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Thousands protest possible change of Macedonia’s name

March 4, 2018

People chant "Macedonia" during a protest against the change of the country's constitutional name, in downtown Skopje, Macedonia, Sunday, March 4, 2018. Several thousand protesters have gathered Sunday at Macedonia's main square in capital Skopje, demanding government to call off ongoing talks with neighboring Greece over a decades long name dispute. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — 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’s assertion that Macedonia’s name in its current form implies a territorial claim against its own region with the same name.

Zaev has said he could accept a “geographical qualifier” — such as “Vardar”, “upper” or “north” — as a compromise, but insists the new name must “respect the dignity” of Macedonia’s people.

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