Greek PM faces con­fi­dence vote after min­is­ter quits

Belleville News-Democrat - - Local - BY DEMETRIS NELLAS

Greek Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras said Sun­day he will ask for a vote of con­fi­dence in Par­lia­ment this week after the coun­try's de­fense min­is­ter, who leads the coali­tion gov­ern­ment's ju­nior party, re­signed over the Mace­do­nia name deal.

Panos Kam­menos an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion and said his right-wing In­de­pen­dent Greeks party is quit­ting the gov­ern­ment after meet­ing with Tsipras on Sun­day morn­ing.

Tsipras ap­peared con­fi­dent when speak­ing to the press Sun­day that he would be able to find the needed 151 votes and sur­vive both the con­fi­dence vote and the Mace­do­nia name change vote, since the group led by Kam­menos had only seven seats.

Tsipras said he had a “frank dis­cus­sion” with Kam­menos, whom he thanked for his gov­ern­ment part­ner­ship, and an­nounced that Ad­mi­ral Evan­ge­los Apos­to­lakis, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be­come the coun­try's new de­fense min­is­ter.

Greece and Mace­do­nia agreed last June to a deal that would change the name of Greece's north­ern neigh­bor to North Mace­do­nia. In ex­change, Greece would lift its ob­jec­tions to the coun­try join­ing NATO.

The deal ended a dis­pute that had been go­ing on since the early 1990s but it is op­posed by con­ser­va­tives like Kam­menos, who feel that Tsipras gave away too many con­ces­sions.

Mace­do­nia's par­lia­ment rat­i­fied the deal on Fri­day. Now Tsipras needs only a ma­jor­ity in the 300-seat Greek par­lia­ment to rat­ify the ac­cord.

Tsipras al­ready has the back­ing of his 145-strong Syriza par­lia­men­tary group.

The prime min­is­ter also seems as­sured of the sup­port of two, and pos­si­bly three, In­de­pen­dent Greeks, an in­de­pen­dent con­ser­va­tive, at least two and up to four law­mak­ers from cen­trist party To Po­tami, an in­de­pen­dent so­cial­ist and pos­si­bly one law­maker from the small Cen­trist Union. That makes a min­i­mum of 151 and po­ten­tially 155 votes in fa­vor of the deal.

In a press con­fer­ence that fol­lowed his res­ig­na­tion, Kam­menos made it clear that he and his party will vote against the gov­ern­ment con­fi­dence mo­tion, as well as the Mace­do­nia name deal, when it comes up for rat­i­fi­ca­tion.

He ad­mit­ted, how­ever that he is only as­sured of three votes, his own and two other law­mak­ers, one of whom, Maria Kol­li­aTsaroucha, the deputy de­fense min­is­ter, will re­sign along with him. Two other law­mak­ers, one an ally who is not a party mem­ber, have long de­clared they will vote for the Mace­do­nia name deal.

Kam­menos harshly crit­i­cized the re­main­ing two al­lied law­mak­ers, Tourism Min­is­ter Elena Koun­toura and Deputy Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Vas­silis Kokkalis, who are both on trips abroad. Nei­ther one has stated their po­si­tion on the con­fi­dence mo­tion but Kokkalis has said he will vote against the Mace­do­nian name change.

In the Mace­do­nian cap­i­tal of Skopje, Mace­do­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Nikola Dim­itrov told a press con­fer­ence Sun­day that he has been “as­sured” by a Greek gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial that Athens re­mains “strongly com­mit­ted” to com­plet­ing its part of the name change deal.


Greek De­fense Min­is­ter Panos Kam­menos, cen­ter, makes a state­ment to the me­dia after a meet­ing with Greece's Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras on Sun­day in Athens.

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