March 18, 2019

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Greek Leader Calls for Vote of Confidence After Minister Quits Over Macedonia Deal

Greek Leader Calls for Vote of Confidence After Minister Quits Over Macedonia Deal
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LONDON — Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called on Sunday for an “immediate” vote of confidence in the Greek government, hours after the defense minister announced that he would quit the governing coalition over a deal with Macedonia on its name change.

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos’s decision came days after Macedonian lawmakers agreed to officially change the country’s name to the Republic of North Macedonia, ending a long dispute and opening the door for the small Balkan nation’s membership in NATO and the European Union.

If other members of Mr. Kammenos’s right-wing minority coalition party, the Independent Greeks, quit, it would most likely result in a minority Greek government.

The vote of confidence is expected to take place in Parliament on Thursday.

“For almost four years I had an honorable and honest cooperation with Panos Kammenos,” Mr. Tsipras said in a statement, thanking the defense minister for his “irreplaceable, important contribution” to the government.

After months of friction with Mr. Tsipras over the Macedonia name change, Mr. Kammenos, founder of the Independent Greeks, said on Sunday that he would step down as defense minister and as part of the governing coalition.

“This coalition cannot go on,” he said in a statement, adding at a news conference that it was with a heavy heart that he would have to say no to the Macedonia deal.

“The matter of Macedonia does not allow me not to sacrifice the ministerial chair,” he declared.

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