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"Our Name Is Our Soul" - Greek Protesters Hurl Molotov Cocktails At Police Over Macedonia Name

In one of the most violent protests on the streets of Athens since the Greeks last narrowly avoided an all-out economic collapse back in 2015, thousands of angry Greeks gathered outside the Parliament in Athens on Sunday to protest an agreement between the Greek government and the government of Macedonia that aimed to put to rest a long-simmering conflict between the two neighbors over - of all things - the formal name of the former constituent of Yugoslavia.

In an accord that will help clear the way for Macedonia to potentially join the EU, Macedonia has agreed to change its name from the "Republic of Macedonia" to the "Republic of Northern Macedonia" under a deal between the two countries that was ratified in both Athens and Skopje.

Protesters tossed Molotov cocktails and attacked police, who responded by tear gassing the crowd.

But nationalist Greeks, who have long objected to Macedonia claiming the name "Macedonia" (which is also the name of a province in Northern Greece), have been infuriated by the deal. Many believe that the use of the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim on the Greek province, according to CNN.

"Giving away the name Macedonia means giving away our land. The aim of the protest rally is to send a message to politicians. Our name is our soul," Giorgos Tatsios, a member of the rally's organizing committee, said.

The protesters waved flags and chanted slogans including "Macedonia is Greece" and "Hands off Macedonia."

Giorgos Golas, 46, who traveled to Athens for the day to attend, said living in the northern Greek town of Ptolemaida made him feel "vulnerable."

"We don't want an agreement that does not protect us from minority issues being raised or territorial claims."

Greek police said 60,000 people took part in the rally, which was held ahead of a vote in Parliament that could take place as early as next week. The agreement is widely expected to be ratified, despite all opposition parties opposing the deal. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he believes its his "patriotic duty" to ratify the agreement, despite its unpopularity.

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