Monday, 17 June, 2019

Independent Greeks Party Leaves Ruling Coalition - Greek Defence Minister

BREAKING: Greek Defence Minister Resigns Ahead Of Macedonia Name Vote Greek defenсe minister resigns, PM Tsipras calls vote of confidence in govt
Steven Clarke | 14 January, 2019, 16:12

His Defence Minister, Panos Kammenos, resigned on Sunday and took with him his 7 MPs, effectively leaving Mr Tsipras party Syriza without a majority.

If the government loses, the next general election, due to be held in the autumn, could be brought forward. Tsipras's coalition has 153 seats in the 300-strong parliament, 145 of them from his leftist Syriza party.

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 nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) party and urge them to vote against the agreement. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn - frequent visitors and now household names in Macedonia/FYROM - were the first to back the move, nearly in real time, with Washington's minimalist statement emerging a day later.

The future of the ruling coalition government remains unclear.

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

The Greek prime minister faces a new crisis that could trigger snap elections after the leader of the hard-right Independent Greeks party quit the coalition government yesterday over last week's name-change deal with Macedonia.

A Greek prosecutor had on Saturday ordered an investigation into allegations of threats against lawmakers over an upcoming parliamentary vote to end a 27-year dispute with Macedonia, a judicial source said.

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The first casualty in Athens is Kammenos, who, after meeting with Tsipras January 13, said "The Macedonia name issue... doesn't allow me not to sacrifice the minister's chair".

With the departure of his coalition partner, Mr Tsipras would need opposition help to pass the Macedonia name deal. He said that he believes he can find the required six votes.

"Our parliament found the strength but it wasn't easy". In exchange, Athens would lift its objections to the former Yugoslav republic joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.

Present-day Macedonia and northern Greece were part of a Roman province called Macedonia and both claim the heritage of Alexander the Great two millennia earlier.

Kommersant estimates that the adoption of constitutional changes can have another effect, important not only for that Balkan state, adding that "in the opinion of regional experts, this can influence the granting of autocephaly to the Macedonian Orthodox Church".

A spokesperson for the governing Social Democrats said the ethnic Albanian legislators also agreed to back the deal.

Greece has a province called Macedonia and has repeatedly called on Skopje to change its country's name, which Athens considers an affront to Greek sovereignty.

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