Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias reportedly accused Defense Minister Panos Kammenos of trying to undermine a deal the anti-nationalist Radical Left SYRIZA made to change the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) that would open the door to NATO entry and European Union accession talks.
Kammenos is leader of SYRIZA's junior coalition partner, the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) and opposed the deal while saying he would yank his party if it comes to a vote in Parliament, which could bring down the government.
During an official visit to the United States, Kammenos told US officials there was an “alternative plan” to change FYROM's name to North Macedonia and said the agreement made by Kotzias and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wouldn't be ratified by FYROM lawmakers and is upset Greece's government wants to give away the name of Macedonia, an ancient abutting Greek province.
Kotzias, who brokered the deal along with FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov after months of negotiations, accused Kammenos – who said Kotzias was the greatest foreign chief in Greek history – of taking a stance harmful to the government to serve his own personal and political ambitions after polls put ANEL at around 1 percent, unidentified sources told Kathimerini.
That's not enough to return to Parliament in the next elections, leading analysts to say a desperate Kammenos is now trying to distance himself from the government he serves after repeatedly violating his alleged principles so he could stay in power.
Kotzias said Kammenos' comments during his US visit, where he suggested a Balkan alliance instead of the FYROM name deal violated terms of the pact, the paper said, but when asked by reporters later if there was a clash oiver Kammenos responded curtly that, “I don't know.”
Opening the cabinet meeting where Kotzias spoke, Tsipras called on his ministers to pledge that they will never side with its major rival, the poll-leading New Democracy who oppose the deal.
Kammenos has repeatedly contradicted himself and that he would not bring down the government over the deal, which is what would happen with ANEL's seven votes, which give the coalition a three-vote majority.
“I maintain my view over the name of FYROM. I will never join in the effort to overthrow the government,” he reportedly said according to government sources cited by state-run news agency ANA-MPA.