wide condemnation of the government’s handling of the case. On the same day, Mylonas published his resignation letter – which actually dates back to June 16.
Speaking to Ant1 TV, he said his resignation came before the cross-party elections and that he would be replaced by Panicos Leonidou, who won with three votes to his two.
However, he explained, party leader Nicolas Papadopoulos asked him to stay in office until the end of the summer.
“The events just coincided,” he said, denying that the verdict on Gavriel had significantly influenced his decision.
Mylonas strongly opposed Diko’s official position that the charges against Gavriel must be dropped immediately, arguing that the case sends “utterly false, anti-democratic and anti-European messages to society at large.”
Rather, he argued that Gavriel’s works were “vulgarities” that reflected the political and ideological beliefs of the painter and director and offended religious institutions.
“I’m not an art critic so I won’t be concerned with the aesthetics of Mr. Gavriel’s work. I am a member of Parliament and what worries me is that he is a teacher and a school principal, ”he said.
Mylonas agreed with the argument that Gavriel’s repeated posting of his work, despite being asked to stop, was inconsistent with his position as director.
“Mr. Gavriel is an artist, yes, but he’s also an apparatchik,” Mylonas said, adding that Gavriel’s right to express his political inclination is respected “but he can do it in an art gallery” .
“We cannot allow our schools to become theaters of conflicting ideologies in the name of free speech,” he said.
At the end of June, Mylonas was chairman of the House education committee, which he cited as one of the reasons he will step down as spokesperson for Diko.
When asked if the committee will discuss Gavriel, Mylonas said there were bigger issues, namely infrastructure and technical issues that many schools face.
It is essential to focus on building new school units, modernizing existing units and solving all their problems to ensure the safety and well-being of children, he said.
“There is no time for divisive tips,” he said. “These are the questions that we will deal with, and leave the art to the artists”.