Tsipras call to Zaev; opposition refers to Greek govt as a ‘comedy show’

1 October 2018
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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reportedly spoke by phone late Sunday evening with his counterpart in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), Zoran Zaev, hours after the polls closed in the latter over a closely watched referendum on a “name issue” agreement.

According to government sources, Tsipras praised Zaev for his “determination and courageousness to continue the implementation of the agreement,” a reference to the provisional Prespa Agreement, which aims to finally resolve the bilateral dispute over fYRoM’s name.

The low turnout for the referendum, which failed to reach the 50-percent mark by a wide margin, was a major disappointment. Zaev nevertheless promised to bring the agreement to Parliament for ratification and necessary constitutional revisions with an extended majority, otherwise to declare snap elections.

Back in Athens, the foreign ministry first referred to a “contradictory” result in a referendum with only a “consultative” nature, whereas rightwing junior coalition partner Panos Kammenos, the defense minister, said the referendum has a binding effect and its result cancelled the agreement. Although he still props up the mostly radical leftist government, Kammenos and his remaining party deputies oppose any use of the word “Macedonia” for the neighboring country’s name.

On its part, the center-right opposition party in Greece referred to a “government mess” in pointing to the diametrically different opinions and assessments concering both the provision agreement and Sunday’s referendum in fYRoM.

A main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokeswoman underlined that this “show must now end,” comparing the coalition government to a television comedy show.
Spokeswoman Maria Spyraki also called for snap elections in Greece before any attempt at constitutional revision in fYRoM.

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