Giorgos Lazaridis, the independent MP who stepped down from Independent Greeks (ANEL) on Tuesday, reducing the governing coalition’s majority to 152 lawmakers in the 300-seat House, has denied accusations that he was bribed into leaving the small right-wing party.
Rumors suggesting that his resignation was part of a plan orchestrated by opposition New Democracy to destabilize the government “has no bearing on reality,” Lazaridis said in a television interview on Wednesday morning.
Speaking on Antenna TV, Lazaridis said that he stepped down when he did knowing that his resignation would not jeopardize Athens’s negotiations with international creditors for Greece’s exit from the bailout program.
“We made an agreement with SYRIZA in 2015 to get the country out of the memorandums,” Lazaridis said, referring to the left-wing governing party of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
He added that he did not back the opposition no-confidence motion in Parliament earlier this month because that would have “put the fourth bailout review at risk” and would have been a “violation of the deal we had with SYRIZA and among ourselves.”
Lazaridis left ANEL’s parliamentary group in protest at the name deal signed between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). “I am trying to keep some of my own red lines,” the MP who represents Thessaloniki’s Second Constituency said on Wednesday, explaining the reasons for his resignation.
Asked by a former colleague at ANEL, Costas Katsikis, who was a guest on the same show, why he is refusing to give up his seat in the House, Lazaridis said that he is simply following procedure as set out in the constitution and Parliament’s regulations.
In a related development meanwhile, Katsikis’s office in downtown Athens came under attack while the ANEL lawmaker was on the television show.
According to reports, two hooded assailants tried to force their way into the office but were thwarted by staff and left without causing any damage.