Greek defense minister resigns over Macedonia name change

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Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, center, makes a statement to the media following a meeting with Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, in Athens, Sunday, Jan. 13. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, center, makes a statement to the media following a meeting with Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, in Athens, Sunday, Jan. 13. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

Athens, Greece (AP) — Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, leader of the junior partner in the country’s coalition government, has resigned over the Macedonia name deal, which he opposes.

Kammenos announced his resignation after meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday morning. He said his party is quitting the government. He plans to give a press conference later Sunday.

Greece and Macedonia agreed last June to a deal that would change the name of Greece’s northern neighbor to North Macedonia. In exchange, Greece would lift its objections to Macedonia joining NATO.

Macedonia’s parliament ratified the deal Friday. The Greek parliament now needs simple majority for ratification.

Tsipras’ left-wing Syriza party has 145 deputies in the 300-member Greek Parliament, while Kammenos’ right-populist Independent Greeks party has seven. Tsipras could need opposition help to pass the Macedonia deal.