Ten­sions linger in coali­tion

Kam­menos’s ef­forts to play down pro­posal for al­ter­na­tive to Pre­spes name deal fail to heal di­vi­sions

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Ten­sions be­tween the two coali­tion part­ners lin­gered yes­ter­day de­spite an at­tempt by In­de­pen­dent Greeks chief Panos Kam­menos to wa­ter down his con­tro­ver­sial pro­posal for an al­ter­na­tive plan to the Mace­do­nia name deal.

Kam­menos had pro­posed a Balkan de­fense agree­ment dur­ing a meet­ing at the US State De­part­ment on Tues­day with As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Euro­pean and Eurasian Af­fairs Wess Mitchell on Tues­day.

The leader of the ju­nior coali­tion part­ner in­sisted yes­ter­day, how­ever, that he did not dis­agree with the gov­ern­ment’s line, say­ing that he dis­cussed with “friends and al­lies an al­ter­na­tive, re­al­is­tic so­lu­tion.” He said he had no in­ten­tion of mak­ing de­ci­sions in­de­pen­dently of the gov­ern­ment.

Sources at Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tspi­ras’s of­fice took is­sue with the fact that Kam­menos uni­lat­er­ally took the ini­tia­tive to pro­pose an al­ter­na­tive deal while the name agree­ment with FYROM is in the process of rat­i­fi­ca­tion.

Fur­ther­more, his re­marks were seen as un­der­min­ing the gov­ern­ment’s aim of pro­mot­ing Greece’s role as a pil­lar of sta­bil­ity in the re­gion, par­tic­u­larly at a time of po­lit­i­cal up­heaval in FYROM, where Prime Min­is­ter Zo­ran Zaev is em­broiled in a do­mes­tic strug­gle to win sup­port for the name deal with Greece.

More­over, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials be­lieve that Kam­menos’s pro­posal is not aligned with Greece’s “na­tional strat­egy” as it al­lows FYROM to be­lieve that there is scope for al­ter­na­tives, even though the deal signed in the Pre­spes lake district in June stip­u­lates the key Greek de­mand that the Balkan na­tion change its name.

The rift in the coali­tion was fur­ther ag­gra­vated by the fact that Kam­menos, who ve­he­mently op­poses the agree­ment, went back on his deal with Tsipras not to rock the boat over the mat­ter un­til March.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, Tsipras will meet with Kam­menos upon his re­turn from the US on Sun­day.

Tsipras sought to put a hu­mor­ous spin to the lat­est cri­sis, telling re­porters yes­ter­day that there is “a hur­ri­cane in the US but it is not called Panos, it’s called Michael.”

Mean­while, op­po­si­tion New Democ­racy leader Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis said the up­heaval in the coali­tion is re­flect­ing badly on the coun­try.

“At a time when the main thing the coun­try needs is to re­store its cred­i­bil­ity in ev­ery area, the gov­ern­ment is com­ing across like a back­wa­ter theater troupe,” Mit­so­takis said in a state­ment on Twit­ter.

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