Tsipras, Mitsotakis Clash During Confidence Vote Debate in Parliament

(Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)

ATHENS – The debate on the vote of confidence in the government began in parliament at 12:00 noon on Tuesday morning.

The Conference of Presidents said the debate would end with a vote on Wednesday midnight.

The meeting also decided to postpone Monday’s scheduled discussion on an education ministry draft bill that was due to begin at noon.

Greece’s prime minister is defending his deal to normalize relations with neighboring FYROM ahead of a confidence vote in parliament after his governing coalition collapsed over the agreement.

Addressing lawmakers Tuesday, Alexis Tsipras said he chose to end the 27-year dispute over FYROM’s name, seizing “a great opportunity” despite the potential political cost to his government.

Tsipras is expected to narrowly win the vote late Wednesday.

In that case, he proposes within days to seek parliamentary ratification of the agreement with FYROM.

The deal will see the country renamed North Macedonia in return for Greece lifting its objections to its neighbor joining NATO and, eventually, the European Union.

FYROM has already fulfilled its part of the deal, formally ratifying the agreement and changing its constitution to incorporate the new name.

PM Alexis Tsipras during the debate on the vote of confidence in the government, Jan. 15, 2019. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras initiated the process on Sunday, sending a letter to Parliament President Nikos Voutsis asking him to make the necessary arrangements. The prime minister announced that he would ask parliament to renew its vote of confidence in the government, rather than make use of constitutional leeway to rule without an explicit majority, after the Independent Greeks (ANEL) party announced that it was withdrawing from the coalition with SYRIZA on Sunday.

ND’ s Mitsotakis accuses government of a ‘staged divorce’

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, addressing a parliamentary debate that will conclude with the holding of a vote of confidence in the government, spoke of a ‘staged divorced’ between the two partners in the coalition government, with three aims: to extend SYRIZA’s term in power, ratify the Prespes Agreement and help SYRIZA’s former coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) retain its parliamentary group.

ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, addressing a parliamentary debate that will conclude with the holding of a vote of confidence in the government, Jan. 15, 2019. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)

Mitsotakis also criticised the prime minister for choosing an serving senior military officer as a defence minister, noting that such a move was unprecedented and had not been adopted by any previous government.

ND’s leader accused the two former government partners of doing everything possible to promote their private political interests, including “dissolving parties, corrupting consciences, trampling on principles and undermining institutions.”

“The political life of the country has been turned into an unbelievable bazaar,” he said.

Referring to the prime minister, Mitsotakis accused him of having mortgaged the country’s future for decades in order to stay in power, adding that he is now plunging the country into an adventure to delay elections for a few more months.”

(Material from Athens-Macedonia News Agency and Associated Press was used in this report)

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras and ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the debate that will conclude with the holding of a vote of confidence in the government, Jan. 15, 2019. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)