ATHENS – Greece’s Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said he had resigned and withdrawn his party from the country’s governing coalition on Sunday after meeting Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and failing to sort out differences about an imminent agreement with Macedonia over its name.
Kammenos, leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL), said after a meeting Tsipras that his party could not continue in the government any longer.
“ANEL is quitting the government,” he said. “The issue of Macedonia does not allow me to keep my seat. I thanked the prime minister, but on the national issue this cooperation cannot continue.”
“The national unity government functioned for four years. We managed to get our country out of memoranda with creditors. The first goal has been achieved,” the minister added.
Tsipras said after the meeting that he will seek a vote of confidence in the parliament, where his left-wing Syriza party has 145 legislators out of total 300.
In Greece, a confidence motion can be approved with half of the votes of the lawmakers present – with a minimum limit of 120 – and Tsipras said he would seek the majority mark of 151, and call elections in the case of failing to achieve it.
The Macedonian parliament approved the country’s name change to the Republic of North Macedonia on Friday, and an agreement in this regard is due to be ratified in the Greek parliament.
Athens had long objected to Macedonia’s name, claiming that it might help the neighboring country make territorial claims over Greece’s own region of the same name, before Tsipras signed an agreement with Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia in the center of the Balkan Peninsula, last year.