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Greek protesters clash with police after Macedonia name deal

AFP logoAFP 17/06/2018
Greek protestors were surrounded by police near the small village of Pisoderi © Provided by AFP Greek protestors were surrounded by police near the small village of Pisoderi

Greek protesters on Sunday clashed with riot police, who beat them back with tear gas after a historic Greek-Macedonian deal to terminate a 27-year name row.

The demonstrators, waving Greek flags, had tried to approach the signature ceremony on the banks of Lake Prespa.

But they were surrounded by police near the small village of Pisoderi, some kilometres (miles) away from the ceremony.

One detachment of riot police blocked the rural road leading to the lake, while others on mountain slopes threw stun grenades and tear gas at the crowd.

The authorities said some 500 people took part in the protest.

"We are fighting for the land of our fathers. We are not backing down," a protester said.

While the demonstration took place, the foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia signed a preliminary accord to rename the country the Republic of North Macedonia, a move hailed by the European Union, the United Nations and NATO.

Since 1991, Athens has objected to its neighbour being called Macedonia because it has its own northern province of the same name, which in ancient times was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire -- a source of intense pride for modern-day Greeks.

At the fishing village of Psarades, where the deal was signed, priests tolled the local church bell in a sign of mourning, an AFP reporter said.

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