Government ‘certain’ Parliament will pass FYROM name deal


Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos expressed certainty on Wednesday that the name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be approved by lawmakers when it is brought to Parliament.

Speaking to Real FM radio, he said there is a “safe majority” in Parliament which will ensure the deal’s passage.

Tzanakopoulos made his remarks amid speculation about possible snap elections in May sparked by Panos Kammenos, the leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL), who said his party would not back the name deal if it comes to Parliament.

Meanwhile US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has expressed concern that Russia might interfere in the September 30 referendum in FYROM on the deal.

“The kind of mischief that Russia has practiced from Estonia to the United States, from Ukraine and now to Macedonia… it’s always beyond the pale as far as I’m concerned,” Mattis said ahead of his visit to Skopje this weekend.

Washington’s concerns are also highlighted by Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell’s visit on Thursday to FYROM.

If the name deal is ratified by FYROM – which entails a change in its constitution and a “yes” vote in the referendum – then this will pave the way for the Balkan country’s accession to the European Union and NATO, which Moscow vehemently opposes.

Greece has also accused Moscow of interference and back in July expelled two Russian diplomats on charges of trying to whip up opposition to the name deal.

The “yes” campaign in FYROM received a boost on Wednesday after the nationalist VMRO party, which is opposed to the deal, said it will not call for a boycott of the vote and urged its supporters to cast a vote of conscience.