Greek lawmakers mull no-confidence vote over Macedonia name

Clay Curtis
June 17, 2018

Leftist premier Tsipras controls 154 of the 300 votes in the parliament and is expected to survive the vote.

Some protesters threw firebombs and stones at the police.

"This is the most forward-looking deal the country has ever had in its hands", said Interior Minister Panos Skourletis. Greece argued that the name "Macedonia" implied territorial claims on its province of the same name, which is the birthplace of the ancient warrior king Alexander the Great, and usurped its ancient Greek heritage and history. That would leave Tsipras dependent on the support of opposition parties.

The provisional accord is to be signed in the fishing village of Psarades on the Prespes Lakes by the respective foreign ministers and longterm United Nations envoy Matthew Nimetz, with Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev in attendance.

But from the moment the details emerged, a political storm erupted in both countries. In the agreement, Athens would drop its objections to the country joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.

He said that the good-neighbourliness treaty was "one of the biggest motivations for reforms in the Republic of Macedonia" and the same was true for the agreement with Greece.

In Greece, the deal only faces ratification in parliament once Macedonia has completed its part of the process. Opponents include the conservative opposition party and the country’s president Gjorge Ivanov, who has said he will not sign off on the agreement.

In Athens, there is anger over the government's acceptance that its neighbour will be able to refer to its language and ethnicity as "Macedonian".

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But to Macedonians, who have espoused this identity since the days of Yugoslavia's Marshal Tito, the notion of revising their name and constitution is anathema. If Ivanov refuses to sign off on the deal, it will be sent back to parliament for a second vote.

Few thought resolving Macedonia's name dispute would be easy.

Analysts gushed that the diplomatic breakthrough could pave the way for Macedonia to join the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and allow the Balkans to shift focus to other pressing issues.

"We will not divide the Greeks in order to unite the (Macedonians)", he said.

Two short wars were then fought in 1912 and 1913 between the Balkan states and the Ottoman Empire to end six centuries of rule from Istanbul, with atrocities committed by both sides.

He said that it was unlikely that the Greek opposition's motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras would succeed.

After years of on-again, off-again talks, it was announced earlier this week that Macedonia would change its name to Severna Makedonja (Northern Macedonia), under a deal worked out by the prime ministers of both countries.

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