Mass protest in Thessaloniki against use of ‘Macedonia’ in name dispute with Skopje

Thousands of people, carrying banners with messages ‘Macedonia was, will be Greek’; ‘The name is our soul’, took Sunday to the streets Thessaloniki to ‘defend the name’, MIA reports.

Hardline clerics, far-right leaders and Greek diaspora groups have called for the protest against the use of term ‘Macedonia’ in any solution to Athens-Skopje name dispute.

The organizers have been delivering speeches at the rally, which kicked off about 14:00h, reiterating the message that ‘Macedonia is Greek’. Some of them said that those ready to relent and give the name ‘Macedonia’ away would be labeled as national traitors. Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki was also one of the speakers at the rally.

Gathered around the statue of Alexander the Great in Thessaloniki were members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and local clergy, AFP reported.

Representatives from the main opposition party, New Democracy, were also present despite a tacit order from its liberal-minded leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to boycott the protests.

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.

Meanwhile, a small group representing anarchist and left-wing organizations are protesting in another part of Thessaloniki against nationalism, because they say ‘The whole country is our fatherland’ and ‘No blood for names and interstate conflicts.’