More than 151 members of Parliament will vote in favor on Friday, January 25 – PM Tsipras: Ratification of Prespes Agreement a ‘patriotic duty’
Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
The draft law that enshrines and brings into force the agreement signed at Prespes between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on 17 June 2018 was introduced in the Greek parliament on Saturday.
According to sources, parliament president Nikos Voutsis’ intention is the process to move comfortably and for this reason the details of the procedure will be discussed at the parliament presidents meeting on Monday at 12:00. Sources said that the draft law will be introduced to the parliament’s Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday at 17:00.
The vote on the Prespes agreement is expected to be held until Friday 25 January.
The draft law on the agreement has been posted on the Greek Parliament’s website https://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=e45cf8f1-e640-40fa-a8af-a9da00c8f89f
Apart from the 145 SYRIZA MPs, independent MP Katerina Papacosta, who is deputy citizens’ protection minister, Spyros Danellis, a former Potami MP who is now an independent, Independent Greeks (ANEL) MP Thanasis Papachristopoulos and probably Tourism Minister Eleni Kountoura, formerly of ANEL, are expected to vote in favor. Potami’s leader Stavros Theodorakis and MPs Spyros Lykoudis and Giorgos Mavrotas are also expected to vote yes. If Democratic Left leader Thanasis Theoharopoulos also votes yes, the total would rise to 153.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in an interview with the Sunday edition of Avghi newspaper characterised “the Prespes Agreement a historic step for both countries (Greece and FYROM) and insisted that its ratification is a ‘patriotic duty’.
He accused main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis of doublespeak and of playing a dangerous game with the extreme right and the policy of hatred in order to have a temporary benefit in the elections.
Tsipras estimated that the Prespes Agreement will operate as a catalyst for the rallying of Greece’s progressive political forces. “The memoranda adventure has brought re-arrangements in the political system, so, today in a part of the centre, exists a crisis of political representation. The burden of the organisation of a progressive pole falls on the largest force (SYRIZA) but we want to move towards this direction without hegemonism. We seek the dialogue with all the progressive forces on some stable axes: the confrontation with the extreme right, the fair growth, the strengthening of the employment and of the workers’ income, the building of a new social state, the necessary rifts for the deepening and improvement of the quality of the democracy and of the institutions. These are the bases of a plan that can bring together the large progressive majority of the society”.
New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis sent an open invitation to citizens that have never voted ND in the past to do it now as the party has been renewed, during his visit on Saturday to the town of Mires on Crete.
Mitsotakis who paid a two-day visit to the island, referred to the Prespes Agreement at a brief speech outside ND’s offices in Mires.
“We will stand against the Agreement. It is a bad agreement” he said.
THEODORAKIS – LYKOUDIS
Opposition party Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis reiterated on Friday he will vote for the Prespes Agreement although he did not give the government a vote of confidence.
“I do not agree with (Prime Minister Alexis) Tsipras but the Prespes Agreement is a solution that makes sense,” Theodorakis told Alpha TV network.
Regarding the decision of Potami’s Political Council on Thursday to allow MPs to vote according to their conscience, Theodorakis said that he is more interested in the good of the country than his political survival.
“The essential issue we need to think about at the moment is that the whole world already refers to our neighbouring country as ‘Macedonia’. We have the opportunity to further qualify its name as North Macedonia. We must seize this opportunity,” he said.
Spyros Lykoudis, a lawmaker from centrist party To Potami, confirmed, as expected, that he will back the deal signed between Athens and Skopje when it comes to Parliament for ratification.
“We have said from the beginning that the agreement has a positive main pillar because it fulfils the decades-old national effort for FYROM to adopt a composite name erga omnes,” the political movement headed by Lykoudis, the “Reformists of the Left” said in a statement on Friday.
“We are today before an important and a chronic problem of our foreign policy whose perpetuation has always worked against us. This loose end must come to an end. Our country’s position in the big European family and the leading role it can play in the region require the solution of the problem,” it added.
Former Greek Prime Minister and President of Socialist International George Papandreou said he still welcomes the Prespes Agreement in an interview that will be published on Saturday in EfSyn newspaper.
Papandreou had already expressed this opinion in 2018, when he also referred to the agreement as a “balanced solution” while speaking at the Political Council of the Movement for Change (KINAL).
“Our first concern”, Papandreou told EfSyn, “should be to avoid division over a foreign policy matter, in this case the Macedonian issue. The use of difficult issues promote the agenda of political parties had been done in the past, with disastrous consequences for the Greek people and the country. Going to elections in a climate of division and mutual accusations over who is a patriot and who a traitor would be catastrophic,” Papandreou stated.
According to sources in EfSyn, in the interview Papandreou will also express his views on FYROM’s note verbale on meeting the Prespes Agreement terms; the prospect of a New Democracy-KINAL coalition and the dialogue between left-wing and democratic forces.
LARGE RALLY EXPECTED
Ahead of an anticipated vote on the Prespes name deal in Parliament next week, which the government expects to secure with a majority of at least 151, organizers of a rally opposing the pact are preparing to converge in Athens on Sunday.
“Kathimerini” reports that citizens’ groups have intensified a campaign on social media to draw as many protesters as possible to Syntagma Square for a protest against the Prespes deal between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Dozens of buses have been chartered, with local authorities, churches and monasteries helping organize the transfer of people from around the country to the capital.
The Greek Police were to hold a meeting last night on security for the rally.
Meanwhile organizers said they expect an even bigger turnout than last February, when a large crowd rallied in Athens against a compromise on the name issue. Police put the turnout then at 140,000, while organizers claimed it was 10 times that.
In comments to Kathimerini, Giorgos Tatsios, a member of the rally’s organizing committee, spoke of a “massive response” from around the country.
He would not reveal which guest speakers would address the event but said they would “get straight to the point.” “We have to prevent the national tragedy that is looming,” he said.
Public opposition to the accord is a concern but government officials appear optimistic about the outcome of a vote on it, which Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis indicated would take place late next week.
The debate is expected to be intense as virtually all opposition parties are against the deal. New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis yesterday called it a “national retreat.”