Greeks protest against Macedonia's name
Thursday, 06 March 2008
Image Around  5,000 people have protested in Salonika against neighbouring Macedonia's use of the name Macedonia, which it shares with a northern province that Greece renamed to Macedonia in 1989.

Organised by the far-right party Laos, protesters gathered in the centre of the city of Salonika to protest against Macedonia.

Nearly 3,000 people took part in a second demonstration organised by an ultra-conservative bishop at a stadium in Salonika!

The city is located some 80 kilometres from the border with Macedonia. The protest came as Macedonia seeks to join NATO, with its bid being held up by NATO-member Greece.

Greece refuses to recognise Macedonia because it says it is worried it could imply a claim on their territory. 

Athens wants the name "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" to be used and threatens to use its right to veto on NATO's decision whether to invite Skopje. Macedonia disagrees with Greece's stance and hopes to receive an invitation to join NATO at an upcoming summit in Bucharest in April. Two thirds of the NATO members have already recognized Macedonia under its constitutional name.

The issue will be discussed on Thursday in Brussels at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

UN mediator Matthew Nimetz held talks on Wednesday in Skopje and Salonika with representatives of the two countries over his most recent proposal that Macedonia use two names.

According to the proposal by Nimetz, one name would be for internal use and bilateral relations with some countries, while the other would be used internationally, including for passports. The negotiation gap at the moment is rather large between the two sides. 

Foreign observes say it's a first time that one country asks another country to change its name, all admitting that what Greece is doing is highly illegal. 


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