Published: Sun, June 17, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Greeks kick off protests against Macedonia deal

Greeks kick off protests against Macedonia deal

The nationalist party that is a junior coalition partner says it will reject the motion despite vehemently opposing the name deal that Tsipras reached with his Macedonian counterpart. It believes that the deal - which allows the neighboring country to retain the name Macedonia only with the geographic qualifier "Northern" - violates national interests.

Conservative New Democracy party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had brought the no-confidence motion, argued that a vote in favor of the government was a vote in favor of the name deal.

Macedonia is also the name of a northern province in Greece.

Thousands of protesters rallied outside parliament during the debate, waving Greek flags and chanting anti-government slogans.

Zaharieva said that eight months after the signing of the Bulgarian - Macedonian good-neighbourliness agreement, "people here saw that it is only positive, and today 70 per cent of your country's citizens support it".

And Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said after talks with Ivanov that, in the light of the deal with Greece, Bulgaria should seek to revise aspects of the friendship pact it signed with Macedonia past year.

It is now known formally at the United Nations under the interim name "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia". His junior partner, Pavlos Kamenos of the Independent Greeks party, said that he does not intend to topple the government though he opposes the name deal.

Much of the criticism of the agreement in Greece has focused on the government's acceptance that the neighbouring country's language and ethnicity will be called "Macedonian". Both prime ministers will attend the ceremony, as will European officials.

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"We have forces that are fighting for the future, we have forces that are fighting for the past", Dimitrov said in Skopje.

The solving of the name row that has existed between two countries is seen as the main obstacle Macedonia has to overcome in order to make progress towards European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation integration.

"Today we are not voting on the deal", he said.

In Macedonia, implementation of the deal has to clear the hurdles of parliamentary ratification, a referendum in September and a constitutional amendment.

Barbarousis claimed the country's political leadership "does not legislate laws that are in favor of the nation" and urged the army to arrest President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Premier Alexis Tsipras and ANEL leader Panos Kammenos "to avert this treason", that is, the the deal with Skopje.

In Greece, the deal faces ratification in parliament only after Macedonia has completed its part of the process.

Meanwhile in Macedonia, Zaev was faced with a refusal by the country's president, Gjorge Ivanov, to sign off on the deal if it's ratified by parliament.

"This is an absolute defeat of the Macedonian diplomacy in every possible way", Hristijan Mickovski, who heads the main opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, said this week.

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