The north of Greece is known as the region of Macedonia, with its regional capital Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-biggest city. It has a distinctly different atmosphere from the richer more southern Athens.
In the summer, Eastern Europeans and Russians crowd the beaches there whilst the richer Western Europeans go to the islands of Crete, Lesbos and others. Bit more luxurious.
All good there.
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But twenty-five years ago, when neighbouring country Yugoslavia broke up into different regions after their civil war, the southern part of Yugoslavia, which historically had been a part of Macedonia, wanted to name itself …. Macedonia. Much to the discontent of the Greek region of Macedonia’s inhabitants, who immediately protested with 1 million strong in Thessaloniki.
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Fast forward to 2018 and the now ‘FYROM’ region (for Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia) is well aware that the US and the European Union want it to join Nato and the EU, and is therefore once again making the demand to be able to change it’s name to … Macedonia.
So yesterday evening, the right-wing nationalist party known as Golden Dawn gathered in Athens, to protest against their neighbour.
Today, another rally took place in Athens, this time much bigger, bit without the far-right flags of the nationalists.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Boom! Protester in traditional costume at parliament <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Greece?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Greece</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Macedonia?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Macedonia</a> <a href="https://t.co/OZbcwcEJuh">pic.twitter.com/OZbcwcEJuh</a></p>— boris011 (@boris0119) <a href="https://twitter.com/boris0119/status/960148247552634880?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 4, 2018</a></blockquote>
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The Greeks realize that the EU and the US want FYROM to join, but they will have to convince them first of the need to do so with a name change. And getting Greeks to do anything they don’t want, is not too easy.