Greek defense minister quits over Macedonia name deal, coalition in doubt
ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece’s right-wing defense minister resigned on Sunday in protest at a deal finishing a protracted working dispute with Macedonia over its name, clouding the way forward for the coalition govt months sooner than nationwide elections.
Greek Defense Minister and coalition spouse Panos Kammenos exits the Maximos Mansion following a gathering with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens, Greece, January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Panos Kammenos, whose Independent Greeks birthday party props up the federal government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, has lengthy adversarial the accord with neighboring Macedonia signed via their governments final yr.
“The Macedonia name issue… doesn’t allow me not to sacrifice the minister’s chair,” Kammenos mentioned after assembly Tsipras on Sunday morning. He mentioned he would additionally pull six different ministers from his birthday party out of the federal government.
The have an effect on of the resignation at the governing coalition was once now not in an instant transparent. Parliamentary elections are due in Greece via October. Tsipras’s coalition has 153 seats in the 300-strong parliament, 145 of them from his leftist Syriza birthday party.
Kammenos, who cast a coalition pact with Tsipras in 2015, by no means hid his hostility to the take care of Skopje, which renames the tiny Balkan nation Republic of North Macedonia.
Greece has a province known as Macedonia and lengthy demanded Skopje exchange its nation name to take away what Athens regarded as to be an implied declare to Greek sovereign territory.
Macedonia’s aspirations to European Union and NATO ties were blocked via Greece over the name dispute.
Kammenos has known as the accord a countrywide sell-out and had again and again threatened to go away if it got here sooner than the Greek parliament for ratification – anticipated later this month.
Kammenos mentioned any deal together with “Macedonia” in the name of the Balkan state to Greece’s north was once unacceptable because the name was once irrevocably tied to Greek civilization and tradition.
The major opposition, conservative New Democracy birthday party, which is main pre-election polls, has mentioned it’ll block the deal. The govt hopes, then again, that the pact will nonetheless move with the reinforce of center-left and impartial lawmakers.
Macedonia’s parliament ratified the deal via passing an modification to the charter on Friday.
The two international locations struck the deal at the new name in June final yr, however Macedonia will get started the usage of it handiest after the parliament in Athens additionally approves the exchange.
A dispute over the topic brought on the resignation of Greece’s overseas minister, Nikos Kotzias, in October. Kotzias was once an architect of the accord however left as a result of he really feel insufficiently supported via Tsipras in clashes with Kammenos.
Reporting via Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou; Editing via Mark Heinrich