ATHENS – Greece's former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, who quit in a huff after Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras wouldn't back him in a spat with Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, said the Premier threw him under the bus for political interests.
“Tsipras behaved like Pontius Pilate,” Kotzias told News 24, a reference to the Roman Governor who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus Christ but washed his hands of the matter.
Kotzias was the architect of a deal to let the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) be renamed North Macedonia, keeping the name of an ancient abutting Greek province, angering Kammenos, leader of the junior coalition partner the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who oppose the agreement.
Needing ANEL's seven votes to have a scant three-vote majority in Parliament, Tsipras decided he needed Kammenos more than his friend Kotzias, essentially ditching him and leading to the foreign minister writing a long letter of resignation which still hasn't been made public.
Kotizas and Kammenos clashed in a fiery Cabinet meeting during which Kotzias said Tsipras sat on his hands and wouldn't defend him or the deal he made with the consent of the anti-nationalist Tsipras.
“When a person is undermining government policy, (the policy)] must be defended in public. This did not happen during the cabinet meeting after which I resigned,” Kotzias said, the latest member of SYRIZA to take shots at the party's leader who has abandoned them to stay in power.
He said a number campaigns to promote the agreement in northern Greece were ditched “so as not to upset the coalition partner,” meaning Kammenos, who said he will have his party vote against the deal if it comes to a vote in the Greek Parliament and take his party out of the government – but that he would not stand in the way or deal nor bring down the government, a contradiction he has repeated while waffling a number of times on what he would do.