Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Greece's PM faces confidence vote after coalition ally quits

Greece's PM faces confidence vote after coalition ally quits

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.

Parliamentary speaker Talad Xhaferi said 81 MPs voted in favour of the name change in the 120-seat chamber, securing the required two-thirds majority.

"I thanked the prime minister for the cooperation and I explained to him that for this national issue we can not continue", Kammenos said, adding that his party "is pulling out of the government".

Macedonia's parliament ratified the deal by passing an amendment to the constitution on Friday, but Macedonia will start using it only after the parliament in Athens also approves the change in a vote expected later this month. Insisting that the name apply only to the Greek region, the Greeks have been blocking the Macedonian republic's entry to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union membership.

New Democracy on Sunday described the end of the Tsipras-Kammenos coalition as "a staged governmental divorce". However some of his ANEL party's MPs remain ambivalent.

But a change of government in Macedonia in 2017 finally led to the deal reached previous year. Now, "we will immediately proceed with the process to renew the parliamentary support" for the government, the prime minister said.

Tsipras said he had a "frank discussion" with Kammenos, whom he thanked for his government partnership, and announced that Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will become the country's new defence minister.

Panos Kammenos, whose nationalist Independent Greeks party (ANEL) props up the government of leftist prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, said: "The Macedonia issue does not allow me not to sacrifice my post", after a meeting with Tsipras. Kammenos said he would not support Tsipras in the vote.

With the departure of his coalition partner, Mr Tsipras would need opposition help to pass the Macedonia name deal.

"Our parliament found the strength but it wasn't easy".

Fearing Macedonia would try to annex Greek Macedonia, the Greece Government refused to accept the new country's name, and faced the United Nation to refer to it as "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia". The deal would pave the way for Greece to end its veto of Macedonia joining 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", he said. In ancient times it was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire, a source of intense pride for modern-day Greeks.

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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