Greek PM Tsipras wins confidence vote, eyes Macedonia accord

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won a confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday, clearing a major hurdle for Greece’s approval of an accord to end a dispute over Macedonia’s name and averting the prospect of a snap election.

Tsipras called the confidence motion after his right-wing coalition partner Panos Kammenos quit the government on Jan. 13 in protest over the name deal signed between Athens and Skopje last year.

Parliament gave Tsipras 151 votes, meeting the threshold required in the 300-member assembly. His leftist Syriza party has 145 seats in parliament while additional support was gleaned by defectors of Kammenos’s ANEL party and independents gave him six more votes.

“I call upon you with hand on heart to give a vote of confidence to the government which gave battle, which bled, but managed to haul the country out of memorandums and surveillance,” Tsipras said, referring to Greece’s international lenders who kept the country on a tight leash for years.

Greek opponents of the agreement say Macedonia’s new name – the Republic of North Macedonia, reached after decades of dispute between Athens and Skopje, represents an attempt to appropriate Greek identity.

Macedonia is the name of Greece’s biggest northern region. The deal was signed between the two countries in mid-2018, contingent on ratification of parliaments in both countries and a necessary step for the tiny Balkan state to be considered for European Union and NATO membership.