SKOPJE, Macedonia – Several thousand protesters in Macedonia have demanded that the government call off ongoing talks with neighboring Greece over a decades-long name dispute.
Civic organizations joined under the motto "We are Macedonia" to organize a rally in the capital, Skopje, on Sunday. They are urging the government not to agree to any changes to the country's name and to protect the Macedonian national identity and language. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev's 9-month-old center-left government has opened negotiations to resolve Greece demands to change Macedonia's name.
Zaev has said he could accept a "geographical qualifier" — such as "Vardar", "upper" or "north" by Macedonians don't like that because if they change their name they also will change their identity, culture, language, history and heritage. Macedonians all over the world gather and protest for their basic human right to be what they are Macedonians.
Greece like to steal their identity as Macedonian people, and in the past century they did genocide of Macedonia people specially that one that lived in Greece
Evica Stojanova-Kamberova, one of the organisers told the crowd: “We are here because questions about the name, the identity, the constitution [and] language are issues over which we must adopt a (strong) position.” The small republic and its southern neighbour, Greece, have agreed to step up UN-brokered negotiations this year to solve a decades-old dispute that has hampered Skopje’s ambition to join Nato and the European Union.
Protesters demanded that the prime minister, Zoran Zaev, halt talks with Greece over the name dispute. They also want a UN resolution demanding recognition of the country under its constitutional name of Macedonia. They like to change the name of R.Macedonia fast so in the next summit of NATO this country will become member and to start negotiation for entrance in EU.
But Macedonia people are against that, name changing and against EU and NATO.
Because that is the big price to pay by losing their name, identity and Macedonia culture. The protests over the past days show that Macedonians are united in the defense of our name and Macedonian identity, and do not consider membership in NATO and the EU worthwhile," Petrov said on Sunday. "Macedonians now fully resist attempts by Washington to usher Macedonia into NATO at the expense of the fundamental principle of national self-determination, and demand entry in the UN family of nations under its name and without being discriminated against, as it has been for the past three decades." Earlier in the day, up to 50,000 Macedonians protested in Skopje demanding an end to negotiations about Macedonia’s name. More than 100,000 Macedonians rallied in various cities in Australia and thousands of others protested in Europe — including in Amsterdam, Malmo, Prague — as well as in Washington, DC one day earlier.
The "Our Name Is Macedonia" campaign, originated by the Canada-based Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) in 2010, has led the charge and has spawned new movements to stop the negotiations about the name Macedonia and the Macedonian identity. Moreover, Petrov said, the protests echoed the demand for the Macedonian government to reject the law on Albanian as the second official language, which is seen as leading to the federalization of Macedonia. "The pressure from the United States is a part of its geo-strategic calculation to cut off entry to Russia and China in the Balkans, by promoting, among other measures, the project of ‘Great Albania.’ The worldwide protests clearly expressed the will of Macedonians to defend the unitary nature of our country." MHRMI President Bill Nicholov told Sputnik that the protests also revealed the Macedonian people’s opposition to the government of the Socialdemocratic Union (SDSM) led by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. "The protests deny legitimacy to any and all moves and agreements by the US-installed government to capitulate to neighbors’ demands and sell off Macedonia’s history, church, name and Macedonian identity," he said. Nicholov noted the protests also channel Macedonians’ dissatisfaction with restricted media freedom, a general sense of insecurity born out of the release of hundreds of criminals — including sentenced Albanian terrorists — the threats and imprisonment of Macedonians who oppose the government as well as a non-transparent way of governing that has relativized institutions.