Published: Tue, February 06, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Thousands of Greeks protest against Macedonia name compromise

Thousands of Greeks protest against Macedonia name compromise

The row started when Macedonia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and has continued ever since. Leaders of the two countries have also said progress has been made in settling the dispute, with indications that an agreement could include a composite name with a geographical or chronological qualifier, which would still include "Macedonia".

"Protesters from across Greece converged Sunday on Athens" main square outside parliament to protest a potential Greek compromise in a dispute with neighboring Macedonia over the former Yugoslav republic's official name. The Greek government opposed the global recognition of the young republic, objecting to its name, Republic of Macedonia; its flag, which included a Vergina Sun; and its constitution, which allegedly included territorial claims over its neighboring countries.

Toronto rally organizers said on Facebook they support the Greek people in their action to protect the heritage of Greece and Macedonia.

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Composer and former minister Mikis Theodorakis, 92, the keynote speaker at the rally, repeated the controversial claim that Greece's neighbor wants to expand into Greek territory.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias received a death threat that said there were "three bullets" reserved for, ostensibly in relation to his lead role in the negotiations between Greece and Macedonia. This is Macedonia. Here, these are Slavs, they are not Macedonians, we are Macedonians. Macedonians argue they are living in part of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia and have cultural ties to it. The problem is that the boundaries of the region known as Macedonia have changed greatly over time.

There has been growing hope expressed by officials in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union, in Macedonia and even among some officials in Greece, that finally this decades-old struggle might finally be resolved. That charge is denied by the Macedonian government. Another episode was recorded later with 200 hooded men carrying Greek flags attacking police forces on the corner of Amerikis and Panepistimiou street.

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The campaign to stop Macedonia using the name is also backed by the Greek Orthodox Church.

The organisers say they expect delegations from more than 300 organisations and around a million participants on central Syntagma Square. In the past, right-wing nationalistic governments in both Greece and Macedonia were refusing to accept any compromise. Yorgos Karahalis, AP A woman holds the Greek flag as she gathers with other protesters in a rally in Athens on February 4, 2018.

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