Greeks rallied outside parliament in Athens over Macedonia name row

Protesters wave Greek national flags and shout slogans during a rally against the use of the term "Macedonia" in any solution to a dispute between Athens and Skopje over the former Yugoslav republic's name, in Athens, Greece February 4, 2018. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

Vastavam web: Hundreds of thousands of Greeks rallied outside parliament in Athens on Sunday to protest against the use of the term Macedonia in any settlement the government pursues with the ex-Yugoslav Republic to end a decades-old name row.The two countries have agreed to step up negotiations, mediated by the United Nations, this year to settle the dispute, which has frustrated the aspirations of Greece’s small northern neighbour to join NATO and the European Union.

Thoroughfares in central Athens turned into a sea of people waving blue and white Greek flags in what locals said was the largest gathering in decades, easily outdoing rallies against austerity foisted by lenders on the crisis-hit country.Protesters hoisted a giant Greek flag over the demonstration with a crane on Sunday. They held banners reading “Hands off Macedonia!” and chanted the national anthem.“I‘m here for Macedonia. Macedonia is ours, it’s part of Greece. We won’t let them take it from us,” said 72-year old Persefoni Platsouri clutching a Greek flag.

The case evokes strong emotions among Greeks who consider Macedonia, the ancient kingdom ruled by Alexander the Great, to be an integral part of their homeland and heritage.Among Sunday’s speakers was world-renowned Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, who said the eight-year economic crisis had not wiped Greece’s history from people’s memories.

“If we give in, we are leaving the doors wide open for a tragic historical lie to come through and stay forever,” the 93-year old leftist, a symbol of resistance against the 1967-1974 military junta, told a cheering crowd.Among Sunday’s speakers was world-renowned Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, who said the eight-year economic crisis had not wiped Greece’s history from people’s memories.“If we give in, we are leaving the doors wide open for a tragic historical lie to come through and stay forever,” the 93-year old leftist, a symbol of resistance against the 1967-1974 military junta, told a cheering crowd.