Threats Against Former Foreign Chief Kotzias Rankle Tsipras

FILE - Former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias speaking at event in the Cretan city of Irakleio. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Stefanos Rapanis)

ATHENS – They had fallen out, but Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras came galloping to the defense of former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias who said he was being threatened for fashioning a deal to give away the name of Macedonia in a new name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in a deal between the countries.

The anti-nationalist Tsipras had sided with his junior coalition partner, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, leader of the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL), who had clashed with Kotzias in a Cabinet meeting over the name giveaway.

Needing ANEL’s seven votes to keep a scant three-vote majority in Parliament, Tsipras backed Kammenos instead of his close confidant Kotzias, who quit in a huff and walked away from the government.

Kotzias said he continues to get threats over the deal opposed by some 62-65 percent of Greeks, which he and Tsipras ignored, along with protest rallies in Athens and in Thessaloniki, the country’s second-biggest city and in the ancient province of Macedonia.

“The threats against the life of Nikos Kotzias is yet another proof of where blind nationalism and stoking hatred leads to,” Tsipras said said.

“Nikos Kotzias served the country with dedication and decisiveness as foreign minister and nobody, with whatever excuse, can question his patriotism, and even more so threaten his life with fascist insolence and cowardice,” he added.

The radical Pratto movement he heads reported that he had received phone call threats, as he had earlier over the deal to call FYROM as North Macedonia, open the door for NATO and European Union entry and let its citizens be called Macedonians, and have a Macedonian language and culture. Some SYRIZA elements don’t believe in borders.

There was no information on what the threats were or if they were directed at his life but Pratto said they were also linked to his former plan while in office to review secret funds managed by the ministries of defence, interior and the National Intelligence Agency (EYP).

Pratto blamed Kammenos and the main opposition New Democracy for making Kotzias with a target with statement the group said was “creating the conditions for foolish people to turn against him.”