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Greek defence minister resigns over Macedonia name change

Macedonia’s parliament ratified the deal on Friday. The Greek parliament now needs a simple majority for ratification.

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Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos (Yorgos Karahalis/AP)

Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos (Yorgos Karahalis/AP)

Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos (Yorgos Karahalis/AP)

Greece’s conservative defence minister, who leads the junior partner in the country’s coalition government, has resigned over the Macedonia name deal, which he opposes.

Panos Kammenos announced his resignation after meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday morning.

He said his party is quitting the government.

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People in Macedonia attend a protest against the change of the country’s name (Boris Grdanoski/AP)

People in Macedonia attend a protest against the change of the country’s name (Boris Grdanoski/AP)

AP/PA Images

People in Macedonia attend a protest against the change of the country’s name (Boris Grdanoski/AP)

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said, in response, that he will ask for a vote of confidence in Parliament in the coming week.

He added he had a “frank discussion” with Mr Kammenos, whom he thanked for his government partnership.

Mr Tsipras also announced that Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will replace Mr Kammenos as defence minister.

Greece and Macedonia agreed last June to a deal that would change the name of Greece’s northern neighbour to North Macedonia.

In exchange, Greece would lift its objections to the country joining Nato.

Macedonia’s parliament ratified the deal on Friday and the Greek parliament now needs a majority for its ratification.

Mr Tsipras’ left-wing Syriza party has 145 deputies in the 300-member Greek Parliament, while Mr Kammenos’ right-populist Independent Greeks party has seven.

With the departure of his coalition partner, Mr Tsipras would need opposition help to pass the Macedonia name deal.

PA