Macedonia changes its name: Why this matters to Greece
Macedonia changes its name: Why this matters to Greece
Greek defenсe minister resigns, PM Tsipras calls vote of confidence in govt
14 January, 2019, 16:14
Earlier, Greece's right-wing defence minister resigned in protest at a deal ending a long running dispute with Macedonia over its name, saying he was taking his other six ministers in cabinet with him. Lawmakers in Athens tentatively planned to hold the confidence vote on Wednesday, months before regular elections are due in September.
His left-wing Syriza party has 145 deputies in the legislature, and the prime minister may need votes from opposition lawmakers to pass the deal.
Macedonian lawmakers voted to rename their country the Republic of North Macedonia on Friday and the agreement now needs backing from the Greek parliament to come into effect.
Macedonia was founded in 1991 and recognized by the United Nations in 1993, but was accepted to the United Nations membership with the name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) due to Greek objection to the name Macedonia. Namely, the Independent Greeks party opposes it and has left the ruling coalition.
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The deal struck by Mr Tsipras and Mr Zaev came after a change of the Government in Macedonia in 2017, which led to a more distended relationship.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras on Sunday called for an "immediate" confidence vote in parliament over the resignation of a top minister, after his coalition government collapsed in a row over a name change deal with Macedonia.
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The first casualty in Athens is Kammenos, who, after meeting with Tsipras January 13, said "The Macedonia name issue... doesn't allow me not to sacrifice the minister's chair".
Greece has a province called Macedonia and long demanded Skopje change its country's name to remove what Athens considered to be an implied claim to Greek sovereign territory. "I met with the prime minister".
But Mr Kammenos and other nationalist forces including the main Greek conservative opposition party, New Democracy, said they can't sanction this name as they identify with north Macedonia a northern region of Greece. He provocatively stated that he would vote against his former SYRIZA allies if they moved to ratify the Prespes Agreement.
"Our parliament found the strength but it wasn't easy". The deal would pave the way for Greece to end its veto of Macedonia joining the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Zaev said on January 12 that the lawmakers had "made history", adding: "I know how hard that was". Many countries, including Turkey, recognize Macedonia with its present name.
And, he concluded, Macedonia is a name intrinsically linked with the Greek culture, which recalls the triumphs of the era of warrior king Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia.
A spokesperson for the governing Social Democrats said the ethnic Albanian legislators also agreed to back the deal.
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