Greek defenсe minister resigns, PM Tsipras calls vote of confidence in govt

Nellie Chapman
January 13, 2019

Macedonian deputies voted Friday to change the country's name to "the Republic of North Macedonia", settling a decades-long row with Greece and paving the way to NATO and European Union membership.

"A better deal could not be reached, and without an agreement with Greece there will be no North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union (membership)", Zaev said.

Kammenos who is head of the main coalition partner of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, announced his resignation on Sunday ahead of the upcoming parliamentary vote to end a 27-year name dispute with Macedonia.

The countries struck the deal on the new name in June, but Macedonia will start using it only after the parliament in Athens also ratifies the agreement.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said he will call a confidence vote after his governing coalition split over the Macedonia name change.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is on a working visit to Athens, has expressed strong support for the agreement.

In the latter capacity, he brokered a so-called interim deal whereby Greece dropped its embargo on Macedonia in exchange for the latter's modifying its flag, which included a symbol found in the grave of Philip II, ruler of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia and father of Alexander the Great.

His Syriza party has 145 seats in the 300-seat parliament and Mr Kammenos has called on his Independent Greeks party, which has seven, to vote against the government.

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The Macedonian parliament has amended the constitution to rename the country as the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

Macedonia approved the deal on Friday, while Greece's parliament is expected to vote on it before March.

Athens News Agency said the news reports prompted the preliminary investigation into the allegations.

Indeed, several lawmakers from small center-left parties, as well as at least two from Kammenos' party, have indicated they are ready to give their assent.

The investigation, according to judicial sources, is looking into whether personal data was violated as part of the probe. It now needs backing from the Greek parliament to come into effect.

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.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told reporters in the capital of Skopje on Saturday that he expects neighbouring Greece to be the first country to sign the accession protocol for Macedonia to become NATO's 30th member.

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