Tspiras to seek confidence vote in Greek government

BREAKING: Greek Defence Minister Resigns Ahead Of Macedonia Name Vote

Defence Minister Panos Kammenos withdrew his party's support, signalling his opposition ahead of an expected vote in the Greek parliament. Lawmakers in Athens tentatively planned to hold the confidence vote on Wednesday, months before regular elections are due in September.

Tsipras' leftist party Syriza has 145 deputies in the 300-member Greek Parliament but could win the confidence vote with just 120 votes if enough lawmakers abstain.

Macedonia's parliament voted on January 11 to ratify changes to the constitution called for in connection with the agreement, which now needs backing from the Greek lawmakers to come into effect.

He said his party is quitting the government.

Kammenos submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn - frequent visitors and now household names in Macedonia/FYROM - were the first to back the move, nearly in real time, with Washington's minimalist statement emerging a day later. Namely, the Independent Greeks party opposes it and has left the ruling coalition. However some of his ANEL party's MPs remain ambivalent.

"The adoption of constitutional changes in parliament means not only the ratification of the agreement with Greece and a new name of the country, now called the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia". The national unity government functioned for four years.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said he will call a confidence vote after his governing coalition split over the Macedonia name change. He said any deal including "Macedonia" in the name of the Balkan state to Greece's north was unacceptable as the name was irrevocably tied to Greek civilization and culture. Kammenos said he would not support Tsipras in the vote.

"Within 10 days... if we see everything is in order, we will vote", Tsipras said on Friday evening.

"Our parliament found the strength but it wasn't easy".

Athens claimed that the name made it sound like Macedonia the country has its eyes set on annexing Macedonia the province - or at the least was appropriating Greece's historical heritage.

Zaev said on January 12 that the lawmakers had "made history", adding: "I know how hard that was". A longstanding dispute between the two countries led to the move, because a region of Greece bordering the Macedonian republic is also called Macedonia.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the parliament's decision, praising the Macedonian leader's "vision, courage and persistence" in seeking a resolution to the dispute with Greece that would allow it to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.

New Democracy is vehemently against the agreement but Tsipras hopes to convince opposition MPs from smaller parties to back the historic name change deal.

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