Min­is­ter quits, Greece coali­tion left in doubt

Viet Nam News - - WORLD -

ATHENS — Greece’s right-wing de­fence min­is­ter re­signed yes­ter­day in protest at a deal end­ing a long run­ning dis­pute with Mace­do­nia over its name, cloud­ing the fu­ture of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment months be­fore na­tional elec­tions.

Panos Kam­menos, whose In­de­pen­dent Greeks party props up the gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras, has long op­posed the ac­cord with neigh­bour­ing Mace­do­nia signed by their gov­ern­ments last year.

“The Mace­do­nia name is­sue... doesn’t al­low me not to sac­ri­fice the min­is­ter’s chair,” Kam­menos said after meet­ing Tsipras yes­ter­day morn­ing. He said he would also pull six other min­is­ters from his party out of the gov­ern­ment.

The im­pact of the res­ig­na­tion on the gov­ern­ing coali­tion was not im­me­di­ately clear. Par­lia­men­tary elec­tions are due in Greece by Oc­to­ber. Tsipras’s coali­tion has 153 seats in the 300-strong par­lia­ment, 145 of them from his left­ist Syriza party.

Kam­menos, who forged a coali­tion pact with Tsipras in 2015, never con­cealed his hos­til­ity to the deal with Skopje, which re­names the tiny Balkan coun­try Repub­lic of North Mace­do­nia.

Greece has a prov­ince called Mace­do­nia and long de­manded Skopje change its coun­try name to re­move what Athens con­sid­ered to be an im­plied claim to Greek sov­er­eign ter­ri­tory.

Mace­do­nia’s as­pi­ra­tions to Euro­pean Union and NATO ties had been blocked by Greece over the name dis­pute.

Kam­menos has called the ac­cord a na­tional sell-out and had re­peat­edly threat­ened to leave if it came be­fore the Greek par­lia­ment for rat­i­fi­ca­tion - ex­pected later this month.

Kam­menos said any deal in­clud­ing “Mace­do­nia” in the name of the Balkan state to Greece’s north was un­ac­cept­able as the name was ir­re­vo­ca­bly tied to Greek civ­i­liza­tion and cul­ture.

The main op­po­si­tion, con­ser­va­tive New Democ­racy party, which is lead­ing pre- elec­tion polls, has said it will block the deal.

The gov­ern­ment hopes, how­ever, that the pact will still pass with the sup­port of cen­tre-left and in­de­pen­dent law­mak­ers.

Mace­do­nia’s par­lia­ment rat­i­fied the deal by pass­ing an amend­ment to the con­sti­tu­tion on Fri­day.

The two coun­tries struck the deal on the new name in June last year, but Mace­do­nia will start us­ing it only after the par­lia­ment in Athens also ap­proves the change.

A dis­pute over the mat­ter trig­gered the res­ig­na­tion of Greece’s for­eign min­is­ter, Nikos Kotzias, in Oc­to­ber. Kotzias was an ar­chi­tect of the ac­cord but left be­cause he feel in­suf­fi­ciently sup­ported by Tsipras in clashes with Kam­menos. — REUTERS

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