Tsipras slightly escapes no confidence vote as Macedonia name dispute rages on

Alexis Tsipras and his government yesterday narrowly escaped a vote of no confidence by only three votes in the Greek Parliament.

This comes after the Macedonia name row between allies. The Greek Prime Minister and his acolytes managed to get 151 votes against 148.

“I ask with honesty and clarity the reaffirmation of the national delegation’s confidence in the government,” he said before the vote, quoted largely by Greek media.

The divorce between the ruling leftist party Syriza and nationalist right Independent Greeks party is a result of Tsipras’ efforts to end decades-long name dispute between Greece and Macedonia.

Greece’s right-wing defence minister Panos Kammenos resigned in protest at a deal with Macedonia over its name.

He opposed any deal with “Macedonia” in the name of the Balkan country, arguing the name is irreplaceably tied to Greek culture.

In an effort to overcome the governmental crisis, Tsipras called on lawmakers on Tuesday to renew their support in government through a confidence motion.

Tsipras, who defended the name deal signed between Athens and Skopje, has promised to spend the government’s final days in office passing crucial legislation and completing the constitutional revision.

The Independent Greeks party has seven MP’s, enough to block Tsipras administration falling short of the threshold of 150 deputies in the 300-member parliament, where Tsipras’s Syriza party has 145 seats.

New Defence Minister

Evangelos Apostolakis, Greece’s new defence minister, invited Turkey, a neighbouring country with many disagreements, to play a part in efforts for cooperation, he said in his first statement as minister.

The newly appointed minister said Turkey should choose a path between collision and cooperation with Greece, in a handover ceremony at the ministry on Tuesday, Kathimerinireported.

“I want to remind our neighbours that whenever the logic of cooperation and trust prevailed, our people thrived. But whenever nationalisms prevailed, our people were miserable,” he said.

Apostolakis, who resigned from his post as Hellenic Armed Forces Commander, was appointed as minister following a political crisis in the country resulted in a breakup of the government coalition.

Macedonia name back on Greek Parliament agenda soon

The Greek parliament is expected to vote the name deal later this month. Tsipras’ government has expectations to pass the pact with the support of centre-left and independent lawmakers.

Athens has been blockading the former Yugoslav Republic’s path to joining the European Union and NATO until the tiny Balkan country changes its name from Macedonia to North Macedonia, as there is a geographical and historical region in Greece with the same name.

Macedonia’s parliament has ratified the name change accord with a constitutional amendment but since the Greek parliament has not made the final decision yet, the name deal between two countries stay in tatters.

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