According to police reports, more than 140,000 Greeks flooded Syntagma Square and the surrounding streets in central Athens to protest about the mooted FYROM names, while the organisers of yesterday’s rally estimate about 1.5 million people to have attended.
The majority of Greek people objects to FYROM being named Macedonia, or even the new name featuring the term ‘Macedonia’ as a compound for fear it would lead to a territorial claim on Greece’s northern Macedonia region.
Demonstrators of every age and background gathered and chanted “hands off Macedonia” and “Macedonia is Greece” waving their Greek flags outside parliament.
Elefsina toll station reported 94 charter buses passing through to Athens with Afidna recording 189. Many diaspora Greeks from the UK, Canada, the US and Australia also flew to Athens solely to attend the protest and took the first flight out in the morning.
Iconic Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, 92, was also there and took to the stage to address the public and the members of the Greek government.
“If a government considers signing on behalf of our country… there is no doubt it must first ask the Greek people,” he said asking for a referendum.
“Macedonia was, is and will forever be Greek,” he shouted calling FYROM an “illegitimate state”.
Metropolitan of Syros island, Dorotheos was next, followed by constitutionalist George Kasimatis, Mayor of Marousi George Patoulis, Nina Gatzoulis from the Pan-Macedonian Unions and more.
The protest was peaceful with one group of unidentified men wearing balaclavas attacked police forces throwing flares about 4pm. The police responded with limited chemical use. Another episode was recorded later with 200 hooded men carrying Greek flags attacking police forces on the corner of Amerikis and Panepistimiou street. There was one arrest.