“Tens of thousands of flag-waving Greeks rallied in Thessaloniki Sunday, demanding Greece never compromise on the name Macedonia for its northern province.  Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic that shares the same name have been feuding over who gets to use it since Macedonia became independent Yugoslavia in 1991. Police put the turnout for Sunday’s march at 90,000 while organizers say it is much higher. Some of the protesters wore costumes from the period when Macedonia was ruled by the ancient Greek King Alexander the Great. They say allowing the neighboring country to use the name Macedonia insults Greek history and implies a claim on Greek territory.” (Voice of America)

“Hundreds of people have gathered in Macedonia’s capital to protest a bill that would make Albanian the country’s second official language. The protest in front of the parliament building in Skopje on Sunday was peaceful, although participants burned the European Union flag. The bill would give ethnic Albanians, who make up about one-quarter of Macedonia’s 2.1 million population, the right to use their language, along with Macedonian, in all transactions with state institutions. The groups that organized the protest — Macedonian Unity Force and “Hardcore — say bilingualism would diminish Macedonia’s unified character.” (Seattle Times)

“Visiting Skopje on Thursday the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and praised his country’s efforts and progress towards long-term political stability. ‘NATO will continue to support your country’s efforts,’ he said. The Secretary General also thanked the Prime Minister for his country’s continuing contributions to NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan, a clear sign of commitment to international security. Stoltenberg commended the efforts being made to find a solution to the name issue. ‘Agreement on this issue is crucial for your country to join NATO. The reforms you are working on are also important: good governance; strengthening the rule of law; building an open, multi-ethnic society; and good neighbourly relationships,’ he added. The Secretary General stressed that reform is not easy, but it can be done. He urged all parties to work constructively. ‘I encourage you to continue on the path of reform. We want you to succeed,’ he said.” (Eurasia Review)