Thousands of flag-waving protesters in the Macedonian capital on Sunday chanted “We are Macedonians” at a rally to protest a possible change to the name of the former Yugoslav republic to comply with a demand by Greece.
The protesters organised by the We are Macedonia movement gathered under the statue of Hellenic ruler Alexander the Great in Skopje’s main square.
“We are here because questions about the name, the identity, the constitution (and) language are issues over which we must adopt a (strong) position,” Evica Stojanova-Kamberova, one of rally organisers told the crowd.
The small republic and its southern neighbour Greece have agreed to step up UN-brokered negotiations this year to solve a decades-old dispute that has hampered Skopje’s ambition to join Nato and the European Union.
Protesters demanded that the government of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev halt talks with Greece over the name dispute.
They also want a resolution to the United Nations demanding the country’s recognition under its constitutional name Macedonia.
They also accused the government and the main opposition nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party of betraying the national interest.
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