Greek FM resigns over dispute on Macedonia name deal

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has urged deputies in Macedonia to ratify the name change

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias submitted his resignation which was accepted Wednesday by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after several days of feuding with Defense Minister Panos Kammenos over the Prespes Agreement.

A loud clash with Kammenos in the Greek cabinet meeting on Tuesday was the ostensible cause for Kotzias' action, wherein Kammenos reportedly claimed Kotzias was mismanaging secret foreign ministry reserve funds and closely coordinating other efforts with billionaire George Soros.

The decision to assume the Foreign Ministry himself marks his decisiveness in doing whatever possible to guarantee the successful completion of the historic agreement on the name row which was reached in June this year after marathon UN-mediated negotiations, the Greek Premier said.

The "name" agreement reached this summer between Athens and Skopje met stark opposition from right-wing forces Greece and Macedonia.

Tsipras' acceptance of Kotzias's resignation signalled he was willing to sacrifice one of his closest political allies to keep his fragile coalition government - comprising his left-wing Syriza party and Kammenos's Independent Greeks - in power.

"The decision to accept Kotzias' resignation and my decision to act also as Foreign Minister from now on is a decision with many messages overseas as well as domestically, for my government, I would say".

As Greek foreign minister Nikos Kotsias was one of the architects of the deal with Macedonia to change its name
Greek FM resigns over dispute on Macedonia name deal

Both Tsipras and Zaev have staked major political capital on the name deal, which is strongly promoted by the European Union and the United States, despite strong objections and protests in both of the countries involved.

However, this disagreement risk to bring down the coalition government of Alexis Tsipras, who has only a slight majority.

Since Macedonia declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, Greece has blocked the young republic's path to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership over objections to its use of the term Macedonia, arguing it implied a territorial claim on Greece's own northern Macedonia province. "And the quicker this farce ends, the better", New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

The deal is in limbo after the referendum at the end of September (30 Sept) in FYROM when less than the minimum required turned out to make it valid.

"It's perfectly clear today that Mr Tsipras is not just a weak prime minister".

The amendments need a two-thirds vote in parliament for approval and now are several lawmakers short of passage.

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