NEWS

Political firestorm over name deal

TAGS: Politics, Diplomacy

In the wake of the name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) announced by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday, the government and opposition New Democracy have been set on a collision course which is expected to culminate in Parliament in coming days.

The government on Wednesday rejected a request by main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis that the deal be debated in Parliament before it is signed by the two countries.

To this end, the conservative leader had called on President Prokopis Pavlopoulos to intervene as the deal was “deeply problematic.”

According to ND, a Parliament debate before the deal is signed, rather than after, is the right course of action given that Panos Kammenos, the leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks, has also expressed public disagreement over any deal that will include the term Macedonia.

But, given the government’s refusal, ND is expected to file a censure motion against it, even as early as Thursday, following the vote on the multi-bill with the prior actions required by Greece’s creditors to complete the final review.

Tsipras slammed Mitsotakis’s stance as “irresponsible” in a TV interview in state-run broadcaster ERT on Wednesday night, adding that Kammenos may not vote for the deal but he would not overthrow the government.

Meanwhile the political backlash to the deal was also intense in Skopje, with FYROM President Gjorge Ivanov saying he will not approve it.

“The text is detrimental for the Republic of Macedonia,” he said. Commenting on a very brief meeting he had earlier with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, he said he told them they alone bear the responsibility for the deal.

“It’s an unacceptable deal that violates the laws and the constitution,” he said.

For their part, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and European Council President Donald Tusk said in a joint statement on Wednesday that Greece and FYROM should not throw away the opportunity to resolve the long-running name dispute.

“We welcome the agreement reached between Prime Ministers Tsipras and Zaev yesterday on a solution to the name dispute. We hope that this unique opportunity to relaunch the wider Western Balkan region’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration will not be wasted,” they said.

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