ATHENS – Former defense minister Panos Kammenos, who quit the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition in opposition to the deal that renamed The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as North Macedonia, said Greece’s military – if needed – could take down its neighbor fast.
Tearing into the deal in an interview with TV station TRT, he said that, “We do not feel any threat. Skopje is a 20-minute job. If a troop of tanks decided to cross the border, it will reach the other side of Skopje. It will reach Serbia,” he said.
He was referring to the capital of North Macedonia and also tore into Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who he said deceived him by saying the vote on the deal wouldn’t be brought to Parliament until March, blindsiding Kammenos, leader of the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks who have fallen to around 1 percent in polls.
That’s far below the 3 percent threshold needed to return to the body in elections that must be be held by October, but likely sooner with Tsipras said to be anxious to keep the poll-leading major rival New Democracy Conservatives from running away and with two-thirds of Greeks angry over the North Macedonia name deal.
Bitterness spilling over, Kammenos also said the architect of the North Macedonia deal, former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias – who quit after Tsipras backed the former defense minister over him in a Cabinet meeting, “acted treacherously” to him.
Kammenos had called Kotzias the greatest foreign chief in Greek history but the two have engaged in furious public feuds and name-calling in the wake of the name deal that saw Tsipras jettisoning both of them.