Thousands of Greeks from all over the country, with some even making their way from abroad, descended on to Athens Syntagma Square yesterday to protest against FYROM using the name ‘Macedonia’ as negotiations between Greece and FYROM continue.
The ‘Macedonia is Greek’ rally drew in huge numbers although estimates differ. Police estimates put the number at around 140,000, but organisers put the number at a much more realistic one million. People arrived in central Athens on buses and ferries from all corners of the country.
In a statement, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that citizens had “expressed their anxiety and lack of trust in a government that did everything to divide Greeks on a crucial national issue.”
Right-wing MPs and clerics joined farmers, pensioners as well as young Greeks in a large crowd outside Parliament. Neo-Nazi thugs of the extreme-right Golden Dawn party also attended. Threats from extreme-left thugs, who had warned they would disrupt the rally, failed to materialise.
Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias critisised the UN’s special envoy in the dispute, who some have accused of being biased towards FYROM: “I clearly and sternly stressed that it is not within his competence to talk about what Athens’s policy is, much less to describe it incorrectly,” he said.
In a speech to demonstrators, respected composer Mikis Theodorakis did not mince his words: “There is only one Macedonia. It is, was and will always be Greek.” In an apparent dig at the leftist-led coalition, Theodorakis also hit out at “left-wing fascism.”