Parliamentary speaker Nikos Voutsis said that Greek lawmakers will be voting on ratifying the name deal withMacedonia by the end of next week.
Coming out of a meeting of ruling SYRIZA's political secretariat, Voutsis indicated that the process for ratifying the so-called Prespes agreement would start over the next few days at the committee level, culminating with the debate in the plenary and the final vote by the end of next week.
“Everyone will have a say. Everyone will be given the time,” Voutsis told reporters after the first meeting of the leftist party's political secretariat since the departure from the coalition of junior partner Independent Greeks.
SYRIZA is said to be looking to pass the agreement with Macedonia singed last June and settling the decades-old dispute between the two neighbors, with an absolute majority of at least 151 MPs in the 300-seat House, but has just 145 seats after the small nationalist party quit the coalition in opposition at the deal.
This is the second big bet of the Tsipras Government, since the first obstacle, the vote of confidence after the withdrawal of Independent Greeks from the government, was successfully overcome. The goal of Athens is to ratify the Agreement by at least 151 MPs, with all eyes turned to the processes of “Potami”. the leader of which is Stavros Theodorakis, of “Movement for Change” (KINAL), whose head is Fofi Gennimata, as well as the position of individual MPs.
The Political Council of the opposition Potami party on reaffirmed that its parliamentary deputies will vote according to their conscience when the Prespes Agreement comes to the Greek parliament for ratification, following a joint meeting with the party's MPs and MEPs.
According to sources in the party, Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis and the MP Giorgos Mavrotas are inclined to back the agreement, while Giorgos Amyras and Grigoris Psarianos made it clear they will vote against but not quit Potami's parliamentary group.
While the Movement for Change (KINAL) will not hold MPs to a party line during the vote on the Prespes Agreement, KINAL leader Fofi Gennimata on Thursday warned that "there would be consequences" for those who "hurt the party".
Speaking during the evening news on Alpha channel, Gennimata accused Tsipras of turning the Prespes vote into one of support for his party and said that "nobody should give Tsipras the opportunity to use a bad agreement against the progressive party."
According to Gennimata, she was asking all sides to be responsible: "There will be a uniform vote by the parliamentary group. What I expect of the party officials is to take all the facts into account. The conscience of the MPs and party officials is more important than discipline."
Asked to comment on rumours that former prime minister George Papandreou might back the agreement, Gennimata noted that different approaches were respected and heard but "when the crucial time comes, no one must hurt the party".
While there was no issue of party discipline, she warned, "there will obviously be consequences
"In such major national issues, what is supposed to prevail is the patriotic interest and the certainty that everyone will be judged by the people and history", the government says in statement. Moreover, the political scene in Athens seems like a chessboard for strong nerves lately.
The government is releasing the Prespes Agreement to the public
After the verbal note sent by Skopje to Athens yesterday to inform on the completion of the internal procedures of Macedonia, the government aims to provide full information to citizens and parties, as well as have exhaustive dialogue on the matter. As the Greek Prime Minister's press office officially announced on Sunday, the entire text of the agreement will be distributed to the press so that all citizens have full knowledge and a clear picture of its content.
New Democracy rejects the discussion for the Prespes Agreement
The government argue that the clarifications regarding the term "Nationality", as well as the language that is classified to the "Southern Slavic" languages, contradict New Democracy's argument. In this context Tsipras invited Mitsotakis to a television debate on the issue early next week. The main opposition party replied negatively, calling on the Greek Prime Minister to call for elections so that citizens can draw their conclusions from the pre-election debates.
Meanwhile, thousands of protesters are expected to descend on the Greek capital on Sunday for a rally decrying the accord, which renames the country “Republic of North Macedonia.” (NV).