Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ left-led coalition government is expected to survive the vote, set for later in the day. His government controls 154 of parliament’s 300 seats, and the nationalist party that is a junior coalition partner says it will reject the motion despite opposing the agreement Tsipras reached with his Macedonian counterpart.
Tsipras and Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev settled on a deal Tuesday that would rename Greece’s northern neighbor North Macedonia, while Athens would drop its objections to the country joining NATO and the European Union.
The agreement aimed to end a bitter dispute that has roiled the two countries’ relations since shortly after the small country declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Greece argued that the name “Macedonia” implied territorial claims on its province of the same name, which is the birthplace of the ancient warrior king Alexander the Great, and usurped its ancient Greek heritage and history.
But hardliners in both countries are furious at the deal, which they consider concedes too much to the other side.
Protesters in Athens were planning a demonstration outside Parliament later Saturday. A similar protest on Friday drew a few hundred people, waving Greek flags and shouting slogans accusing the government of treason. Turnout was a fraction of the more than 100,000 people who had protested a potential deal earlier this year.
The deal is tentatively set to be signed by the two countries’ foreign ministers Sunday in the Prespa Lakes region on the border. The ratification process will take several months.
In Macedonia, the agreement must clear the hurdles of parliamentary ratification, a referendum in September and a constitutional amendment. Opponents include the conservative opposition party and the country’s president Gjorge Ivanov, who has said he will not sign off on the agreement.
In Greece, the deal only faces ratification in parliament once Macedonia has completed its part of the process.
However, the government’s junior coalition partner, the right-wing Independent Greeks, vehemently opposes the deal and has said it will not support the agreement when it comes up for ratification in parliament. That would leave Tsipras dependent on the support of opposition parties.