By John Carr
Greece’s government split on Sunday after the junior coalition partner walked out in disagreement over Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ tension-reducing deal with neighbouring Macedonia.
The small Independent Greeks party, headed by Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, had been in an increasingly uncomfortable cohabitation with Tsipras' Syriza party for at least six months.
The crisis came to a head when Kammenos told Tsipras he was resigning. He has also quit as defence minister.
Tsipras now heads a minority government with 145 seats in the 300-seat Parliament. He said on Sunday he would call for a vote of confidence this week. He’s confident of gaining six more deputies from other parties to win the vote, which would entail endorsement of the agreement with Macedonia – or, as it will now be called officially, North Macedonia.
By his intransigent stand, Kammenos hopes to capitalize on the large segment of Greek public opinion opposed to any use of the name Macedonia, in any form, apart from the Greek province of the same name.
But it’s clearly a victory for Tsipras’ conciliatory policy of easing Balkan tensions, backed strongly by Brussels and Washington.