The government is concerned about the continuing clash between two erstwhile cabinet members – former defense minister Panos Kammenos and former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias – in the countdown to elections.
Kammenos, who quit the leftist-led coalition on Sunday in protest at the Prespes name deal, has long been at odds with Kotzias, who signed the pact with his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) last June.
The row escalated in October, prompting Kotzias to quit due to differences with Kammenos over the deal. Since then the row has escalated, and reignited following Kammenos’s resignation.
Throwing oil onto the fire, Kotzias on Thursday described Kammenos as “far-right” during a session of his political movement Pratto. Noting that Kammenos’s right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) was initially useful as an “anti-bailout” partner for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, he said “it was essentially alien in a leftist government.”
During the first part of the coalition’s stint in power, “it was projecting its working-class profile,” Kotzias said, adding that it later “expressed a right-wing rhetoric that eventually became far-right.”
Responding on Twitter, with a pun using the name of Kotzias’s political movement, Kammenos basically accused Kotzias of corruption at home and abroad.
Sources close to both former ministers indicated that neither was prepared to back down, each accusing the other side of provocations.
The government is more concerned about Kammenos as he made clear in his speech to Parliament before the confidence vote on Wednesday that he was irked with Tsipras, accusing him of going back on promises regarding discussions on the Prespes deal.
With his party whittled down to the minimum of five MPs required to remain in Parliament following two dismissals on Sunday, there are fears that a disgruntled Kammenos may seek to undermine the government.
The resignation from ANEL on Thursday of Deputy Interior Minister Marina Chrysoveloni, once the party’s spokesperson, was the latest blow to Kammenos as he tries to keep his party together.