ATHENS – It’s too late, but Greece’s junior coalition partner wants Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to change the deal he’s already made to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), giving away the name of an abutting Greek province.
Panagiotis Sgouridis, Vice-President of the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic, populist Independent Greeks (ANEL) called for revisions after FYROM Premier Zoran Zaev reportedly said there was a Slavic “Macedonian” minority in Greece who should speak “Macedonian,” not Greek.
Sgouridis said Zaev’s remarks triggered Article 19 of the deal which stipulates that “in the event that a party considers that the other party is not acting in accordance with the provisions of (the) agreement, this party shall first notify the other party of its concerns and shall seek a solution by negotiation.”
Speaking to Thema radio, Sgouridis said, however he didn’t know whether his party’s leader, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos – who is also opposed to the deal – had talked about Zaev’s remarks with the anti-nationalist Tsipras.
Kammenos said his party’s seven lawmakers, key to giving the government a three-vote majority in Parliament, would vote against it and that he would take ANEL out of the administration – but that he wouldn’t stand in the way of the deal either, contradicting himself repeatedly.
FYROM has already okayed the agreement that would left Greek vetoes and allow the country to enter NATO under the name North Macedonia and open European Union accession talks if Greece ratifies it.
Sgouridis also said that ANEL would withdraw from the government if Tsipras brings the deal to Parliament, which could collapse the coalition although Tsipras said he’s confident he has enough votes from rival parties to at least push through the name change for FYROM and end a 26-year-long feud between the countries.