Cracks within coalition over ‘Macedonia’ rebuffed

Cracks within coalition over ‘Macedonia’ rebuffed

Seeking to refute speculation of an imminent rupture of the coalition due to disagreements regarding Greece’s dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter’s name, the leader of its junior partner, Panos Kammenos, said on Monday that his party will stay the course but insisted he will never acquiesce to a solution that will allow the tiny Balkan nation to use the term “Macedonia.”

Government sources claimed on Monday that Kammenos’s reassurances over the future of the coalition between SYRIZA and his Independent Greeks (ANEL) party have ended speculation that it will unravel, while the manager of the leftist party’s parliamentary group, Costas Zachariadis, said as much on Monday, insisting that agreement on the name issue is not necessary for the government’s survival.

However, despite the claim by ANEL lawmakers that the coalition is not at risk over the difference of opinion, they have yet to clarify what will happen in the event that a solution they oppose comes to Greece’s Parliament.

Moreover, the repeated comments by prominent ANEL lawmaker Dimitris Kammenos that the term “Macedonia” cannot be used in any form by FYROM are raising eyebrows and stoking anger within SYRIZA. SYRIZA lawmaker and former education minister Nikos Filis, for example, described his comments as being “predisposed to the far right.”

For his part, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said during a televised exchange with his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin on Monday that Skopje cannot join NATO as long it continue to show signs of irredentist claims vis-a-vis Greece.

Greece wants FYROM to join NATO, Pavlopoulos said. This can only happen, however, if the name chosen to resolve the dispute between the two countries leaves no scope for irredentist claims, he said.

Meanwhile, United Nations special envoy Matthew Nimetz arrives in Athens on Tuesday for talks with Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias before heading to Skopje on Wednesday.

According to reports, another meeting between Kotzias and his FYROM counterpart Nikola Dimitrov is also expected after Nimetz ends his tour of the two capitals.

For his part, US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt told Skai TV on Monday night that he is optimistic there will be a solution to the decades-old dispute.