Tens of thousands join Greek protest over Macedonia row

Greeks Protest Name 'Apropriation', Macedonian PM Says Referendum Will Decide Name

Greeks rally against use of 'Macedonia' in FYROM name dispute

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

Rally organisers claimed 400,000 people took part in Sunday's protest, while police estimated the crowd at 100,000. A compound name in which the term "Macedonia" is included without any designation that excludes ownership of the geographic position and history.

As a result, in 2008, Greece blocked Macedonia's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation entry and has also continued blocking the start of Macedonia's EU accession talks, despite several positive annual reports from the European Commission on the country's progress.

According to a survey conducted for Greek radio station 24/7 by the Alco polling group, 63 percent of respondents said they thought it was in Greece's best interests to seek a mutually acceptable solution at the United Nations talks.

Greece and Macedonia returned to the last week hoping to reach a compromise that could end the 27-year dispute over the former Yugoslav republic's name.

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It will be the first big protest in Greece since the two countries agreed this month to renew efforts to settle the 25-year old dispute.

According to well-informed sources, it was clear during Tsipras's meetings last week with Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and Archbishop Ieronymos that Greece is leaning towards Republika Vardarska Makejonija (Republic of Vardarska Macedonia) as a settlement, while FYROM prefers Republika Nova Makedonija (Republic of New Macedonia ).

The US and the European Union have welcomed the renewed talks. "Macedonia is in Greece and we are demonstrating against the neighboring country and against irresponsibility against our country and against our Macedonia", said one of the demonstrators.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who is expected to meet with his Macedonian counterpart in Davos next week, said in an interview published on Sunday that if there is an opportunity for a solution, "it would be a national stupidity not to make good use of it".

Thousands of Greeks have gathered in the northern city of Thessaloniki to march against the Republic of Macedonia's name. The Balkan nation was admitted to the United Nations in 1993 as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Greek citizens use this term when reffering to their northern neighbor.

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