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Kotzias resigns over Macedonia deal dispute

Greece’s foreign minister resigned Wednesday following a disagreement with the defense minister over the handling of a deal with Macedonia

Oct 19

08:25
2018

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 NATO if the small country’s name is changed.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accepted Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias’ resignation announced he would take over the helm of the Foreign Ministry himself “to help with all his powers in the successful completion” of the name change deal, his office said.

Kotzias quit his post a day after a Cabinet meeting during which he reportedly had a heated argument with Defense Minister Panos Kammenos over the Macedonia deal and felt he didn’t receive sufficient support from colleagues or the prime minister.

“The PM and a series of ministers made their choices in yesterday’s (cabinet) meeting, and then I made mine,” Kotzias wrote on Twitter.

Speaking to reporters later, Tsipras warned he would not tolerate disagreements within his government on the deal with Macedonia, which settled a decades-long dispute and which Tsipras negotiated with his Macedonian counterpart.

“(I will) not put up with any double talk from anybody or with any personal strategies,” Tsipras said. Kammenos, who heads the governing coalition’s junior party, opposes the agreement reached in June and has threatened to leave the coalition if the pact comes to parliament for ratification.

Kotzias was angered by statements the defense minister made during a recent trip to the United States that raised the possibility of an alternative to the name deal, countering current Greek government and U.S. policies.

Under the agreement that remains several steps from completion, the country would change its name to North Macedonia in return for the chance to join NATO and the European Union.