June 25, 2018 / 7:06 PM / 9 months ago

Greeks clash with police over Macedonia name deal

Protesters are silhouetted against burning dumpsters during clashes in a protest against the agreement reached by Greece and Macedonia to resolve a dispute over the former Yugoslav republic's name, in Thessaloniki, Greece, June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Dozens of Greeks clashed with police on Monday when they tried to storm a presentation by the ruling Syriza party aimed at explaining the virtues of a deal to change the name of Macedonia.

Greece and Macedonia signed a pact this month to rename the former Yugoslav state North Macedonia to end decades of dispute between them, but the move has fuelled protests on both sides of the border.

On Monday, dozens of protesters tried to force their way into a heavily-guarded exhibition hall in Thessaloniki where Syriza was delivering a presentation called “The Macedonia issue: benefits of the agreement and prospects for the Balkans.”

Protesters, some of whom were draped in the Greek flag, chanted “Macedonia is Greek” and shouted “traitors” as they pelted police with rocks. Riot police responded with rounds of tear gas.

Greeks have contested Macedonia’s name since it broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, saying it implied territorial claims over the Greek province of Macedonia and theft of ancient Greek culture and civilization.

Recent polls show up to 70 percent of Greeks object to the name compromise.

Writing by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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