Panos Kammenos, the leader of Greece’s junior coalition partner Independent Greeks, said on Wednesday that he disagrees with the leftist-led government’s handling of ongoing name talks with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Speaking to lawmakers during a heated debate on whether to probe 10 top politicians accused of taking bribes from pharmaceutical giant Novartis, the head of the small right-wing nationalist party said that he would do anything in his power to prevent a solution that would include the Balkan country using the term “Macedonia” in its name.
“Of course I disagree with the government’s handling of the name issue. I have said so publicly,” he told MPs. “Not only will I never vote for such a thing, but I will do everything in my power to prevent [the government] ceding the term Macedonia.”
Officials from ruling SYRIZA have indicated that the government is open to proposals for a composite name with a geographical qualifier, which is also the direction towards which the United Nations’ special mediator in the talks, Matthew Nimetz, is leaning.
However, public opinion polls have shown that the majority of Greeks are opposed to the idea of any name containing “Macedonia” as it may indicate irredentist claims over the northern Greek region of the same name.
“My relationship with the government and with Alexis Tsipras is an honorable relationship,” said Kammenos, whose party controls the government’s slim majority in Greece’s 300-seat Parliament. “They [SYRIZA] also disagree with me on many issues, but we have a duty and a mandate from the Greek people to come together in this Parliament as people who disagree with each other.”