New Democracy Demands Release of Kotzias Resignation Letter

New Democracy headquarters in Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)

ATHENS – The major opposition New Democracy said Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras must release the nine-page resignation letter of former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias who quit when the Premier backed Defense Minister Panos Kammenos over him in a dispute over the deal to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

New Democracy lawmaker Giorgos Koumoutsakos, who served as a foreign ministry spokesman in a previous government, said the Kotzias vs Kammenos scenario was baffling.

He also said it was incomprehensible that Kotzias, in his last act, would extend Greece’s territorial waters in the Ionian Sea from 6 to 12 miles but that Tsipras, who took over as Foreign Minister, would later declare that it requires legislative approval, further confusing the issue.

Kotzias’ declaration of the sea boundaries extension irked Turkey, which fears Greece could try to do the same in the Aegean where Turkish warships have been provoking further tensions.

The bitterness between Kotzias and Kammenos, leader of the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who are junior partners in the coalition government – Tsipras needs the tiny party’s votes to have a scant three-vote majority in Parliament also continued.

Kotzias said Kammenos accused US billionaire George Soros of funding Greece’s government’s attempts to promote the deal to rename FYROM as North Macedonia and open the door to NATO and European Union accession talks.

Kotzias said the rancor with Kammenos, which occurred during a Cabinet meeting, saw the Defense Minister throw barbs at him while the Prime Minister and other ministers sat on their hands and they didn’t come to his defense, leading him to quit in a huff.

Kammenos opposes the FYROM name deal and has threatened to yank his party from the coalition if it come to a vote in Parliament but also said he wouldn’t stand in the way of the agreement, allowing him to keep his usual tactic of having it both ways so he can seem to defy the government while supporting it to keep himself in power.