DM: When time comes, we'll leave the govt; Opposition claims staged exit ahead of snap elex

Sunday, 01 July 2018 21:36
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Outspoken Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, the head of a small right-wing party that props up the Tsipras government as the junior coalition partner, on Sunday left open the possibility of his party withdrawing its Parliamentary support when a bilateral agreement to resolve the fYRoM "name issue" comes before the legislature for ratification.

Without Kammenos and his MPs support in Parliament, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' hard left SYRIZA party would not have a majority of 150+1 deputies in the 300-MP Parliament, a necessary mandate for government.

The statement by Kammenos, who's seen approval ratings for his rightist-populist party dip well below the 3-percent threshold needed for Parliamentary representation, merely fueled speculation that the agreement will be tabled in parliament as a  precursor for a snap election to be called by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Opposition parties and MPs have directly made this allegation over the recent period, with equally outspoken main opposition New Democracy (ND) party vice-president Adonis Georgiadis repeating the suggestion hours after the minister's threat.

"The name issue is non-negotiable ... the Greek people voted for us as a necessary good," Kammenos said on Sunday.

The agreement between Athens and Skopje last month, called the "Prespes Agreement" from the border lake district where it was signed, calls for the neighboring country to be called "Republic of North Macedonia", in all uses and for a constitutional revision to be validated by a referendum. The residents of the land-locked country will continue to be officially called "Macedonian", but with a reference that they are citizens of "North Macedonia".

In a caustic response on his official Twitter account, Georgiadis tweeted that "Panos Kammenos considers the Greek people dim-witted. They (Kammenos' party) have agreed with (PM) Tsipras to bring the Tsipras/Zaev agreement to Parliament when they want to call an election, so that Kammenos can assume the role of a Macedonian fighter; no one believes them anymore."  

The current defense minister was expelled from center-right New Democracy party in 2012, only to form his own virulently anti-memorandum and anti-austerity party. The latter managed to exceed the 3-percent threshold for Parliament representation in January 2015. The Independent Greeks (AN.EL) then entered into a "strange bedfellows" coalition with first-past-the-post SYRIZA, promising to end austerity, repeal a property tax, tear up bailout agreements and even unilaterally write-off a chunk of Greece's external debt, among others.



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