Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
The Coalition Government of the leftist SYRIZA party and right wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) broke down on Sunday – after four years of cooperation – due to disagreement on the Prespes Agreement with FYROM. ANEL’s leader and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos submitted his resignation that was accepted by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who will seek to renew the mandate of his government by immediately asking for a vote of confidence in Parliament.
Parliament President Nikos Voutsis informed reporters that he intends to recommend that the debate on a vote of confidence in the government begin on Tuesday afternoon and end with a vote on Wednesday.
Only Panos Kammenos who is Defense Minister and his Deputy Minister Maria Kollia-Tsaroucha, will resign their government posts. Kammenos will be replaced by the chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis.
As “Kathimerini” newspaper reports, the SYRIZA government is expected to remain in power, since SYRIZA itself has 145 deputies, and can count on the positive votes of Citizens Security deputy Minister, Katerina Papacosta, To Potami deputy Spyros Danellis, as well as four Independent Greeks deputies, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, Agriculture Deputy Minister Vassilis Kokkalis, and deputies Thanassis Papachristopoulos and Costas Zouraris. They add up to 151. The final tally could be 152, if Centrist Union MP Yannis Saridis, who recently voted in favor of the government’s budget, opts for a positive vote too.
Panos Kammenos announced on Sunday announced that his party is withdrawing from Greece’s coalition government after a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras failed to bridge their differences over the Prespes Agreement.
“I met with the prime minister. We had quite a long discussion. There was a cooperation lasting four whole years in a government of national unity… two parties from different areas came together and succeeded in extricating Greece from the memorandums. The first goal was achieved,” Kammenos told reporters as he left the Maximos Mansion and the meeting with the prime minister.
“The issue of Macedonia, an issue for which thousands were killed, doesn’t permit me to not sacrifice the seat [in government],” he added, saying that detailed announcements will be made in a press conference later on Sunday.
“I thanked the prime minister for our cooperation and explained to him that due to the national issue this cooperation cannot continue. ANEL are withdrawing from the government,” he concluded.
Speaking at a press conference, after he announced his decision to resign as defense minister and withdraw from the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government,
Independent Greeks (ANEL) party leader Panos Kammenos made it clear that the MPs in his parliamentary group will not cast a vote of confidence in the government. A vote supporting the government would be tantamount to supporting the Prespes Agreement, he said.
“No solution that uses the term Macedonia was the decision of the first and third conference,” Kammenos told reporters. “For precisely this and only this reason, I announced to the prime minister today that ANEL are withdrawing from the government,” he said.
He suggested that the tabling of a vote of confidence was the result of “hypersensitivity” on the part of the prime minister.
Kammenos said that anyone “trading their vote for a government position” will be expelled from ANEL and added that those voting against will include himself, Maria Kollia-Tsaroucha and Kostas Katsikis. Two other lawmakers, eccentric ally Costas Zouraris, who is not a party member, and Athanassios Papachristopoulos, have declared their support for the name deal and are likely to back the government, as well. Kammenos said that both had informed him about their position well in advance and called their views an “honest disagreement.”
He was not as warm about the two remaining deputies, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura and Deputy Agriculture Minister Vassilis Kokkalis, both of whom, Kammenos hinted, want to keep their portfolios. In this case, they would be excluded from the party, Kammenos said.
Kammenos praised Kountoura’s work and admitted her trip abroad had long been scheduled. “But she seems to have left her phone with her police escort,” Kammenos said.
Kokkalis, who has declared he will oppose ratification of the name deal, “discovered recently that he had to make a trip to China,” Kammenos said, not hiding his sarcasm. “I hope he reads the newspapers (to find about the news)” Kammenos added.
But the irrepressible outgoing defense minister reserved his greatest scorn for Deputy Foreign Minister Terence Quick, who is not an MP (although he may become one if, as he has promised, Papachristopoulos resigns his seat after voting for the deal) but has indicated he wants to continue in government. This is the person, Kammenos said in feigned amusement, who was adamantly against joining Syriza in government, saying he wanted nothing to do with the left and who “was shedding tears over Macedonia.” Kammenos also revealed that, during the stormy cabinet session in which he had attacked then-Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias over the FYROM deal, leading to Kotzias’ resignation, Quick had taken Kotzias’ side.
The press conference would not be complete without Kammenos attacking opponents right and left, accusing them of waging a constant war against his party ever since it had entered Parliament in 2012. There were the usual accusations of blackmail and corruption. He also did not fail to attack the 37 lawmakers who, at one point or another over the past four legislatures, deserted the party. “All of them vanished. None were elected to anything, not even city councillors,” he said.
As for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, he called it “that creation of Mussolini and Tito” as if the two had cooperated in setting it up, whose existence “perpetuates the communist and fascist lies.”
