By Furkan Naci Top
ATHENS (AA) – The Greek government’s minor coalition partner and the country's defense minister on Tuesday said his party will oppose to the deal between Macedonia and Greece on the long-standing name dispute between the two countries.
“If the deal reaches the point of coming to the Greek parliament, we do not have the popular mandate to remain in the government,” said Panos Kammenos, leader of the Independent Greeks (ANEL), at the 83rd Thessaloniki International Fair.
Kammenos offered three proposals to the prime minister to prevent discord within the government.
“The first is for the Greek people to vote on the deal in a referendum. The second choice is to put off negotiations until the end of the government’s four-year term. And the third is to hold elections,” he said.
Accusing Skopje of violating the agreement, Kammenos stated that it should be the Greek people who decide on the deal regardless of the result of the Sept. 30 referendum in Macedonia.
On June 17, Greece and its northern neighbor signed a historic accord on renaming Macedonia, ending a longstanding dispute between the two countries.
Greece, both a NATO and EU member, has long opposed Macedonia’s official name, as it has a region by the same name in the north of its country.
Due to Athens’ veto, the dispute has been one of the main obstacles to Macedonia’s ambitions to join NATO and the EU.
Negotiations between Macedonia and Greece had recently stepped up, as the new government in Skopje sought progress in its bid to join NATO and the EU.
Despite the dispute between Athens and Skopje, many countries, including Turkey, recognize the country as Macedonia.