Greece in tizzy over name


The Citizen (Gauteng) - - WORLD -

Top min­is­ter re­signs over deal – prime min­is­ter calls for no-con­fi­dence vote.

Greek Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tspi­ras yes­ter­day called an “im­me­di­ate” no-con­fi­dence vote in par­lia­ment over the res­ig­na­tion of a top min­is­ter op­posed to the coun­try’s name change deal with Mace­do­nia.

“We will pro­ceed im­me­di­ately to the re­newal of the con­fi­dence in our gov­ern­ment by the par­lia­ment in or­der to pro­ceed with the ma­jor is­sues for our coun­try,” he said.

Tsipras yes­ter­day ac­cepted the res­ig­na­tion of De­fence Min­is­ter Panos Kam­menos, who is head of his main coali­tion ally in gov­ern­ment, the na­tion­al­ist In­de­pen­dent Greeks party (Anel).

The semi-of­fi­cial ANA news agency said the de­bate on a no-con­fi­dence vote could be­gin as early as to­mor­row and could be con­cluded by Thurs­day. Kam­menos said that he would vote against the gov­ern­ment as sup­port­ing it would im­ply back­ing for the name deal with Mace­do­nia.

The na­tion­al­ist Anel has sup­ported the Tsipras ad­min­is­tra­tion with its seven law­mak­ers and has six min­is­ters and ju­nior min­is­ters in the gov­ern­ment.

Kam­menos had threat­ened to pull out of the gov­ern­ment when the name deal comes to a vote in Athens from the mo­ment Tsipras signed it with Mace­do­nian Prime Min­is­ter Zo­ran Zaev in the bor­der Pre­spes re­gion in June. How­ever some of his Anel party’s MPs re­main am­biva­lent.

Mace­do­nian law­mak­ers voted late on Fri­day to re­name their coun­try the Repub­lic of North Mace­do­nia but the agree­ment now needs back­ing from the Greek par­lia­ment to come into ef­fect.

For the Greeks, Mace­do­nia is the name of a his­tory-rich north­ern prov­ince that was the cra­dle of Alexan­der the Great’s an­cient em­pire.

Greece has blocked its neigh­bour’s ac­ces­sion to Nato and the Euro­pean Union (EU) ever since Mace­do­nia broke away from the for­mer Yu­goslavia in 1991.

“We will do ev­ery­thing to block the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Pre­spes deal,” Kam­menos told a news con­fer­ence yes­ter­day after an­nounc­ing his res­ig­na­tion.

He charged that the agree­ment was “anti-con­sti­tu­tional” and called for a ref­er­en­dum on the is­sue to co­in­cide with EU elec­tions in May.

After meet­ing with Tsipras ear­lier yes­ter­day, Kam­menos said “the Mace­do­nia is­sue does not al­low me not to sac­ri­fice my post”.

Tsipras be­lieves the agree­ment can be rat­i­fied with the 145 law­mak­ers of his left­ist Syriza party plus the votes of the small pro-EU To Po­tami party as well as some ANEL law­mak­ers who dis­agree with Kam­menos’s po­si­tion.

The main op­po­si­tion New Democ­racy party is ve­he­mently against the agree­ment.

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