Opposition from Defense Minister Panos Kammenos isn’t enough to derail a deal to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Dimitris Papadimoulis, a Member of the European Parliament for the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA said.
Also a Vice-President of the EU body, he said there’s enough votes to insure the agreement made by the anti-nationalist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to call FYROM as North Macedonia and remove vetoes keeping Greece’s neighbor out of NATO and opening European Union accession talks is passed.
FYROM has closed on final ratification of the deal which gives away the name of the ancient Greek province of Macedonia and allows citizens of what legally would be called North Macedonia to identity as Macedonians, with a Macedonian language, culture and identity.
The agreement could reach the Greek Parliament in February or March, 2019 where Kammenos, leader of the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks who are junior partners in the coalition headed by SYRIZA said he will have his seven members vote against it.
But Tsipras and other SYRIZA officials are confident there’s enough votes from rival parties to get the deal through and that Kammenos won’t stick to his word – he often doesn’t – of taking his party out of the coalition, which would bring down the government unless Tsipras can find another partner.
“Regardless of Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos’ position, which is well known and respected, I think that the Prespes Agreement will be ratified, and in the last few days further arguments have been added that justify this estimate,” Papadimoulis told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency’s radio station Praktoreio 104.9 FM.
Contradicting terms of the deal, he said that FYROM has already removed all claims on Greek lands, including the real Macedonia and second-largest city and major port of Thessaloniki and that the agreement doesn’t talk of ethnicity but nationality.
Surveys show 62-65 percent of Greeks also opposed but Tsipras defended the name giveaway, saying 140 other countries already call FYROM by Macedonia – as does FYROM in violation of a 1991 agreement with the then-ruling New Democracy which allowed the new country emerging from the collapse of Yugoslavia to take it in what was supposed to be a temporary acronym.