Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Greek Defence Minister Resigns Ahead Of Macedonia Name Vote

Greek Defence Minister Resigns Ahead Of Macedonia Name Vote

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 civilisation and culture. Greece will hold parliamentary elections in October.

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

On Friday, 81 of 120 Macedonian MPs voted in favour of the name change, securing the required 2/3rds majority. Kammenos like many Greeks say Macedonia should only refer to their own country's northern region, the ancient stronghold of Alexander the Great.

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. In one weird case, it can mean membership in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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 adoption of constitutional changes in parliament means not only the ratification of the agreement with Greece and a new name of the country, now called the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia".

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He said: "The issue of Macedonia, an issue for which thousands died, does not allow me not to sacrifice the minister's chair".

During crisis talks with Alex Tsipras, Panos Kammenos said he had tendered his resignation as defence minister and pulled his ministers from the coalition.

Before the vote in the Macedonian capital Skopje, a rift seemed to be growing over the issue between Prime Minister Tsipras and his right-wing coalition partner, Panos Kammenos, who has threatened to leave the government, The NYT report said.

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. "Last year, the alliance invited Macedonia into its ranks, the European Union is ready to start accession negotiations in mid 2019 - in both cases, under the condition that the agreement with Greece is implemented", the daily writes.

"Our parliament found the strength but it wasn't easy". Greek parliamentary endorsement of the name is required for the tiny Balkan nation to join the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. "But I am convinced that the Greek parliament will also find the strength to make the decision", Zaev told a press conference in Skopje. It included Greek and Slavic areas and was split into three administrative units, but the concept of Macedonia persisted.

Meanwhile, 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 lawmakers of the ANEL party and urge them to vote against the agreement.

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