Published: Mon, January 22, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Greek Rightists Protest Against Macedonia 'Name' Deal

Greek Rightists Protest Against Macedonia 'Name' Deal

"I accept any other name than Macedonia" for the northern neighbor.

Macedonia declared independence in 1991, avoiding the violence that accompanied much of the breakup of Yugoslavia. However, as conservative New Democracy and Democratic Alignment have made it clear they are unwilling to compensate for the coalition's internal divisions on the issue, Kammenos is likely to be put in the hard position of having to decide whether to back a solution that most likely includes the name "Macedonia" - a prospect that the ANEL leader had rejected.

Rally organizers claim that 400,000 people took part, while police unofficially estimated the crowd at 100,000.

Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos, after a meeting he had this week with Tsipras, said that he is not going to support any of the upcoming protests, as he has "confidence in the Greek government to handle our national issues". Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who took power last May, pledged to accelerate the country's bid to join the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and to work on resolving the name dispute. It was one of the biggest protests in Greece in recent years.

The so-called name dispute centres on Greece's insistence that use of the word "Macedonia" implies a territorial claim to the northern Greek province of the same name. Athens and Skopje agreed this month to restart efforts to resolve the long-running dispute.

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Zaev is expected to meet Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday or Thursday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, for talks on the progress of exploratory negotiations aimed at resolving the name spat.

In 2004, then US President George W Bush caused anger in Greece when he recognised the FYROM as Macedonia.

This is not the first time that Greeks rally against their neighbors' name.

Witnesses on Sunday said about 300,000 people had gathered in Thessaloniki - the largest city in Greece's Macedonia - many from regions across the country.

Macedonia is known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) at the United Nations, although the acknowledged this was a provisional name when it agreed to membership. Greek citizens use this term when reffering to their northern neighbor.

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