Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
The draft bill “Ratification of the Protocol of the North Atlantic Treaty for the Accession of North Macedonia” was ratified by the plenary of the Hellenic Parliament on Friday after securing a majority of 153 votes.
During the roll-call voting procedure, all SYRIZA members plus eight independent deputies voted in favour; one independent voted present; while 5 of 6 absent deputies had voted against the draft bill by absentee ballot.
“Today’s vote closes the most important round of obligations involving Greece,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told parliament ahead of the vote.
“I’d like to welcome North Macedonia, a country friendly to Greece, a country that must be an ally in efforts to establish security, stability and peace in the region,” he said.
“History will judge us. I feel we have carried out our patriotic duty.”
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos crossed swords on Friday during a heated Parliament debate which ended with the ratification of “North Macedonia’s” NATO accession protocol with 153 for and 140 against.
In acrimonious exchanges laced with poetry and hints of dubious behind-the-scenes machinations during their coalition, Tsipras said he was fortunate to have had the foresight to realize that the ANEL leader had hatched a plan to overthrow the government. He also derided Kammenos’s stance since the coalition’s breakup as going against his “political history of the last four years.”
For his part, Kammenos described his former partner of four years as a “cold assassin,” blaming him for his party’s parliamentary dissolution. With the resignation last night of MP Thanasis Papachristopoulos, ANEL’s parliamentary group has fallen below the minimum of five MPs. His seat will go to Terens Quick, a deputy foreign minister.
“Prime Minister, you have committed a crime. I take responsibility for myself, but when it comes to ANEL, it is a crime I will never forget. You have decided to silence us,” Kammenos said, turning to the prime minister.
He also accused Tsipras of bribing former ANEL MPs to jump ship and side with the government in last month’s vote to ratify the Prespes accord in exchange for a ministerial post. He accused Tsipras of siding against him with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “You ought to have the sensitivity to respect principles,” he said.
PM ALEXIS TSIPRAS
National elections in Greece will take place at the end of the four-year term, in October, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday, responding to main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the plenary discussion on ratifying FYROM’s accession to NATO.
“In Greece, elections will be held at the end of the four-year term, you’d better get used to it,” Tsipras said, adding in reference to European Parliamentary elections in May, “you will suffer a terrible disappointment of your expectations at the European election ballot box,” because the Greek people will realise that polls giving Mitsotakis’ party New Democracy a lead “were fake.”
“All your narratives have been proven wrong,” Tsipras told the main opposition leader, “and you have fallen into all the traps you yourself set.” The day after national elections, the prime minister asserted, “you will have a major issue explaining to your party and the Greek people how the expectations you had cultivated were proven wrong.”
The prime minister acknowledged the differences in political opinions as “natural”, but said that there was always a limit to political disagreements and that Mitsotakis had exceeded it.
Responding to the ND leader’s criticism about the use of the name ‘Macedonia’ in the neighbour’s name, he said he would welcome the prime minister of the Republic of North Macedonia with the same name all other leaders call him, as prime minister of North Macedonia, and as Slavomacedonian prime minister. “But you would never do that, you would welcome him as a Skopjan. You would not do it because the nationalist tendency of your party won’t let you and because you will never become prime minister,” Tsipras said.
The prime minister called on Mitsotakis to treat national issues “more seriously” and of rushing to judge his visit to Ankara to meet with the Turkish president. He also accused him of taking his political stances “on the basis of the whims and wills of the extreme wing of your party instead of the country’s interests,” a stance that is “irresponsible and nationally dangerous.”
New Democracy may disagree with all issues of the government’s foreign policy, “but it doesn’t establish its position, it just disagrees with everything,” Tsipras said. He continued, “You disagree with a foreign policy that exudes self-confidence and recognition for Greece’s upgraded role internationally. But you don’t tell us what exactly your position is. You tell us: Don’t proceed to resolve the Macedonian issue, leave it as we did for 30 years. Don’t encourage the inclusion of the neighbouring country in the EU. Don’t proceed to talks that improve our relations with Albania. Don’t speak to Turkey.”
