A debate set to decide the fate of the SYRIZA government in Greece will begin in the plenary five hours from now and will end with a confidence vote on Wednesday night (local time).

The Conference of Presidents will start deliberating at 12pm sharp, a decision that was made by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras himself, who initiated procedure with a written request to Parliament President Nikos Voutsis on Sunday.

Following protocol, Mr Tsipras announced that he would ask parliament to renew its vote of confidence in the government, rather than make use of constitutional leeway to rule without an explicit majority, Athens News Agency reported.

The process for a confidence vote was paramount after coalition party Independent Greeks (ANEL) announced that it was withdrawing from the administration and leader and National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos resigned.

Mr Kammenos believes Greece should withdraw from the Prespes Accord, even though FYROM lawmakers ratified the deal under which the country will be renamed “Republic of North Macedonia”.

On Monday, Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, formerly chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, was sworn in before President of the Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos at the Presidential Mansion, and then took an oath before Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and all of Greece. Outgoing Minister of Defence Mr Kammenos will hand over the ministry portfolio to Apostolakis today.

Former Greek Defence Minister and leader of ANEL party Panos Kammenos (C-R) with members of the party’s youth poses for photographers holding the flag with the emblem of Vergina after announcing that ANEL is withdrawing from Greece’s coalition government. Photo: AAP via EPA/PANTELIS SAITAS

However, not every ANEL MP objects the name deal.

Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, in an exclusive statement yesterday declared her support to the Prespes Accord.

“I clearly support the government to complete its work. I deliberately keep my distance from political games and I will continue my political career with seriousness, responsibility and based on the national interest, as I always did,” she said.

“I am visiting China as a member of an official delegation with the view to reaching beneficial agreements for Greece in the fields of agricultural production, transport and tourism. I want to make it clear that I am not negotiating my right to vote according to my conscience. This government has worked very hard on Greece’s final exit from the memoranda and the austerity programmes,” continued Mrs Kountoura’s statement.

“We cannot allow the country’s course towards growth and prosperity to be stopped and the sacrifices of the Greek people to be cancelled. Moreover we cannot give the right to those responsible for the destruction of Greece to cause the destabilisation of the government and the country.”

Along the same lines, Deputy Agricultural Development and Food Minister Vassilis Kokkalis also announced his decision to support the government with a vote of confidence, despite ANEL’s departure from the coalition, but not the Prespes Agreement.

Responding to the statements, ANEL party leader Mr Kammenos announced via Twitter that Mrs Kountoura and Mr Kokkalis had both been expelled from ANEL’s parliamentary group.

Accusing Kountoura of “trading her vote and the name ‘Macedonia’ for a ministerial chair”, Kammenos said he was ejecting her from ANEL’s parliamentary group, effective immediately.

Mr Kokkakis and Mrs Kountoura leaving after their expulsion from ANEL. Photo: Twitter

Η Κα Κουντουρά με επίσημη ανακοίνωση της αποφάσισε να ανταλλάξει την ψήφο της και το όνομα της Μακεδονίας με την υπουργική καρέκλα. Την θέτω από τώρα εκτός κοινοβουλευτικής ομάδας των ΑΝΕΞΑΡΤΗΤΩΝ ΕΛΛΗΝΩΝ.

— Panos Kammenos (@PanosKammenos) January 14, 2019

“Vassilis Kokkalis, despite being in a negotiating stage for his vote on the national issue from China, the intention to trade the seat is enough in order to remove him from the Independent Greeks parliamentary group,” Kammenos tweeted.

Ο Βασίλης Κόκκαλης παρότι βρίσκεται σε στάδιο διαπραγμάτευσης για την ψήφο του στο Εθνικό θέμα από την Κίνα αρκεί η πρόθεση για ανταλλαγή θέσης προκειμένου να απομακρυνθεί από την κοινοβουλευτική ομάδα των ΑΝΕΞΑΡΤΗΤΩΝ ΕΛΛΗΝΩΝ

— Panos Kammenos (@PanosKammenos) January 14, 2019

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talks to the media. photo: AAP via EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Meanwhile, the Greek Foreign Ministry has received harsh backlash from Russia, regarding the Prespes Accord with the Russian Foreign Ministry clearly dubbing the deal “a Western plot” seeking to taint the NATO alliance with FYROM’s presence.

“The decision by Macedonia’s Parliament, which voted in favor of changing the country’s name, has been imposed from outside and does not reflect the will of the people,” the Russian ministry’s statement said adding that Moscow plans to refer the issue to the United Nations Security Council.

“It is clear that there is an ongoing process imposed from outside which is aimed at changing the country’s name in an artificial way with the ultimate goal of forcefully inducting Skopje into NATO. This is taking place in violation of Macedonian law.”

In another statement the Greek Foreign Ministry dismissed Moscow’s reaction, highlighting the deal as “tantamount to meddling in Greece’s affairs”.

“The Russian Foreign Ministry’s decision to cite political developments in countries which enjoy friendly relations with Moscow is ‘incompatible’ with Greek-Russian bilateral ties and the long-standing bonds of friendship between the two peoples. Legitimate concerns are raised as the Russian Foreign Ministry statement overlooks the democratic functioning of institutions in Greece, whose constitution has clear provisions for dealing with anything that impacts the country’s internal political order.”