Macedonia naming dispute: 4,000 protesters in Greece's Thessaloniki march with banners calling politicians 'traitors'

Thessaloniki (Greece): Some four thousand people protested in Thessaloniki, against a name deal between Greece and Macedonia, police have said.

The protesters, mainly from the far right, brandished banners reading "politicians traitors", an AFP journalist said on Sunday. They marched towards the offices of the governing parties of SYRIZA and ANEL, with some turning violent and hurling objects. Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.

Greece and Macedonia last week signed a historic preliminary agreement to rename the small Balkan nation the Republic of North Macedonia, ending a row that has poisoned relations between the two neighbours since 1991.

Protesters opposing the changing of Macedonia's name. AP

Protesters opposing the changing of Macedonia's name. AP

As the two countries' foreign ministers signed the deal Greek protesters clashed with riot police, who beat them back with tear gas near the small Greek village of Pisoderi, 25 km away. Six policemen and six protesters were injured, police said, as around 500 demonstrators waving Greek flags tried to approach the ceremony.

The accord aims to start unravelling one of the world's longest diplomatic disputes, which began 27 years ago with Macedonia's declaration of independence but dates back centuries. Since 1991, Athens has objected to its neighbour being called Macedonia because it has its own northern province of the same name, which in ancient times was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire — a source of intense pride for modern-day Greeks.

Greek Prime Minister Alexi Tsipras has been accused of treachery by Greek hardliners, and last week defeated a vote of censure against his government amid protests and clashes with police outside parliament.

Updated Date: Jun 25, 2018 10:32 AM

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