Dark clouds gather over Pre­spes ac­cord

Coali­tion partner Kam­menos slams FYROM rhetoric as rem­i­nis­cent of Mus­solini, pro­nounces name deal dead

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The Pre­spes name deal be­tween Greece and the For­mer Yu­goslav Repub­lic of Mace­do­nia (FYROM) ap­peared to face fur­ther hur­dles af­ter junior coali­tion partner Panos Kam­menos pro­nounced the agree­ment dead.

Kam­menos, the leader of the In­de­pen­dent Greeks (ANEL) and a staunch op­po­nent of the deal, made his re­marks yesterday in the wake of re­cent ref­er­ences by FYROM Prime Minister Zo­ran Zaev to a “Mace­do­nian” iden­tity and lan­guage.

“Zaev’s lat­est com­ments have put an end to any dis­cus­sion con­cern­ing the sur­vival of the so-called Pre­spes deal,” Kam­menos said in a post on the na­tion­al­ist party’s web­site yesterday.

The com­ments by the ANEL leader, who is also Greece’s de­fense minister, were seen as a bla­tant vi­o­la­tion of a “mora­to­rium” with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, stip­u­lat­ing that the deal will not come be­tween them un­til it goes to the Greek Par­lia­ment for rat­i­fi­ca­tion in March.

Dur­ing a heated cab­i­net meet­ing in Oc­to­ber, Tsipras had said that he would not “tol­er­ate" a sit­u­a­tion where the gov­ern­ment did not speak with one voice.

But Kam­menos ap­peared to ig­nore Tsipras and went on to con­tra­dict the gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion with re­gard to FYROM’s in­duc­tion to NATO, say­ing it will never join due to its ir­re­den­tist rhetoric and “pro­pa­ganda” that re­calls 20th cen­tury dic­ta­tors.

“Skopje’s ir­re­den­tist and provoca­tive be­hav­ior shows the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity that not only is it un­pre­pared to be a part of in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, but also vin­di­cates all those who have in­sisted from the start on the cer­tainty that they are trapped in the pro­pa­ganda of [Ben­ito] Mus­solini and [Yu­goslav leader Josip Broz] Tito,” he added.

In a speech at Skopje Univer­sity on Thurs­day night, Zaev de­clared, “We are ‘Mace­do­nians’ who speak the ‘Mace­do­nian’ lan­guage and no one can deny it.”

But Kam­menos was not alone in his re­buke of FYROM’s rhetoric, as the cen­trist party To Po­tami, which has backed the deal, also ex­pressed con­cern yesterday over the “ir­re­den­tist na­ture” of state­ments em­a­nat­ing from Skopje.

The gov­ern­ment how­ever down­played con­cerns that the deal will not make it through Par­lia­ment, with its spokesper­son Dim­itris Tzanakopou­los in­sist­ing yesterday that it has enough law­mak­ers to back it.

Tzanakopou­los also ruled out spec­u­la­tion that ANEL may back a cen­sure mo­tion against the gov­ern­ment if it is brought to Par­lia­ment by New Democ­racy.

Speak­ing to 24/7 Ra­dio, Tzanakopou­los said that Kam­menos has vowed not to team up with ND or any other party in the Par­lia­ment “to over­throw the gov­ern­ment.”

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