Thousands Of Greeks Protest The Macedonia Name Change

Photo: Reuters

Recently, citizens in Athens have been protesting the name change of Macedonia. An estimated 60,000 - 100,000 protesters arrived in Syntagma Square, located in Athens, to protest the possible name change of Macedonia. The Greek government has agreed to let Macedonia change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia. In return, Greece would lift its objections to Macedonia joining NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Many Greeks are opposed to this deal because it would recognize “Macedonian” as a nationality. It would also influence Greek history and heritage by causing rivalries among different nationalities.

The protesters have started riots outside of the Greek parliament. Riot squads have been called in to deal with the protesters. The squads were resisting certain protesters who were throwing rocks, firebombs, flares, paint, and other projectiles. As the battle intensified, 30 masked individuals threw stones at the parliament building, which forced officers to respond with volleys of tear gas to disperse the protestors. Al Jazeera reporter, John Psaropoulos, stated that the protest was “broken up by repeated volleys of canisters fired by the police”.

This agreement has been tough on the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, who has had two no-confidence votes since it was made. Many Greeks are now unsure of their Prime Minister’s decision. Greece’s parliament is expected to have a debate on Monday and have a vote on Friday.

There has been a 27 year long dispute between Macedonia and Greece. The possible name-change is the result of this dispute. When Macedonia was a part of Yugoslavia, Greece vetoed its NATO and European Union application. When Yugoslavia fell apart, Macedonia wanted to change its name, but Greece refused, which sparked the 27 year-long feud that has caused the recent protests. Greece’s Prime Minister’s debate on Monday may halt the dispute, but there is a slight chance that the dispute will live on.

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