Greece’s greatest living composer and resistance icon Mikis Theodorakis on Sunday called for a referendum to be held on any government deal aimed at solving a long-running name row with Macedonia.
“Macedonia was, is and will forever be Greek,” 92-year-old Theodorakis told a massive crowd of protesters gathered in Athens.
“If a government considers signing on behalf of our country… there is no doubt it must first ask the Greek people,” he said, calling the neighbouring northern state “illegitimate”.
Athens objects to Macedonia’s name, arguing it suggests that Skopje has claims to the territory and heritage of Greece’s historic northern region of the same name.
However, leftist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been considering a resolution to the 27-year-old dispute, angering many opposition members and his own nationalist coalition partners.
Athens says it is ready to accept a composite name that will establish a clear distinction from Greek Macedonia.
Tens of thousands of Greek protesters gathered on central Syntagma Square in Athens on Sunday, with many having travelled from across the country and abroad.
Theodorakis claimed that Macedonia, with foreign backing, seeks to expand its borders at Greece’s expense.
“Generations of Skopjans have been raised on this idea,” he said, using a common Greek term for the neighbouring nation.
“They seek to join NATO and the EU with our own vote, so they can threaten us tomorrow from a position of strength.”
Zorba the Greek and Serpico composer Theodorakis, a hero of the resistance against the 1967-74 Greek dictatorship, has in the past made headlines with outspoken comments expressing support for Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic and likening former US president George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler.
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