Cri­sis grows in Greece over Mace­do­nia name deal vote

As Mace­do­nia moves closer to of­fi­cially chang­ing its name, a cru­cial vote in the Greek Par­lia­ment has sparked a cri­sis, with the de­fense min­is­ter leav­ing the rul­ing coali­tion

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Regional -

of the up­com­ing par­lia­men­tary vote to end a decades-long dis­pute with Mace­do­nia, the head of the ju­nior part­ner in Greece’s rul­ing coali­tion an­nounced yes­ter­day his res­ig­na­tion from his post as de­fense min­is­ter.

Party chief of the In­de­pen­dent Greeks (ANEL) and the coun­try’s De­fense Min­is­ter Panos Kam­menos said his party would with­draw from the gov­ern­ment of “na­tional unity,” which he said had suc­cess­fully de­liv­ered the coun­try from the pe­riod of bailouts fol­low­ing the deep de­pres­sion in the Greek econ­omy after the 2008 global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

“On the is­sue of Mace­do­nia, I am not per­mit­ted to not sac­ri­fice the seat,” Kam­menos said in a state­ment fol­low­ing a 30-minute meet­ing with Prime Min­ster


Alexis Tsipras, adding that co­op­er­a­tion be­tween ANEL and Tsipras’ Coali­tion of the Rad­i­cal Left (SYRIZA) could not con­tinue on the “na­tional is­sue” of the Prespa Agree­ment with Skopje.

Kam­menos has ear­lier threat­ened to pull out of the gov­ern­ment when the deal comes to a vote, but some of his party’s MPs re­main am­biva­lent. ANEL is the ju­nior party in Greece’s rul­ing coali­tion and strongly op­poses the name change, a rift that threat­ens to desta­bi­lize the gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras, who helped bro­ker the deal.

Mace­do­nian law­mak­ers voted to re­name their coun­try the Repub­lic of North Mace­do­nia on Fri­day and the agree­ment now needs back­ing from the Greek Par­lia­ment to come into ef­fect. How­ever the pro­posal has been met with re­sis­tance by many in Greece, who ob­ject to its neigh­bor be­ing called Mace­do­nia be­cause it has its own north­ern prov­ince of the same name.

Ahead of the vote in Athens, two news web­sites al­leged that a prom­i­nent mem­ber of Greece’s main op­po­si­tion New Democ­racy party, which re­jects the name deal, called on its mem­bers to phone MPs of the ANEL party and urge them to vote against the agree­ment.

The New Democ­racy mem­ber al­legedly re­vealed the per­sonal mo­bile phone num­bers of ANEL MPs. Athens News Agency said the news re­ports prompted the pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the al­le­ga­tions. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ac­cord­ing to sources in the ju­di­ciary, is look­ing into whether per­sonal data pri­vacy was vi­o­lated as part of the probe.

Mace­do­nian Prime Min­is­ter Zo­ran Zaev on Satur­day called on Greece to rat­ify the deal. "Our par­lia­ment found the strength but it wasn't easy. But I am con­vinced that the Greek par­lia­ment will also find the strength to make the de­ci­sion," he said.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Mace­do­nia and Greece had re­cently picked up pace as the new gov­ern­ment in Skopje sought progress in its bid to join the two or­ga­ni­za­tions after decades of stalled U.N.-me­di­ated talks. The term "Mace­do­nia" harks back to the an­cient king­dom once ruled by Alexan­der. Greeks, who con­sider this one of the high points of their his­tory, see the use of the name by their north­ern neigh­bor as an at­tempt to usurp their his­tory.

Out­go­ing Greek De­fense Min­is­ter and leader of the mi­nor coali­tion party In­de­pen­dent Greeks Panos Kam­menos speaks dur­ing a news con­fer­ence after the an­nounce­ment of his res­ig­na­tion, Athens, Jan. 13, 2019.

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