Greek Leader Takes Over as Foreign Minister, Too

Clay Curtis
October 20, 2018

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accepted the resignation of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Wednesday and will himself take over the foreign affairs portfolio, Tsipras's office said.

Kotzias was unhappy following an argument with Defense Minister Panos Kammenos at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Kathimerini reported on its website, without citing anyone.

Greece's foreign minister resigned Wednesday following a disagreement with the defense minister over the handling of a deal for Greece to drop its objections to neighboring Macedonia joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation if the small country's name is changed.

Implementing a multidimensional and active foreign policy decided by the Prime Minister himself, Nikos Kotzias has achieved tremendous successes in Greek foreign policy, giving prominence to Greece as a pillar of stability and security for the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean by solving chronic problems that Greece's global relations had been beset by for decades.

Greece will not accept the neighboring state's accession to the European Union or NATO without the new name agreed in June (Republic of North Macedonia), he said.

"I will not accept any double messages from now on from anyone, no personal opinion relating to the country's national policy, expressed consciously or not, that disrupts the country's smooth path", Tsipras told reporters.

Kammenos, who heads the small right-wing Independent Greeks party, is vehemently against the accord with Macedonia and has said he could quit the government over it.

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Greece has long argued that use of the term Macedonia by its northern neighbor harbored territorial claims on its own northern province of the same name.

Now everything is in the hands of Alexis Tsipras, who, as the Prime Minister of Greece and President of the Government has to cut the Gordian knot causing an imbroglio within the government while also complicating the relations of SYRIZA's partners in governing the governing.

The irony of his departing to keep Kammenos and his party in the government was not lost on the centre-right opposition party New Democracy, which is leading in the polls.

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.

New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday called Tsipras "weak".

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

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

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