Interior minister calls on Kammenos to defend gov’t position on name talks


SYRIZA hardliner and Interior Minister Panos Skourletis has called on the chief of the leftist party’s coalition partner, Panos Kammenos of Independent Greeks, to defend the government’s position in ongoing name talks with Skopje.

“As defense minister, he has a duty to defend the one and only position of the government he represents,” Skourletis said of Kammenos on a TV talk show on Wednesday morning.

“This is not a day-to-day issue, but one that has troubled us for 25 years,” Skourletis told Antenna TV, underscoring the government’s urgency to achieve a breakthrough in negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) regarding the latter’s name.

Referring to claims by the leader of the small right-wing nationalist party that he will not back any proposal that contains the word “Macedonia,” Skourletis said “Kammenos’s position concerns Panos Kammenos alone.”

Skourletis was also critical of ANEL MPs who have openly stated their opposition to the government’s official line, which is to reach a mutually acceptable compromise with Skopje, which, however, ensures FYROM gives up any irredentist claims it may have over Greece’s Macedonia region.

The minister referred in particular to nationalist lawmakers who attended a rally in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Sunday to protest the use of “Macedonia” in talks.

“Reactions and protests undermine the negotiations. If we don’t want the other side to have irredentist tendencies, then we shouldn’t either,” Skourletis said in reference to that protest as well as to another rally on the same issue being planned in Athens next week.