Rumors resurfaced on Monday concerning the unity of Greece’s government, fueling speculation that junior partner ANEL may be about to quit the coalition with SYRIZA.
Various differences of opinion in key policy areas appear to have deepened in recent weeks, and the risk of a political accident leading to an early election has increased, despite the fact that government officials assert the full four year term will be completed.
Disagreements between SYRIZA and ANEL on national issues such as the FYROM name dispute and the handling of tense Greek-Turkish relations appear to have pushed the Prime Minister’s relations with junior coalition partner Panos Kammenos to an all-time low.
On Monday the government moved to dismiss media reports that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and ANEL leader Panos Kammenos held showdown talks with the latter threatening to quit the government.
“There is constant communication between Tsipras and Kammenos, they talk all the time, and decide courses of action together,” government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told a press briefing on Monday. Asked to comment on rumors of a rift between the two, Tzanakopoulos described the relationship between the leaders of SYRIZA and Independent Greeks, respectively, as “excellent.”
A report by Fileftheros newspaper which maintained that Alexis Tsipras and Panos Kammenos held a tense meeting in private last Friday was rejected by Digital Policy Minister Nikos Pappas, who was also reported to have been present. Pappas took to twitter to deny the meeting took place and refute claims that any rift exists in the ruling coalition. The Minister said that the story of right-wing Fileleftheros newspaper is “fictional”, adding that the only meeting that interest the public these days are the ones between Novartis executives and New Democracy officials.
Later in the day, Defense Minister Kammenos himself told reporters that there is no chance the coalition will split, adding that the leftist-nationalist government scheme will go all the way.
Meanwhile, Alternate Foreign Minister, Giorgos Katrougalos, said in an interview that “rumors that the government will not make it to the end of its four year term have been around ever since the coalition was formed” in 2015. He added that the coalition is not about to split, and will continue the effort to rid the country of the bailout memoranda and corruption.
Despite the assurances on both sides, the Independent Greeks party leader is thought to be unhappy at the attacks launched on his party’s MPs by SYRIZA counterparts. Greek media also reported that Kammenos feels marginalized by Tsipras.
Differences of opinion have fueled scenarios that the government may be on the verge of collapse. Specifically, Kammenos appears to have moved away from the official government line on the FYROM name issue and relations with businessman Ivan Savvidis. Another contentious issues is the handling of the detention of two Greek soldiers by Ankara.
Specifically on the FYROM name issue, the ANEL reader is insisting on voting against any prospective agreement which involves the use of the term Macedonia by the neighboring country. Even though talks with Skopje have stalled in recent weeks, it appears that the Greek PM is reported to be determined to bring a proposal for a solution to parliament next month.
Kammenos has called an emergency meeting of the Independent Greeks parliamentary group for Tuesday, the same day he will meet with Tsipras for talks. Until then, the party leader has reportedly ordered MPs to refrain from making public statements which highlight differences of opinion in the coalition./IBNA