Tsipras also turned his criticism to Fofi Gennimata, leader of Movement for Change, asking her to define her position in European parties. “Listening to Mr. Mitsotakis’ positions, I understand that you countersign everything he says – your criticism of the government on all issues is from first to last identical to what Mr. Mitsotakis says.”
Wrapping up his address, the prime minister said, “Today’s brings to completion the most significant cycle of obligations resulting from the Prespes Agreement that relate to Greece. As of tomorrow, the obligations return to our neighbours,” who should send a formal request to all members of the United Nations and all other organisations, and to the 140 countries that currently recognise them as “Republic of Macedonia” to change that to “Republic of North Macedonia”.
“I would like once again from this podium to welcome North Macedonia, a friendly country to Greece, a country that should support instead of fighting our efforts to establish security, stability and cooperation in the greater region,” Tsipras said.
New Democracy (ND) will not ratify the protocol for the accession of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to NATO under its new name of Republic of North Macedonia because “this is the final act of an agreement that is damaging for the country”, party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday, addressing the plenary of the Greek parliament.
Mitsotakis also said that the Prespes Agreement, which his party rejected, far from being a balanced agreement, is an arrangement between the government and the result of a political quid pro quo. The agreement, resolving the name issue, was signed between Greece and FYROM in June 2018.
The main opposition leader also argued that the agreement goes against a standing national strategy, according to which Greece never accepted another country’s monopolizing of the term “Macedonia” and never recognized the existence of a separate “Macedonian” ethnicity.
For his part, Mitsotakis said, he does not ever intend to say the phrase “I welcome the Macedonian Prime Minister to the country.”
He continued by accusing Tsipras of hypocrisy for referring to ND as a far-right party, when from the beginning of his term and until recently SYRIZA was in coalition with the populist far-right which Independent Greeks (ANEL), the party of Panos Kammenos, represents.
Mitsotakis then stressed that, in principle, ND never objected to the neighbour country’s accession to NATO but it does object to granting it a “Macedonian” identity, ethnicity and language in the process.
In conclusion, Mitsotakis reiterated his position that ND will not renounce its right to veto the accession of FYROM in the European Union, and his call for national elections immediately.
“North Macedonia must become a member of NATO,” Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis said in parliament on Friday, during a debate on the NATO accession protocol for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) under its new name as “Republic of North Macedonia”.
Theodorakis said, “I’m surprised because we have a government that will vote for a NATO choice while applauding the Maduro regime” in Venezuela. “I’m also surprised because on my right there is a main opposition that supports NATO’s policy but will tonight vote against the accession of a small Balkan country to NATO. I’m surprised and stand by the Greek people, who are trying to figure out what is happening in the country,” he added.
Theodorakis denied that Potami voted for the Prespes Agreement under pressure from the US embassy, and condemned main opposition New Democracy for promoting blind nationalism among Greeks. “You persist in rejecting a choice of peace, security and stability in the Balkans and consider this agreement catastrophic. (…) In that case, why not do the obvious and clarify simply and quickly that as the next Greek government, you will veto our neighbours’ accession process into the EU from the very first day?” he added.
The Independent Greeks (ANEL) will not ratify the protocol of the accesion of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in NATO, parliamentary representative Maria Kollia-Tsaroucha said, in a debate prior to the vote on Friday.
“Our conscience dictates that we reject any agreement under the counterfeit name of ‘Macedonia’,” she said, referring to the Prespes Agreement signed between Greece and FYROM, which settled the name issue of Greece’s neighbour as “Republic of North Macedonia”.
The representative of the former ruling coalition partner then called on all colleagues to avoid “the mistake of supporting the neighbouring country’s accession to NATO.”
The Democratic Coalition (DISY), which includes PASOK and the Democratic Left, will not ratify the accession protocol for FYROM to join NATO, parliamentary group spokesman Andreas Loverdos said on Friday.
At the debate in the Greek parliament, Loverdos said the party’s decision is consistent with its rejection vote on the Prespes Agreement. The NATO protocol is being ratified “while the Greek people are divided” over the issue, he said, and he compared it with the 2008 Bucharest talks which he said “produced no friction because the political system had been briefed” and “three of four parties in parliament had agreed with the strategy.”