ATHENS (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of Greeks rallied in Athens on Sunday to protest against a deal with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia that settles a row between the two countries and is set for a vote in Greece’s parliament next week.
Soon after the rally started at 1200 GMT, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters outside parliament as demonstrators chanted Macedonia is Greek and waved Greek flags.
The rally was one of the biggest demonstrations in Athens, over the Macedonia name agreement.
Many Greeks believe the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim over their country’s own northern region of that name.
The issue evokes strong emotions among Greeks who consider Macedonia, the ancient kingdom ruled by Alexander the Great, to be an integral part of their homeland and heritage.
The accord clinched between Athens and Skopje was ratified by Macedonia’s parliament this month. Greek parliamentary endorsement is a necessary step for the tiny Balkan nation to start the process to join the European Union and NATO.
(Reporting by Michele Kambas and George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Janet Lawrence)