Tsipras calls for con­fi­dence vote

Bal­lot to be held this week after ju­nior coali­tion part­ner Kam­menos quits gov­ern­ment over Pre­spes deal

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Prompt­ing a cy­cle of fresh po­lit­i­cal up­heaval, Greek Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras said yes­ter­day that he would call a con­fi­dence vote in his gov­ern­ment this week after his coali­tion part­ner Panos Kam­menos said he was quit­ting the gov­ern­ment due to his ob­jec­tions to the Pre­spes deal be­tween Greece and the For­mer Yu­goslav Repub­lic of Mace­do­nia over the lat­ter’s name.

“For al­most four years I had an honor­able co­op­er­a­tion with Panos Kam­menos,” Tsipras told re­porters after his talks with the leader of na­tion­al­ist right-wing In­de­pen­dent Greeks (ANEL), whom he thanked for his “ir­re­place­able, im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion” to the gov­ern­ment. Tsipras said he had asked the Par­lia­ment speaker to start the process “im­me­di­ately” for a vote of con­fi­dence. The vote was ex­pected to take place on Wed­nes­day night in line with a pro­posal by Par­lia­ment Speaker Nikos Vout­sis.

Tsipras also an­nounced that he will re­place Kam­menos in his ca­pac­ity as de­fense min­is­ter with Ad­mi­ral Evan­ge­los Apos­to­lakis, chief of the Hel­lenic Na­tional De­fense Gen­eral Staff.

The premier’s com­ments came after Kam­menos told re­porters he was quit­ting the coali­tion. “The is­sue of Mace­do­nia does not al­low me not to sac­ri­fice the of­fice,” he said. “ANEL is leav­ing the gov­ern­ment,” he added, though the stance of his min­is­ters and MPs re­mained un­clear.

At a press con­fer­ence later, Kam­menos said he would vote against the gov­ern­ment in the con­fi­dence mo­tion. He added that any ANEL min­is­ters who in­sist on re­tain­ing their cab­i­net po­si­tions would be ex­pelled from the party. The ANEL leader also called for a ref­er­en­dum on the name deal, which he de­scribed as “a ca­pit­u­la­tion.”

Groups op­pos­ing the deal have called for a protest out­side Par­lia­ment for Jan­uary 20.

The con­ser­va­tive op­po­si­tion party New Democ­racy, which is lead­ing left­ist SYRIZA in opin­ion polls by a large mar­gin and also strongly op­poses the deal, de­scribed Kam­menos’s de­par­ture from the gov­ern­ment as a “staged divorce, a show aimed at rat­i­fy­ing the Pre­spes deal, keep­ing SYRIZA in power and keep­ing Kam­menos and his MPs in their posts.”

The Pre­spes deal, which passed through Skopje’s Par­lia­ment on Fri­day, must also gain ap­proval in Greece’s Par­lia­ment to be valid. Tsipras said in an in­ter­view last week that it would take place this month.

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