Published: Sat, October 20, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Greek foreign minister resigns over Macedonia name deal dispute

Greek foreign minister resigns over Macedonia name deal dispute

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday urged Macedonian lawmakers to ratify the two countries' landmark name deal after a cabinet spat in Athens prompted the shock resignation of his foreign minister.

Kotzias's move came a day after a cabinet meeting during which he reportedly had a heated argument with Defense Minister Panos Kammenos over the name deal and felt he didn't receive sufficient support from his colleagues and the prime minister in return.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has resigned, on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, following a disagreement with the defense minister over the handling of a recent deal which would change Macedonia's name in exchange for Greece dropping its objections to the country joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The decision to assume the Foreign Ministry himself marks his decisiveness in doing whatever possible to guarantee the successful completion of the historic agreement on the name row which was reached in June this year after marathon UN-mediated negotiations, the Greek Premier said. An agreement in June between the Prime ministers of macedonia Zoran Zaev and Greek Alexis Tsipras plans to be baptized "Republic of northern Macedonia" this poor, small country in the Balkans.

"I will not accept any double messages from now on from anyone, no personal opinion relating to the country's national policy, expressed consciously or not, that disrupts the country's smooth path", Tsipras told reporters.

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According to Kathimerini newspaper, aides close to the foreign minister said Kotzias had been "deeply offended" by Kammenos' allegations, although it was not made clear what these were.

Kammenos has repeatedly voiced in recent months his party's strong objection to the deal and has warned that he and the Independent Greeks MPs will vote against the agreement when it will reach the Greek parliament for ratification.

Tzanakopoulos said Tuesday's cabinet meeting involved "an open political discussion" on Kammenos' disagreement with the name deal. SYRIZA and ANEL are believed to be "strange bedfellows' and this crisis shows cracks within the coalition, with some thinking that it marks the end of the Tsipras' government".

The name deal has however been thrown in limbo following a referendum in Macedonia on September 30 which failed to muster a minimum turnout to render it valid. "And the quicker this farce ends, the better", New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

Kammenos has threatened to quit the coalition if it is put before the Greek parliament.

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