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Greece: Mass protest over name row with Macedonia  

Greeks from all over the country and abroad chanted "Hands off Macedonia", "Macedonia is Greek" and "We won't leave until we are vindicated" | Youtub snapshot

Tens of thousands of Greeks staged a mass rally in Athens on Sunday, urging the government not to compromise in a bad name row with neighboring Macedonia, said the Telegraph.

As a huge Greek flag flew over central Syntagma Square from atop a crane, Greeks from all over the country and abroad chanted "Hands off Macedonia", "Macedonia is Greek" and "We won't leave until we are vindicated". Among those in the cross-generation crowd were former PM Antonis Samaras - who was foreign minister when the name row began in 1991 - in addition to mayors, senior clerics, army officers and monks.

Keynote speaker Mikis Theodorakis, the renowned Zorba the Greek composer and resistance icon said that "Macedonia was, is and will forever be Greek," 92-year-old Theodorakis told the cheering crowd of protesters.

"If a government considers signing on behalf of our country... there is no doubt it must first ask the Greek people," he said, calling the neighboring northern state "illegitimate". He also called on the government to hold a referendum before taking a decision.

Athens objects to Macedonia's name, arguing it suggests that Skopje has claims to the territory and heritage of Greece's historic northern region of the same name.

However, leftist Tsipras has been considering a resolution to the 27-year-old dispute, angering many opposition members and his own nationalist coalition partners.

Several protesters wore traditional garb, including the uniform of Greek guerrillas who fought Bulgarian bands and Ottoman forces in Macedonia in the early 20th century.

"Cretan eagles lie in the earth of Macedonia," a Cretan representative told the crowd. "We tell our sister, Macedonia, we will not allow anyone to carve you up."

Organizers reported some 1.5 million people from across Greece and the Greek diaspora turned out to express their opposition to attempts by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' government to broker a deal.