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  • Defense minister’s stance on Macedonia name dispute divides coalition

    Effectively, Kammenos is rejecting the only realistic prospect for a solution, a composite, double name for Greece’s northern neighbor that would attach a geographic marker before the name Macedonia.

    ΤοΒΗΜΑ Team

    With all opinion polls indicating that his Independent Greeks party will fail to pass the three percent threshold to enter parliament, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos has decided lead the charge against Greece accepting any name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) that contains the word Macedonia.

    “I will not vote yes to any use of the word Macedonia,” Kammenos told a news conference that he called in order to offer an accounting of his two years as defense minister.

    Effectively, Kammenos is rejecting the only realistic prospect for a solution, a composite, double name for Greece’s northern neighbor that would attach a geographic marker before the name Macedonia. Many believe that the moderate government of Zoran Zaev offers the best prospects in decades for a settlement.

    In an interview with To Vima on Sunday, main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared that the government should resign if the two ruling coalition partners cannot agree on an issue of major national import, as they will have lost the trust of parliament.

    That, of course, would happen only if the government failed to garner a parliamentary majority with the votes of other parties, which raises the question of whether New Democracy will chose to vote down an equitable compromise, if one is reached, merely in order to topple the government and come to power.

    Kammenos again raised the prospect of President Prokopis Pavlopoulos convening the Council of Political Leaders to take a position on the issue.

    In that regard, he cited a prior decision taken by party leaders a quarter century ago, before about 140 countries recognised FYROM by its constitutional name.

    The last such Council, convened by the late president Constantine Karamanlis in 1992, when Constantine Mitsotakis was prime minister and Andreas Papandreou opposition leader, had decided against Greece approving any use of the name Macedonia by its northern neighbor.

    Kammenos also criticized New Democracy MP and former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis’ support for a composite name.

    Bakoyanni was foreign minister in 2008 when Athens refused to approve Skopje’s admission to NATO with its constitutional name.

    Kammenos said New Democracy should agree with ex-prime minister Antonis Samaras, who was the hard-line foreign minister in 1992 and toppled the government of Bakoyannis’ late father, Constantine Mitsotakis.

    He called on New Democracy to now take a clear stand on the issue.

    Reporting by Angelos Athanasopoulos

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