ATHENS – Powerless to stop a deal Greece made to for a newly-named North Macedonia, former defense minister Panos Kammenos said it should be called off because of what he claimed were repeated violations of the terms.
Kammenos is leader of the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who were the junior partners in the coalition led by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whom he served before leaving in protest over the deal.
The anti-nationalist Tsipras, ending a near 28-year feud between the Balkan neighbors, pushed through the deal that changed the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), despite opposition from two-thirds of Greeks in surveys.
The agreement gave away permanently the name of the ancient Greek province of Macedonia and gave citizens of North Macedonia the right to call themselves Macedonians and have a Macedonian language, culture and identity, anathema to Kammenos and some in ANEL, although the party lost defectors to SYRIZA.
Trying to defend the record of ANEL, hovering around 1 percent in polls – below the 3 percent threshold needed to get back into Parliament in elections this year – he told Antenna TV that his party would “once more play a key role” in politics.
He didn’t explain how that would happen if he and his marginal party are voted out and would have no say in politics anymore, after he reversed his anti-austerity vows to back more harsh measures so he could become defense minister.
He also called for a national unity government that would exclude “extremist figures” from SYRIZA and New Democracy, the two parties with the most support, not explaining how there could be government without them and as he won’t accept the KKE Communists nor the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn.
“We ask for the vote of the Greek people so that we have the power to defend [our principles] on matters pertaining to national issues, Orthodox religion and international affairs,” Kammenos said.
He added that he reversed his alleged principles to make sure Greece had a patriotic and pro-western foreign policy. “Alexis Tsipras could not have implemented a more right-wing – in the good sense – foreign policy,” without him, he said.