NEWS

Athens awaits outcome of final name deal vote in Skopje Parl't

VASSILIS NEDOS

TAGS: Politics, Diplomacy

With a vote on the Prespes name deal between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) expected in Skopje's Parliament this week, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to have an idea on how to move forward by Friday.

Depending on the stance taken by FYROM's main opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, the vote in Skopje could happen as early as January 9, and by January 15 at the very latest if President Gjorge Ivanov takes action to slow the process down.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos has said that he expects Tsipras to take any decisions regarding the vote on the deal in Greece's Parliament after January 18.

FYROM PM Zoran Zaev has chosen to fast-track the ratification of the deal in a bid to display his commitment to a solution. He is reportedly convinced that the third and final vote, confirming changes to FYROM's constitution, will clinch more than the required majority of 80 MPs.

In any case, it is expected that Tsipras will clarify in the coming days whether he will move to bring the deal directly to Greece's Parliament or put the procedure off until March, which is considered less likely in view of the current momentum around the deal.

In any case, the vote on the Prespes deal and a subsequent approval of FYROM's NATO accession protocol are expected to pave the way for a decision on elections in Greece.

The timing of the anticipated withdrawal of junior coalition partner Panos Kammenos from the government in protest at the approval of the Prespes deal is expected to influence the election decision.

Meanwhile German Chancellor Angela Merkel's scheduled visit to Athens on January 10 and 11 will underscore the pressure by Western governments for the deal's ratification.

Both Athens and Skopje deny that they are under pressure from the West. But the European Union appears keen to promote a positive example that could be held up as a model for the resolution of other stalled disputes in the region including that between Serbia and Kosovo.

 

 

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