Greeks Protest to Defend Right to the Name ‘Macedonia’

The Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis sought to faucet into that patriotism in a speech on Sunday outdoors the Parliament constructing in Syntagma Square. “There is only one Macedonia,” he advised the crowd. “It was, is and will always be Greek.”

The house of the 92-year-old composer, extensively revered for his resistance to the navy dictatorship in Greece of 1967 to 1974, was defaced on Saturday, apparently by vandals protesting his deliberate participation at the rally.

The demonstrators on Sunday got here from round the nation, many arriving in the capital aboard tons of of buses, or from the islands by ferry. Some wore conventional clothes, whereas others dressed as Alexander the Great, the historical Greek warrior king whose realm was centered in the northern Greek area of Macedonia. Right-wing politicians and representatives of the Greek Orthodox clergy joined them in a sea of Greek flags.

Thousands of cops have been deployed to preserve the peace, and the organizers additionally requested military veterans and reserves to stop infiltration by anarchists staging a separate rally. In the afternoon, a small crowd of anarchists threw stones at cops, who responded with tear fuel, however the unrest was temporary and remoted.

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A small crowd of anarchists threw stones at cops, who responded with tear fuel, however the unrest was temporary and remoted.

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Yorgos Karahalis/Associated Press

Last month, Thessaloniki, Greece’s second metropolis, drew round 100,000 individuals to a protest on the problem of use of the Macedonian identify. Both demonstrations have been a far cry, nevertheless, from one held in 1992, a yr after the Balkan state broke away from Yugoslavia and named itself Macedonia. On that day, 1,000,000 Greeks packed the streets of Thessaloniki.

The breakaway nation joined the United Nations in 1993 underneath the provisional identify the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Since then, nevertheless, dozens of nations have routinely referred to the nation as Macedonia.

Negotiations between Athens and Skopje have turn into strained. After the United Nations’ particular envoy in the dispute, Matthew Nimetz, indicated final week that Athens didn’t seem to be “denying the identity of the Macedonian people,” he acquired an offended name from Mr. Kotzias, the Greek overseas minister.

“I clearly and sternly stressed that it is not within his competence to talk about what Athens’ policy is, much less to describe it incorrectly,” Mr. Kotzias mentioned in a press release on Saturday.

The talks have additionally contributed to a rift in Greece’s governing coalition, with the leftist prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, saying it’s “not unreasonable” for the phrase Macedonia to be utilized in a compound identify for the nation. His coalition associate, Panos Kammenos, who leads the right-wing Independent Greeks celebration and who’s protection minister, has insisted that the phrase Macedonia should not be a part of the neighbor’s identify. The highly effective Greek Orthodox Church additionally opposes permitting the neighbor rights to the phrase.

Even if the two nations have been to attain a compromise, Macedonian officers have indicated that they want to submit the deal to a preferred vote by way of a referendum. Should that be the case, Greece would come underneath home strain to do the identical, probably producing a impasse.

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