Greek government seeks to defuse tension


Amid mounting concerns over the government’s survival after repeated threats by Independent Greeks (ANEL), the junior partner in the coalition, to withdraw over the Macedonia name deal, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos sought to reassure reporters on Wednesday that it will complete its four-year term in office.

ANEL leader Panos Kammenos has said the deal must be ratified by an enhanced majority in Parliament or else his party will withdraw from the coalition.

Tzanakopoulos said that even though the Greek Constitution doesn’t require the deal to be ratified by an enhanced majority of 180 MPs in the 300-seat Parliament, the demand by Kammenos will be discussed. 

“The Greek Constitution stipulates that the requirement for a majority of 180 lawmakers in support of any international agreement exists only when government powers or powers conferred by the Constitution to state agencies are ceded to international organizations. Here we do not have such a case, so there is no such constitutional requirement,” Tzanakopoulos said, adding however that the “political proposal” by Kammenos “will be the subject of discussion and consultation within the government when the time comes to make the necessary political decisions.”

The deal signed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Zoran Zaev, has sorely tested the coalition, which has a slim majority of 152 MPs.

Despite government efforts to defuse the tensions over the name issue, Interior Minister Panos Skourletis said yesterday that Kammenos’s remarks were dangerous for the stability of the government. Moreover, he added that ANEL is in competition with New Democracy for the same voters.

Referring to the possibility of ANEL leaving the coalition, he said that another parliamentary majority could be formed without the need for elections, adding that centrist To Potami could be a likely candidate.

According to reports on Wednesday from FYROM, Tsipras and Zaev may meet on the sidelines of the Western Balkans Summit in London on July 10.