Macedonia could join EU as citizens back ‘name’ deal with Greece to end 25-year row

The survey by the Institute for Democracy Societas Civilis revealed that 61 per cent of the 1,000 people who responded supported making compromises with Greece over Macedonia’s name.

The deep-rooted disagreement is based on both sides seeing the name Macedonia as essential to their national identity. It is based on Greece claiming that the word Macedonia could be seen as a territorial claim to the northern Greek province of the same name.

The issue sparked mass protests in Greece, which is hugely proud of its ancient history, with protesters declaring on Sunday: “Macedonia is Greek, no one can take the name, no one can use it.” 

According to organisers, there were 1.5 million people at a protest in Athens on Sunday. 

World-famous Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis spoke against the use of the word Macedonia in the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. 

He told the rally: “Macedonia was, is and will forever be Greek.

“If a government considers signing on behalf of our country there is no doubt it must first ask the Greek people.

“If we give in, we are leaving the doors wide open for a tragic historical lie to come through and stay forever.”

The speeches focused on the history of Greek Macedonia and that it was unthinkable that the region could be threatened by a Slav neighbour. 

For more than a quarter of the century, Greece has been doing what it can to block any attempts by the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia to get international recognition under that name. 

Greece blocked Macedonia’s NATO membership and also stopped accession talks due to the dispute.

But this could change the pair ease tensions.

The Republic of Macedonia, which is a country in the Balkan peninsula declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. 

The Macedonian government has increased its efforts to reach a deal with neighbouring Greece to solve the name issue.