Greek PM urges calm as proposed use of ‘Macedonia’  sparks protests 

Thessaloniki, Macedonia

Macedonia protest

Hundreds of thousands of Greeks took to the streets of Thessaloniki over the weekend to protest over the rumoured use of the term ‘Macedonia’ for inclusion in FYROM’s proposed new name.

Protestors set up a platform on the coastal promenade opposite the statue of Alexander the Great, with a banner proclaiming the central slogan “Macedonia is Greece” as thousands of protestors filled the surrounding area blocking the coastal avenue and stretching from the city’s landmark White Tower on one side to the Macedonia Palace Hotel on the other.

Thessaloniki, Macedonia

Several members of the clergy are among those taking part, including Thessaloniki Metropolitan Anthimos, and a number of main opposition New Democracy MPs, as well as Centrists Union party leader Vassilis Leventis and MPs from his party. Members and MPs of the Independent Greeks (ANEL), the junior member of Greece’s ruling coalition government, also put in an appearance, among them the party’s vice-president Panagiotis Sgouridis.

Central Macedonia Region governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas and Thessaloniki Deputy Regional Governor Voula Patoulidou were also there, with Tzitzikostas and ND MPs walking among the crowd.

Meanwhile Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that it would be national foolishness not to take the opportunity for a solution and alluded that there was nothing unreasonable about using the term ‘Macedonia’ in FYROMs proposed new name.

“In practice, it is not irrational the term “Macedonia” to exist in a compound name either with geographic or with time designation for everyone which will make totally clear that nobody claims territory or other people’s history” said Tsipras.

” For the last 25 years our neighbours are recognised as “Republic of Macedonia” by a number of countries while we are struggling everywhere to call them FYROM. So, if there is an opportunity for solution that will reverse these negative facts then it would be a national foolishness not to take advantage of it” underlined Tsipras.

Tsipras made the comments during an interview with Ethnos newspaper and reassured that he respects the concern and particularly the sensitive chords of his compatriots in northern Greece.

“I am half Macedon myself” he said.

Referring to Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos (who participates in SYRIZA government), Tsipras recognised that “Kammenos is aware of the problem and is an honest man and a patriot politician. He has reservations and has expressed them at the government’s council, but he has stated his confidence in the efforts of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his wish for broad consensus of the political forces on the issue, if a satisfactory agreement is reached”.

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.