ATHENS – Repeatedly changing his position, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, leader of the Independent Greeks (ANEL) has gone back to saying he will quit his position and take his party out of a coalition with the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA if a vote to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) comes to a vote in Parliament.
His tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic party’s seven votes give the government a scant three-vote majority but he said he can’t abide the deal the anti-nationalist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made to give away the name of the ancient Greek province of Macedonia to let FYROM be called North Macedonia and its citizens have a Macedonian language, culture and identity.
Kammenos has alternately said while he opposes the deal that he wouldn’t bring down the government over the issue but has changed his mind and stance a number of times as his party has fallen about 1 percent in polls, far under the 3 percent threshold needed to get back into Parliament in the next elections next year.
In a statement to armed forces officials in Larissa he accused FYROM’s government of “deciding to pursue its irredentist intentions,” saying that means the deal is dead in his mind after he said he still support SYRIZA and Tsipras.
Kammenos said he was upset that FYROM Premier Zoran Zaev keeps referring to a Macedonia identity and language even though it’s part of the deal and as FYROM’s Parliament moved to remove other claims on Greek lands and territories, including the real Macedonia and second-largest city and major port of Thessaloniki.
Former Premier and ex-New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras, who, as Foreign Minister in 1991 opposed a deal his party made to let the new country emerging from the collapse of Yugoslavia to call itself FYROM and use the name of Macedonia brought down the government, said Tsipras is doing it again.
“I was opposed to giving the name Macedonia, because the name will ethnicity and language and demands for recognition of minority rights in Greece. All the previous prime ministers had refused it, Mr. Tsipras accepted it,” he told delegates at the party’s 12th conference.
“He is dangerous for many reasons but mainly because he has no red lines; everything they ask him to do, he does it. His compliance towards powerful and powerless neighbors is unprecedented, and he does not do it out of necessity – he does it by choice,” said Samaras.