Greeks to rally towards use of "Macedonia" in title…

Greeks to rally towards use of

Hundreds of thousands of Greeks in the northern city of Thessaloniki rallied on Sunday to protest against the use of the name "Macedonia" in any solution to a row between Athens and Skopje over the name of the former Yugoslav republic.

Macedonia is the name of a northern province in Greece of which Thessaloniki is the regional capital and Athens is anxious that the use of the same name by the neighboring state could lead to territorial claims.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who took power last May, has pledged to resolve the dispute and accelerate the country's bid to join the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - efforts which have thus far been blocked by Greece.

Cretans in traditional costumes who have travelled from the southern island with their horses, as well as people from northern Greece wearing costumes from the Macedonian wars era a century ago, were already gathered at the White Tower on the Thessaloniki waterfront ahead of the protest's planned start at 1200 GMT. They are united against the use of the name "Macedonia" in a long-running row with Skopje.

They waved Greek flags, held banners reading "There is only one Macedonia and it is Greek!" and chanted the national anthem as they rallied around the statue of Alexander the Great in the center of the city and along its seaside promenade and port.

Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos, after a meeting he had this week with Tsipras, said that he is not going to support any of the upcoming protests, as he has "confidence in the Greek government to handle our national issues".

Exploratory talks between representatives from both countries, mediated by the United Nations diplomat Matthew Nimetz, began last week.

Athens and Skopje are at odds over the use of the name of Macedonia since Greece's northern neighbor broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991.

On the other hand, Macedonia, according to Kathimerini would prefer more to use the name Republic of New Macedonia.

The rally is part of a 27-year disagreement between the Greek province of Macedonia, of which Thessaloniki is the capital, and the country of Macedonia.

A poll last week showed that a majority of Greeks do not want "Macedonia" used in any solution.

However, he told Ethnos newspaper that he could understand "the concerns and sensitivities" of Greeks in the region of Macedonia.

The country is officially represented in global organizations as The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

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