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

Name row pits Macedonia between patriotism and pragmatism

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

More than 100,000 Greeks have protested in the city of Thessaloniki to demand the country of Macedonia stops using the name.

Cretans in traditional costumes who travelled from the southern island with their horses, as well as people from northern Greece wearing costumes from the Macedonian wars era a century ago, crowded at the White Tower on the Thessaloniki waterfront from early in the morning. A brief exchange followed with anarchists throwing stones and the police firing with tear gas.

Some 400 buses will be transporting people in from across the country, local media reported.

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

"We want to warn our politicians not to dare to betray us".

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

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Matthew Nimetz, the United Nations mediator in the name negotiations, said that on the table there are five proposals: Republic of Upper Macedonia, Republic of Nothern Macedonia, Republic of Macedonia (Skopje), Republic of New Macedonia and Republic of Vardar Macedonia. So far, the issue has strained relations with his coalition ally, the right-wing Independent Greeks party which objects to the use of Macedonia in any agreed name.

According to reports, Nimetz has proposed five possible options for the country's name - Republika Nova Makedonija (Republic of New Macedonia), Republika Severna Makedonija (Republic of Northern Macedonia), Republika Gorna Makedonija (Republic of Upper Macedonia), Republika Vardarska Makedonija (Republic of Vardar Macedonia) and Republika Makedonija (Skopje).

The 1992 rally was backed by the Greek Orthodox Church which, however, distanced itself from Sunday's demonstration, as a whole.

Last week Ieronymos II, the archbishop of Athens and All Greece, told Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that "what is needed now is not protests and cries, but national unity".

However, he told Ethnos newspaper that he could understand "the concerns and sensitivities" of the Greeks of the north.

The crowd is chanting "Hellas - Macedonia", "No to the double name", "Not a new betrayal" and are singing Macedonia themed songs.

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