Defense Minister Panos Kammenos admitted in a press conference following his resignation statement Sunday, that only two other Independent Greeks lawmakers will follow him in voting against the government and the FYROM name deal.
The 7-strong parliamentary group, which has propped up the government majority of 152 in the 300-member Parlaiment is split.
Kammenos said that Maria Kollia-Tsaroucha, the Deputy Defense Minister who will follow him out of the government, and MP Costas Katsikis, will vote like him.
Two other lawmakers, eccentric ally Costas Zouraris, who is not a party member, and Athanassios Papachristopoulos, have declared their support for the name deal and are likely to back the government, as well. Kammenos said that both had informed him about their position well in advance and called their views an “honest disagreement.”
He was not as warm about the two remaining deputies, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura and Deputy Agriculture Minister Vassilis Kokkalis, both of whom, Kammenos hinted, want to keep their portfolios. In this case, they would be excluded from the party, Kammenos said.
Kammenos praised Kountoura's work and admitted her trip abroad had long been scheduled. “But she seems to have left her phone with her police escort,” Kammenos said.
Kokkalis, who has declared he will oppose ratification of the name deal, “discovered recently that he had to make a trip to China,” Kammenos said, not hiding his sarcasm. “I hope he reads the newspapers (to find about the news)” Kammenos added.
But the irrepressible outgoing defense minister reserved his greatest scorn for Deputy Foreign Minister Terence Quick, who is not an MP (although he may become one if, as he has promised, Papachristopoulos resigns his seat after voting for the deal) but has indicated he wants to continue in government. This is the person, Kammenos said in feigned amusement, who was adamantly against joining Syriza in government, saying he wanted nothing to do with the left and who “was shedding tears over Macedonia.” Kammenos also revealed that, during the stormy cabinet session in which he had attacked then-Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias over the FYROM deal, leading to Kotzias' resignation, Quick had taken Kotzias' side.
The press conference would not be complete without Kammenos attacking opponents right and left, accusing them of waging a constant war against his party ever since it had entered Parliament in 2012. There were the usual accusations of blackmail and corruption. He also did not fail to attack the 37 lawmakers who, at one point or another over the past four legislatures, deserted the party. “All of them vanished. None were elected to anything, not even city councillors,” he said.
As for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, he called it “that creation of Mussolini and Tito” as if the two had cooperated in setting it up, whose existence “perpetuates the communist and fascist lies.”
Kammenos, who denied being politically positioned on the hard right, called on all “patriots” to either join or cooperate with him at the next election. He also said he would prefer a referendum on the name issue, to be held on the same day as the elections to the European Parliament (also to city and regional councils) that will take place in May 2019.
A video that surfaced in social media showed Kammenos attending mass and taking communion before meeting with Tsipras, his now former partner.