TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in the Greek capital, Athens, to protest against their government’s possible compromise in a long-standing dispute with neighboring Macedonia over its official name.
Some 140,000 demonstrators — by police estimates — gathered in Syntagma Square in front of the Greek Parliament on Sunday. Organizers put the turnout at 1.5 million.
Many in Greece object to the neighboring country — officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) — calling itself Macedonia. They say the official use of the name Macedonia by the country implies a territorial claim on Greece’s northern region of the same name.
Demonstrators were carrying flags and banners and chanting, “Hands off Macedonia,” “Macedonia is Greece” and “We won’t leave until we are vindicated.” They called on the Greek government to hold a referendum before taking a decision in a potential deal with Macedonia.
“If a government considers signing on behalf of our country... there is no doubt it must first ask the Greek people,” said Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis.
Among the protesters were former prime minister Antonis Samaras and mayors, senior clerics, army officers, and monks.
“Macedonia is Greek and only Greek,” said Allia Sarellis, a protester. “They are trying to steal history. We all have to fight and let the world know.”
Thousands of police officers were also deployed to the city. They used tear gas to keep apart nearby groups of suspected far-rightists and left-wing and anarchist protesters.
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia still remains the country’s official title at the United Nations due to Greek objections. The country, located in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe, gained independence from former Yugoslavia in 1991 and became a member state of the UN 18 months later in April 1993. It has also held up its attempts to join North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU).
Source: Press TV