About 5,000 people staged a protest in central Skopje yesterday evening, demanding that there be no change to their country’s name, and that the government break off talks with Greece over the matter.
The demonstration, which was organised by extreme nationalist and diaspora groups, began at the offices of the European Union in Skopje and ended up in front of the parliament of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Many of the protesters carried flags embossed with the sun of Vergina, the emblem of the royal house of ancient Greek Macedon, which was once the country’s official flag, until it was changed following agreement with Greece.
There was also a burning of a Greek flag.
Metropolitan bishops of the schismatic Orthodox Church of Skopje attended and addressed the rally.
The protesters demanded that their government accept no name change and no revision of FYROM’s Constitution, which Greece has demanded in order to remove irredentist references.
The protesters also expressed anger over the FYROM-Bulgaria friendship accord, signed last August by the two countries’ prime ministers.
They also denounced a bill making Albanian the country’s second official language. About 30 percent of the population is ethnic Albanian.