Gov’t braces for vote on Prespes deal amid tension

Gov’t braces for vote on Prespes deal amid tension

A second day of debate on the Prespes name deal is to culminate in a vote in Parliament late tonight with the government expected to secure ratification for the contentious accord.

Tensions are expected to peak with the speeches of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the afternoon.

There had been fears that the debate would stretch into the early hours of Friday morning as dozens of MPs have asked to speak. However, Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis stressed on Wednesday that the vote would be tonight, as scheduled.

The ND leader ultimately decided against bringing a censure motion against the government, Kathimerini learned on Wednesday, preferring to focus instead on developing his arguments against the agreement which he has repeatedly condemned as “harmful” for the country.

One of ND’s key objections is that the constitution of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has not been revised to reflect the changes agreed between the two sides.

ND’s parliamentary spokesman Nikos Dendias remarked that a revised constitution is “a precondition for any debate in Parliament.”

Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos came under fire from opposition MPs for submitting to the House a version of FYROM’s constitution downloaded from the government’s website which had the agreed-to amendments listed at the end of the document.

Insisting that those changes would be processed following the Greek vote in Parliament in line with FYROM’s constitutional laws, Katrougalos remarked that Greek authorities got “110 percent of what we had been asking for.”

ND’s shadow foreign affairs minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos described the deal as “weighted against Greece,” while ND vice president Adonis Georgiadis spoke of a “national mourning” due to the concessions Greece has made to FYROM in the accord.

Mitsotakis also indicated, in a message posted on Twitter, that the country had suffered losses due to the pact.

“Instead of getting an erga omnes composite name, we are giving away Macedonian identity and language erga omnes,” he said, using the Latin phrase meaning “in relation to everyone” which is used in the deal.

Despite the strong reactions the deal has provoked, both politically and socially, it is all but certain that it will pass, apparently with at least 152 votes.

Apart from the 145 MPs in SYRIZA, Tsipras can also rely on the votes of three MPs of centrist Potami – Stavros Theodorakis, Giorgos Mavrotas and Spyros Lykoudis – as well as Independent Greeks (ANEL) MP Thanasis Papachristopoulos and Elena Kountoura, the ex-ANEL tourism minister, along with independent MPs Spyros Danellis and Thanasis Theoharopoulos.

It is unclear how Deputy Citizens’ Protection Minister Katerina Papacosta will vote. According to sources, a statement expected to be made on Thursday by former conservative premier Costas Karamanlis on the issue could determine her position.

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