Tspiras to seek confidence vote in Greek government

Lester Mason
January 14, 2019

Earlier, Greece's right-wing defence minister resigned in protest at a deal ending a long running dispute with Macedonia over its name, saying he was taking his other six ministers in cabinet with him.

The Independent Greeks - the small party which Kammenos leads - formed a coalition with Tsipras in 2015, giving the prime minister a slim majority in parliament.

"I explained to him that for this national issue we can not continue".

"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".

Talking to reporters after their meeting, Tsipras thanked Kammenos for his "irreplacable and significant" contribution to the coalition government, and said that their partnership was frank and fruitful.

Tsipras briefly addressed the press just after noon Sunday, announcing he is invoking the established procedure for an immediate vote of confidence in his government in Greece's parliament in order to continue the government's term to the fall of 2019, and that he would be asking Greece's current Chief of Defence, Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis to step in as Defence Minister.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the parliament's decision, praising the Macedonian leader's "vision, courage and persistence" in seeking a resolution to the dispute with Greece that would allow it to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union. It now needs backing from the Greek parliament to come into effect.

Tsipras has already said he wants the Macedonia name change vote to take place soon.

Greek nationalists argue that the name "Macedonia" can only refer to the Greek province of the same name. It included Greek and Slavic areas and was split into three administrative units, but the concept of Macedonia persisted.

Eighty-one of the Macedonian parliament's 120 members backed the name change, securing the required two-thirds majority to push it through.

As if it weren't complicated enough, there's another meaning of the word Macedonia. Many countries, including Turkey, recognize Macedonia with its present name.

Macedonia: What's in a name?

The naming row between the two countries began 27 years ago when FYROM declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but has roots going back to antiquity. Alexander the Great still represents a source of pride for many Greeks today, while his legacy has also been taken up as a central part of Macedonia's national identity.

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.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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