Greek foreign minister resigns, prime minister takes over

Greek media reported that it’s the biggest crisis the coalition government has ever experienced up-to-date

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accepted Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias' resignation announced he would take over the helm of the Foreign Ministry himself "to help with all his powers in the successful completion" of the name change deal, his office said.

The resignation came after Kotzias had an argument with Defense Minister Panos Kammenos - who long objected to the name deal - during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, local media reports said.

Regarding the name deal, Tsipras sought to reassure the neighboring country, which is in the process of debating the agreement in its parliament these days, that Athens fully supports the agreement, adding that there will not be another chance.

Tsipras also sought to reassure FYROM, which is in the process of debating the agreement in its Parliament, that he fully supports the agreement that will upgrade Greece's global standing, as he said.

Reportedly, Kotzias felt offended when Kammenos, who opposes a name change deal recently reached between Athens and Skopje (the so-called Prespa Agreement, after the name of the lake where it was signed), accused Kotzias of managing "secret funds".

"I will not accept any double messages from now on from anyone, no personal opinion relating to the country's national policy, expressed consciously or not, that disrupts the country's smooth path", Tsipras told reporters.

Tsipras, whose Syriza party is trailing badly ahead of national elections due next year, is hoping a successful name change deal - a precondition set by Greece for lifting its veto on Macedonia joining the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - will help boost his political standing overseas.

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Since the independence of its small neighbor in 1991, Greece believes that the name "Macedonia" can only be applied to its northern province around Thessaloniki.

"I will allow no one to derail the country's progress", Tsipras said referring to the fact that Greece exited the painful bailout programme in August.

"I think it's now abundantly clear Mr Tsipras is not just a weak prime minister, but a prime minister being blackmailed".

The amendments need a two-thirds vote in parliament for approval and now are several lawmakers short of passage.

New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday called Tsipras "weak".

The name deal has however been thrown in limbo following a referendum in Macedonia on September 30 which failed to muster a minimum turnout to render it valid.

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