Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, leader of Independent Greeks, the junior partner in Greece's coalition government, launched yet another attack on former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias on his favorite medium, Twitter, Sunday.
In response to a journalist half-jokingly tweeting at him that “the revolution requires war” Kammenos again called Kotzias a “wrecker” and attacked him and his “fellow travelers.”
“I am at war ever since I followed my way,” the intemperate defense minister responded, alluding to the time he left the conservative New Democracy to found his own hard-right, populist party. “At war against interests, even Mafia ones, I will neither die of a stray bullet nor kneel to be executed by the fellow travellers of wrecker Kotzias. They chose this…”
The two former colleagues are on the worst of terms ever since Kotzias brokered a deal to rename Greece's northern neighbor “North Macedonia” and Kammenos has had to balance his declared opposition to the deal with his desire to remain in the government.
Kotzias resigned last October after an incident between the two men during a cabinet meeting in which Kotzias felt he was not supported by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Kammenos has been ticked off by Kotzias's calling his bluff that he would take the government down if the name deal came for ratification in Parliament.
“Mr Kammenos stopped saying he will bring down the government when he understood that many of his own will not follow him,” Kotzias told news web site News247. He also accused Kammenos of wishing to dismember the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Kammenos's response on Saturday was to call for an emergency meeting of his 7-member parliamentary group for Wednesday and fire off a tweet where, he proclaimed, in all-caps “We are not blackmailed. We are not threatened. We are not bought off.”
Tsipras's left-wing SYRIZA party has 145 seats in the 300-member parliament, where the 7 Independent Greeks help provide the majority. Rumors are rife that at least 2 of Kammenos's fellow lawmakers, perhaps more, would desert him when the name deal comes up for ratification. Rumors are given further credibility by the fact that polls show the Independent Greeks failing to enter Parliament at the next national election later this year.
Government speaker Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told the ANA-MPA news agency that “it is a given there is a majority for the [name] deal.”
Centrist party To Potami, which is generally favorable to the deal, said that if Kammenos decides to leave the government, an election should be called immediately.