News ID: 209444
Published: 0652 GMT February 05, 2018

Tens of thousands of Greeks protest Macedonia's name

Tens of thousands of Greeks protest Macedonia's name
Demonstrators hold a banner describing Macedonia as 'the pride of Greece' (PATRICK STRICKLAND/AL JAZEERA)

Athens, Greece — Chants blared through speakers as a crane lifted a massive Greek flag above Syntagma Square, where Greeks converged from across the country to rally against negotiations over a name dispute between Athens and Skopje.

Hundreds of buses transported demonstrators from across the country for the ‘Macedonia is Greek’ demonstration. Tens of thousands assembled in the city center, with organizers claiming more than one million people would take to the streets, Al Jazeera reported.

‘Hands off Macedonia,' they chanted.

‘Macedonia belongs to Greece,’ others yelled.

The demonstration comes two weeks after an estimated 300,000 people gathered in the northern coastal city of Thessaloniki to voice their opposition to the negotiations.

White-and-blue flags fluttered above, and throngs of demonstrators wearing traditional Macedonian garb marched in anger.

As that rally came to a close, anarchist counter-demonstrators clashed with police, and far-right protesters lit an anarchist squat on fire.

Assailants later vandalized a Holocaust monument.

Before Sunday's rally in Athens, activists carried out security patrols to protect dozens of squats in the city center from potential attacks.

Nasim Lomani, an activist at the City Plaza squat, which provides residence to upwards of 350 refugees and migrants, said extra security precautions were taken.

"All the squats are ready to protect themselves in case of any fascist attack," he told Al Jazeera. "There are fascists coming from all over Greece so we have to be careful."

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