Greeks rally in Athens over Macedonia name row

Hundreds of Golden Dawn members rallied in Athens on Saturday night

In Athens, the protests were led by 93-year-old composer Mikis Theodorakis, who wrote the score for "Zorba the Greek".

"For many Greeks that would be a step too far", says the BBC.

Athens thus seeks guarantees that the use of the name by its neighbour implies no claim to parts of its own territory.

Today's definition of the geographical region of Macedonia includes the present Greek administrative region of Macedonia as well as the whole of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

Tens of thousands of Greek protesters gathered on central Syntagma Square in Athens on Sunday, with many having travelled from across the country and overseas. This is Macedonia. Here, these are Slavs, they are not Macedonians, we are Macedonians.

"Generations of Skopjans have been raised on this idea", he said, using a common Greek term for the neighbouring nation. But the proposals have triggered protests in both countries. Protesters waved Greek flags and held banners reading "Hands off Macedonia!". Many diaspora Greeks from the UK, Canada, the USA and Australia also flew to Athens exclusively to attend the protest and took the first flight out in the morning.

"Tomorrow there are no parties, there are only Greece and Macedonia", bellowed Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos.

The country is recognised by worldwide institutions as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, even though about 130 countries refer to it simply as Macedonia.

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The dispute has caused Skopje's delays in Macedonia's accession to the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

The crowd at Sunday's rally in Athens jeered when speakers mentioned Nimetz's name.

Greece has opposed the name, saying its region has been named Macedonia since Alexander the Great - also known as Alexander III of Macedon - ruled from 336 BC.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, who is leading the talks, recently received a threatening letter that authorities believe was linked to the minister's attempts to resolve the long-standing dispute.

The republic is interested in the regime and the rights of all persons belonging to the Macedonian people in neighboring countries, as well as Macedonian expats, by assisting in their cultural development and and promoting bonds between them.

Thousands of Greeks also protested in Athens in what locals said was the largest gathering in decades.

Mr Ker-Lindsay said: "The real worry (at the protest) is that fringe elements would use this opportunity to start attacking police, use firebombs".

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