Daily Management Review

Macedonia ignites political crisis in Greece


An agreement to change the name of Macedonia, which opens the way for the country to the EU and NATO, will sooner or later lead to early elections in Greece.

The news negative for the euro zone came from the south of the continent. A political crisis is brewing in Greece, which came out of the last aid program last year and is now trying to rebuild the economy after a severe recession. Nationalist party "Independent Greeks" headed by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos is leaving the ruling coalition. This event deprives "Syrisa", headed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, of the majority in parliament and almost automatically leads to a vote of confidence in the government. In the event of an unsuccessful result for Tsipras in Greece, early elections will be held.

The reason for the exit of Panos Kammenos from the ruling coalition was Macedonia. The dispute between Athens and Skopje over the name of Macedonia has been dragging on for seven decades. In Greece, they believe that such a name should be attributed only to the northern Greek province, where Alexander the Great received the nickname Macedonian more than two thousand years ago. For many years, Macedonia refused to comply with Greece’s demand to replace the name of the country, but in recent years the situation has changed. The Macedonian authorities were going to join the EU and NATO, but faced the veto of Greece, which is part of both organizations. The consent of Greece is as important as that of all other members of the EU and NATO.

Athens’ condition for the removal of the veto was to replace the name of Macedonia. In June 2018, Alexis Tsipras and the Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev agreed that Macedonia will replace the name with “Republic of North Macedonia”. Despite the fact that results of the referendum on the replacement of the name should be considered invalid because of the extremely low turnout, Zaev’s government declared the results of the referendum valid and sent the bill to parliament. Last week, the Macedonian parliament approved the name change. Now the replacement of the name should be made in the form of an amendment to the Constitution of Macedonia. After this, an agreement between Tsipras and Zaev should be approved by the Greek parliament. However, nationalists, led by Panos Kammenos, object to this. Kammenos warned in advance that in the event of a vote in the Greek parliament for agreement with Macedonia, he and his party members would leave the ruling coalition, and now he fulfilled the threat. He insists that the word “Macedonia” be removed from the name of the neighboring country. Tsipras’ party has only 145 seats in the 300-seat parliament of Greece. This means that the loss of seven deputies from the “Independent Greeks” deprives Syriza of the majority.

By the way, the collapse of the ruling coalition will not affect the result of the vote on an agreement with Zaev, because many deputies from other parties will support him. However, sooner or later, the absence of a majority will force Prime Minister to hold early elections, in which, according to polls, the center-right opposition, led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, will win.

Political analysts believe that Alexis Tsipras will try to hold the early elections ahead of elections to the European Parliament on May 23, in which his party will face a serious defeat. However, the victory of the opposition in the elections most likely will not mean the end of the political crisis, because the center-right will hardly get enough votes to create a one-party government.

source: reuters.com