Kammenos, who denied being politically positioned on the hard right, called on all “patriots” to either join or cooperate with him at the next election. He also said he would prefer a referendum on the name issue, to be held on the same day as the elections to the European Parliament (also to city and regional councils) that will take place in May 2019.
A video that surfaced in social media showed Kammenos attending mass and taking communion before meeting with Tsipras, his now former partner.
Deputy Foreign Minister Marina Chrysoveloni, an MP with the Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, on Sunday said that she fully stands by every word of the statement that she made on January 8, in which she noted that “the present government must complete its term” since it had entered “its most productive, creative and positive phase”.
In the same statement, Chrysoveloni noted this was owed to both the Greeks that were still struggling and the members of the ANEL and SYRIZA parties, who had worked hard under great pressure, saying that no one should be allowed to prevent the work underway to fight corruption, correct injustices, support the welfare state, the economy, use Greece’s wealth-generating resources and upgrade the country’s role as a factor for stability, peace, cooperation and alliance in its surrounding region.
“For four years we had an honest partnership…though we came from different political families,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday, referring to his party’s cooperation with the Independent Greeks (ANEL) and its leader Panos Kammenos, in statements to reporters after Kammenos announced his party’s withdrawal from the coalition government.
“I accepted the resignation of the defence minister,” the prime minister told reporters, noting that their parties’ collaboration had succeeded in leading Greece out of the memorandum programmes while supporting the weaker members of society and opening up the way to fighting corruption.
He thanked Kammenos for his “irreplaceable” contribution over this time, noting that he had asked him for “plain speaking”.
Tsipras announced that he had already contacted the president of the Hellenic Parliament and asked him to initiate the proceedings for holding a vote of confidence in the government, so that it might complete its term under the constitution in October 2019.
“At crucial times each of us has an obligation to assume his or her responsibility toward the country and to what we deeply believe to be in the nation’s interests,” the prime minister noted. Even though the constitution allowed him to continue by seeking ad hoc majorities in Parliament, he added, “I did not do this in 2015…and I will not do it now.”
The prime minister said that he needed Parliament’s confidence in order to move forward with the great changes that are necessary for the country, which will provide society with relief but also upgrade Greece’s international role.
Voutsis announced that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has sent him a letter informing him that he intends to ask Parliament to reaffirm its confidence in the government, in accordance with articles 84 of the constitution and article 141 of parliament regulations, asking him to launch the relevant procedures at once.
The process cannot begin until two full days after the prime minister sends the relevant request to the parliament president, so the start of the debate cannot begin before late on Tuesday afternoon. Since the debate cannot last longer than three days, Voutsis will recommend that it be concluded in two, so that it can end on Wednesday night with a roll-call vote.
Pointing out that the state budget for 2019 was passed just a month earlier, Voutsis said that a debate on all issues was not necessary.
The end of the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition announced by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos on Sunday was a “staged divorce”, main opposition New Democracy asserted in an announcement.
“The pathetic duo Tsipras-Kammenos today presented, on national television, their staged ‘divorce’: a show that aims at the ratification of the Prespes Agreement, SYRIZA remaining in power and to keep Kammenos and his MPs in their seats a little while longer,” ND said.
This was the reason, the announcement added, that Kammenos “has loaned two of his MPs to Tsipras so that they can give him a vote of confidence, without ousting them from ANEL’s Parliamentary Group.”
“The curtain must fall on this tasteless and damaging performance. In the upcoming vote of confidence, any MP that supports Mr. Tsipras is assuming a responsibility before history,” the party added.
In a sharply-worded statement about the departure of the Independent Greeks (ANEL) and their leader Panos Kammenos from the coalition government on Sunday, the head of the Movement for Change (KINAL) Fofi Gennimata said it “ended a partnership that has done great damage” and called for immediate elections.
“Our country can’t take any more mutual blackmailings and the farce staged by Tsipras and Kammenos. Formally, the partnership that has done great damage to the country has been broken up…any continuation of the government with remnants and political peddlers, even if this secures a nominal vote of confidence, can only lead to new dead ends. There is not popular nor real confidence in Mr. Tsipras and his ragtag governmental troupe. Elections now.”
The government, with the anti-popular policies that it has followed over the last four years and the lies it uttered to get elected, does not have political legitimacy in the eyes of workers and the Greek people, the leader of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas said on Sunday, adding that KKE will not support the government.
“…KKE, in the session in parliament that we were informed by the parliament president will begin on Tuesday and end on Wednesday night or Thursday at the latest, will not cast a vote of confidence, it will vote against this government also,” Koutsoumbas said.
The Potami party is not prepared to cast a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government, Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis indicated in a tweet on Sunday.
“Potami, which has never hidden [its intentions] has made it clear for a long time now: it does not give a vote of confidence to Mr. Tsipras. Ideological obsessions, inefficiency, populism and the party state cannot be rewarded. The rest from the podium in Parliament,” he said.