Greek defence minister quits over Macedonia name deal, coalition in doubt


The two countries recently agreed that Greece's northern neighbour would be called North Macedonia, therefore ending a 27-year-long row.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told lawmakers Friday that the deal with neighboring Greece, which insisted on the name change to lift its objections to Macedonia joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union, was the best he could secure.

The governments of Macedonia and Greece are both struggling to secure the political support required to ratify the agreement reached last June.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who congratulated Zaev in a phone call following Friday's successful vote, has previously said once Greece is formally notified by Macedonia of the constitutional changes, he will swiftly launch the process of ratifying the agreement in Greece's parliament.

Mickoski told reporters the move Friday to change the country's name to North Macedonia to appease neighboring Greece was made against the desires of the Macedonian people "and is an act of treason".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is on a working visit to Athens, has expressed strong support for the agreement.

The EU's Federica Mogherini said Friday that the Macedonian parliament's approval of the constitutional changes is "a crucial step" in implementing the deal with Greece.

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Kammenos has repeatedly threatened to pull his lawmakers out of the government and said he will never vote for the deal when it comes to parliament.

If the government loses, the next general election, due to be held in the autumn, could be brought forward.

"The United States sees this as a historic opportunity to advance stability, security and prosperity throughout the region", Pompeo said in a statement released from Washington.

However, it appears that some of Mr Kammenos's lawmakers are ready to desert him, while some lawmakers from small centre-left parties are ready to back the deal.

A New Democracy member allegedly revealed the personal mobile phone numbers of ANEL lawmakers.

Athens News Agency said the news reports prompted the preliminary investigation into the allegations. "But I am convinced that the Greek parliament will also find the strength to make the decision", he said.

During the vote, 81 of the Macedonian parliament's 120 MPs backed the name change, securing the required two-thirds majority to push it through. In ancient times it was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire, a source of intense pride for modern-day Greeks.