Thousands protest in Greece over name dispute with neighbour

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Athens, Feb 4 (IANS) Hundreds of thousands of people of all ages came out in protest in the Greek capital Athens on Sunday over a long-running dispute with a neighbouring country whose official name includes the word “Macedonia”.

Protesters flocked to Athens from all over the country, on buses chartered by local bishops and mayors, in cars and on public transport, Efe news agency reported.

Amid shouts of “Macedonia is Greece, Greece is Macedonia” and “Hands off Macedonia,” the demonstrators expressed their rejection of any possible solution to a dispute with the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia that involved using the word “Macedonia”, a term they see belonging exclusively to the northern Greek region of the same name.

Scores of people were seen brandishing national flags outside the Greek parliament building in Syntagma Square.

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Among those present at the rally were leader the far-right Golden Dawn party Nikolaos Michaloliakos and former Conservative Prime Minister, Andonis Samaras, as well as bishops and mayors.

Speaking to the crowd gathered at the rally, Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, 92, urged Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras not to be afraid of the people and to arrange a plebiscite before plowing on with any agreement with FYROM, which he warned was seeking to expand its territory to the detriment of Greece.

Police put the number of participants at about 140,000, while the organisers estimated 1.5 million had turned out for the action.

Since FYROM declared its independence in 1991, Greece has been opposed to its official name.

–IANS

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