Greek PM Tsipras faces confidence vote after minister quits

14 January, 2019, 16:17 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Greek defence minister

In the euro area's latest sign of political instability, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos withdrew his party from the governing coalition on Sunday over a name dispute with neighboring Macedonia.

Mr Tsipras's party has 145 seats in the 300-seat Parliament.

Macedonia's parliament ratified the deal on Friday.

Mr Kammenos said that he would vote against the government as supporting it would imply backing for the name deal with Macedonia.

Addressing reporters later on Sunday, Tsipras said he accepted the resignation of Kammenos, adding that he will continue to push forward with agreement, which needs 151 votes to be ratified in the Parliament.

The wrangle had long frustrated Macedonia's European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation aspirations.

Tsipras hopes to rely on lawmakers from the small pro-EU To Potami (The River) party to get the agreement approved, while some of ANEL's lawmakers also remain ambivalent to the deal.

The main opposition New Democracy party, widely favoured to win the next elections whenever they are held this year, has said it will block the deal which it faults over its treatment of the "Macedonian" nationality question.


Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday said he would call a confidence vote in his government after his coalition ally quit, leaving him bereft of a parliamentary majority and raising the possibility of snap elections. Neither one has stated their position on the confidence motion but Kokkalis has said he will vote against the Macedonian name change. Tsipras has consistently rejected proposals made earlier this year by Kammenos and others for a Greek referendum on the deal, as was held in Macedonia/FYROM, or for the need for an enhanced majority of 180 MPs for passage.

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".

Kommersant estimates that the adoption of constitutional changes can have another outcome, 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".

"Our parliament found the strength but it wasn't easy". 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. For years, Athens has blocked Macedonia's entry to the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, citing the name dispute.

Zaev said on January 12 that the lawmakers had "made history", adding: "I know how hard that was".

And, he concluded, Macedonia is a name intrinsically linked with the Greek culture, which recalls the triumphs of the era of warrior king Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia.

With campaigning under way for an election that isn't due until September, polls suggest an early vote might hasten a shift of power to the center-right opposition, New Democracy.

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