Officials in Athens are bracing for a massive rally that organizers hope will attract more than a million people to the center of the city.
Following a similar rally in Thessaloniki two weeks ago that brought hundreds of thousands of people to the city center, protestors want to send a message to the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that the use of the word “Macedonia” is not negotiable for the name of Greece’s northern neighbor, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The Greek government is currently in negotiations with FYROM, facilitated by United Nations negotiator Matthew Nimitz and numerous reports have claimed that a composite name will be given to the country, like New Macedonia or Northern Macedonia.
The two countries have been deadlocked for a quarter of a century and Greece has prevented FYROM’s entry into the European Union and NATO, until a solution to the country’s name is resolved.
Two out of three Greeks oppose any use of the name “Macedonia,” according to various polls.
Dozens of diaspora groups, particularly from the United States and Canada have been extremely vocal and thousands of people from North America are expected to be in attendance, including leadership from numerous diaspora Macedonian societies.
Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis is expected to address the rally, as are representatives of the Greek Orthodox Church, particularly from the northern Metropolises.
More than 1,5000 busses have been chartered from all corners of Greece to bring demonstrators to the rally and police in Athens are preparing for what a press spokesperson called “a large-scale event.”
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