ATHENS – Greece’s former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias said he will sue former defense minister Panos Kammenos for slander over corruption claims as the two intensified their Hatfields-McCoys-like feud.
Kotzias quit the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition after being verbally attacked in a Cabinet meeting by Kammenos – who was backed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras over his long-time ally Kotzias with the Premier needing the seven votes of Kammeos’ Independent Greeks (ANEL) to have a three-vote majority in Parliament.
The dispute was triggered by Kammenos’ objections to the deal Kotzias made with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to be called North Macedonia – giving away the name of an ancient abutting Greek province.
The agreement would also see residents of what would be North Macedonia be called Macedonians and have a Macedonian language, culture and identity and lift Greek vetoes on the country getting into NATO and opening European Union accession talks.
Since the fallout, Kotzias and Kammenos – who took his party out of the administration over the FYROM question – have been going at each other intensively, each accusing the other of wrongdoing and getting personal.
Kammenos, during the Cabinet meeting, hinted that Kotzias wasn’t properly handling a secret slush fund, setting in motion the growing tension that is keeping up even though neither is no longer in the government.
“The prosecutor will deal with that gentleman,” Kotzias told News 24/7. Taking another shot at Kammenos, he noted that the former defense chief had been a member of the major rival New Democracy before breaking off to form ANEL and had backed former Conservative Premier Costas Karamanlis before joining a far-left government.
Kotzias didn’t let it go by either that Kammenos had declared him “the best foreign minister (Greece) ever had,” in a further shot and indicated that his former colleague was reacting to falling out of favor in polls showing ANEL won’t return to Parliament.
Kotzias denied he had an improper relationship with US-Hungarian billionaire financier George Soros, calling Kammenos a “slanderer” and a “liar” for suggesting otherwise.