Friday, July 06, 2018

Greek defence minister: no ratification for Macedonia deal

The head of the Greek government’s junior coalition partner said Tuesday he will not allow a deal the country recently made with neighboring Macedonia over the latter’s name to be ratified until it has voter approval, either through general elections or a referendum.

The statements by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who is the head of the right-wing Independent Greeks party, indicate he is prepared to bring down the coalition government over the deal that renames Greece’s northern neighbor North Macedonia.

“The deal for me is bad. I do not accept this deal, and I will try to block it,” Kammenos said.

Greece has long objected to use of the term “Macedonia,” saying it implies claims on the Greek province of the same name. The deal reached last month has met with strong objections in both countries, with opponents saying it concedes too much to the other side. Several demonstrations in Greece over the issue have turned violent.

Greece’s parliament is to vote on the deal only after Macedonia has completed all steps required on its part, which includes constitutional changes. Macedonia’s parliament recently ratified the deal, but the country’s conservative president has refused to sign off on it.

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