Just hours after a historic deal was signed by the foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia ending a decades-long name dispute, the Macedonian opposition held a rally in the town of Bitola. They vowed to reject the agreement, which say is national treason. CGTN’s Aljosa Milenkovic reports from Bitola.
As news of the signing of the agreement reached Bitola, protesters here started gearing up. They staged a ritual funeral procession through the city center to show their sadness for the new name of the small Balkan nation: The Republic of North Macedonia.
Supporting them was Hristijan Mickoski, the leader of Macedonia’s largest opposition VMRO-DPMNE. They said they will not accept the deal, and they don’t want the name of the country to change.
“My great grandfather was Macedonian. His great grandfather was Macedonian, my children are Macedonian, and I’d like my grandsons to be Macedonians. What other country, besides us would ever change its name? Is there such a country? I don’t think so. And why we need to be first to give up our name?” said Macedonian Spase Cakreski.
Mickoski was the only speaker at a local rally, and he demanded the deal not just be scrapped, but also that current government leaders step down.
“In this dark tunnel for us, one thing is for sure, Zaev has to go down, so Macedonia can rise. That’s the main goal. Zaev to fall, so Macedonia can rise, leader of VMRO-DPMNE party,” Mickoski said.
Mickoski said his party will not support the agreement in the Macedonian parliament. And without that support, this deal cannot be ratified.
Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov has also promised to veto the name deal, signaling a difficult time ahead for the government.
Remi Piet on what a name change means for Macedonia and Greece
CGTN’s Frances Kuo interviewed Remi Piet, a research associate at the European Union Center at the University of Miami, about the significance of Macedonia’s name change and relations with Greece.