Macedonia name deal threatens Greek government

Independent Greeks party cautions it will leave the ruling coalition

Photo: EPA President of Independent Greeks (ANEL) party and Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos

Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos threatened on Wednesday to pull his nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) party from the government if a name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is put to a vote in the parliament, rather than a referendum.

"I will not allow this deal to go through," he told the Greek internet radio.
His announcement comes after Greece and Macedonia reached an historic agreement Tuesday to end a bitter 27-year name dispute that had kept the smaller and younger country out of international institutions such as NATO. Greece‘s PMs Alexis Tsipras and Macedonia‘s Zoran Zaev said the former Yugoslav republic‘s new name for both domestic and international purposes would be Republic of North Macedonia.

Macedonia will also amend its constitution to reflect the change as part of the deal. The nationality of the country‘s citizens will be listed on official documents in English as "Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia," Greek officials said. Zaev said the deal would be signed this weekend, and a voter referendum would be held in the fall. Greek MPs are also set to vote on the deal in September.

NATO and European Union officials welcomed the breakthrough, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said would help consolidate regional peace and stability. EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and commissioner Johannes Hahn issued a joint statement congratulating the two prime ministers "in reaching this historic agreement between their countries, which contributes to the transformation of the entire region of South-East Europe."

European Council President Donald Tusk also tweeted his "sincere congratulations" to Tsipras and Zaev. "I am keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks to you, the impossible is becoming possible," he said.

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