Athens Digest 14.01.2019

• PM Tsipras seeks confidence vote after ANEL party quits coalition

• Tsipras faced with two decisive Parliament votes, majority reportedly secured for both

• Time for Greece to build “serious state” as its debt is now in the hands of the European family, says Margaritis Schinas

# Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will seek a confidence vote after Panos Kammenos, the leader of junior partner the Independent Greeks (ANEL), announced the party was leaving the coalition due to its opposition to the name deal between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Tsipras said that Kammenos, who resigned as Defense Minister, will be replaced by army chief Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis.

# Tsipras is now faced with two imminent and decisive votes in Parliament – the confidence vote (next Wednesday night) and the name deal, also known as the Prespa Agreement. He has, reportedly, already secured the support of the necessary 151 majority of lawmakers in the 300-seat House for both votes. For his part, Kammenos has threatened his ministers and MPs with expulsion from his party if they support the government. However, it is considered an almost certainty that some of the ANEL lawmakers will give their votes of confidence. All parties of the opposition have formally stated they will not.

# “During the next days we will have two yes-votes,” EP Vice President Dimitris Papadimoulis tweeted. He said that Tsipras’ decision to ask a vote of confidence was a patriotic and responsible one.
“The political rift between Tsipras and Kammenos is a well orchestrated end to an unlikely four year “affair”. Mr. Tsipras can now extend an invitation to the center left while Mr. Kammenos avoids snap elections which would be catastrophic for his party,” former Public Revenue General Secretary, MP Harry Theoharis told Athens Digest. Theoharis recently joined New Democracy party, “Greece needs a clear political horizon as soon as possible in order to underpin a coherent and credible growth strategy. The current political turmoil is a step in the opposite direction,” he added.

# Having left the bailout memorandums behind, it is high time for Greece to build a serious state that will create opportunities and not debts, according to European Commission’s Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas. During an event by the Thessaloniki Chamber of Tradesmen, Schinas said that Greece must build an education that doesn’t drag everyone downwards and ensure that defense and health spending should be done in the interests of citizens. He said his optimism for the future hinges on the fact that the country’s debt is now in “the hands of the European family” and that the “historic” sacrifices of the Greeks were key to the transition to normality…and that “everyone wants the country to stay anchored to the EU.”

On Our Radar: Merkel backs Tsipras but refrains from calling out Mitsotakis

German Chancellor Angela Merkel concluded her first official visit to Athens in four years on Friday expressing her support for the name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, while acknowledging the “sacrifices” of the Greek people during the financial crisis. German paper Spiegel describedMerkel’s stance as an “absolute success” for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. But, the paper added, Merkel failed Tsipras in that she did not say anything against opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis who is opposed to the FYROM name deal.