Macedonian nationalist organisations protested in front of the parliament in Skopje, Wednesday, where MPs were debating on whether to change the country's name to 'North Macedonia', ahead of a scheduled vote to settle a long-lasting dispute on the matter with Greece. Four people were reportedly arrested during the demonstrations.
The protesters braved the snow in the Macedonian capital, waving... Еще flags and taking turns to address the crowd from a podium. Some of them raised their voices against the nationalist opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, with one speaker claiming they falsly «beat their chest» about being patriotic.
«All the MPs from VMRO-DPMNE beat their chest, convincing us that they're the biggest patriots in the Republic of Macedonia, but they're the same [as the ruling SDSM]. They committed the biggest treason,» shouted one protester.
VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickovski was seen among the crowd, speaking with some of the protesters after his parliamentary group had left the session, after refusing to vote.
The protesters also spared no criticism for President Gjorge Ivanov, blaming him for inadequately representing Macedonia's national interests. They marched towards his residency, but were prevented from reaching it by a police cordon.
Athens and Skopje reached a name deal under which the former Yugoslav republic would be known as the Republic of North Macedonia, but the agreement has sparked protests in both countries.
Many in Greece have seen the name 'Macedonia' as posing a threat to the Greek state, arguing that it implies a territorial claim over the eponymous region of northern Greece.
The naming dispute dates back to Macedonia's declaration of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. As a result, international organisations and states that do not recognise the constitutional name 'Republic of Macedonia' refer to it as 'the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia' (FYROM).