NEWS

Gov’t seeks to play down rift over name deal

TAGS: Politics, Diplomacy

The government on Wednesday sought to deflect attention from a rift within the coalition over the FYROM name deal, with spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos saying it would hold a vote of confidence in the event that the junior partner rejects the accord in Greece’s Parliament. 

Tzanakopoulos made his comments during a briefing to reporters as MPs in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ratified the accord. 

The leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL), Panos Kammenos, who has insisted his party will vote down the name deal, said on Wednesday that he would ask Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to seek a supermajority of 180 MPs when the accord comes to Greece’s Parliament given the national importance of the issue. 

The statement prompted a scathing response from conservative New Democracy, which slammed the ANEL leader for his “confused” stance on the name deal. 

Calling for a supermajority while excluding himself from the responsibility to vote would “go down in history as the epitome of political self-abasement,” the party said.

Tzanakopoulos remarked that there was currently no question of the government seeking an enhanced majority for the deal.

Asked about comments by ANEL MP Panagiotis Sgouridis, according to which Athens made concessions on the name deal in order to secure an agreement to lighten its debt at Thursday's Eurogroup meeting, Tzanakopoulos dismissed them as rumors.

“Those rumors reveal ignorance about the way institutions and governments work in Europe,” Tzanakopoulos said.

Tzanakopoulos, Tsipras and other government officials sought to shift the focus to today’s Eurogroup, where Athens hopes to secure debt relief.

“We expect tomorrow a decision on Greek debt that will mark the end of Greece’s eight-year turmoil and the end of austerity,” Tsipras said. “We are very close to the moment that we will reap the fruits of years of tough sacrifices by the Greek people,” he added. 

Tzanakopoulos struck a similar note, expressing optimism that the debt solution to be presented at the Eurogroup would be “convincing for markets.”

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