Head of Independent Greeks (ANEL) resigns from government post over deal to end name dispute with Macedonia.
The head of the junior partner in Greece’s ruling coalition announced his resignation from his post as defense minister on Sunday in protest over a deal to end a dispute over the name of neighboring Macedonia.
Party chief of the Independent Greeks (ANEL) Panos Kammenos said his party would withdraw from the government of “national unity”, which he said had successfully delivered the country from the period of bailouts following the deep depression of the Greek economy after the 2008 global financial crisis. “I met with the prime minister. We had quite a long discussion. There was a cooperation lasting four whole years in a government of national unity... two parties from different areas came together and succeeded in extricating Greece from the memorandums. The first goal was achieved," he told reporters as he exited Maximos Mansion and the meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. "The issue of Macedonia, an issue for which thousands were killed, doesn't permit me to not sacrifice my government seat " he added. Kammenos has always been hostile towards the deal with Macedonia over the name dispute.
In June 2018, Greece and Macedonia inked Prespa Agreement, which requires Macedonia to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia and Greece to drop its objection to Macedonia joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and becoming a member of the European Union.
Tsipras’ party has 145 deputies in the 300-member Greek Parliament, while Kammenos’ party has seven. He would now now need opposition help to pass the Macedonia deal. The prime minister also announced that he had already contacted the president asking him to initiate the process of holding a vote of confidence in the government, so that it might complete its term under the constitution in October 2019.
He also announced that Greece’s new defense minister will be chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff Adm. Evangelos Apostolakis. Macedonia was found in 1991 and has been recognized by the UN in 1993, but was accepted to the UN membership with the name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) due to Greek objection to the name Macedonia. Many countries including Turkey recognize Macedonia with its present name.