Demonstrators wave Greek flags and shout slogans to protest against the Macedonian name deal in Athens, Greece, on Jan. 20, 2019. A mass rally held in front of the Greek parliament in Athens over the Macedonia name deal was marred by violent clashes on Sunday. Syntagma Square was converted into a battlefield when hooded protesters, trying to get into the parliament's courtyard, threw rocks and firebombs at riot police. Police forces used tear gas to repel the attempt. (Xinhua/Lefteris Partsalis)
ATHENS, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- A mass rally held in front of the Greek parliament in Athens over the Macedonia name deal was marred by violent clashes on Sunday.
Syntagma Square was converted into a battlefield when hooded protesters, trying to get into the parliament's courtyard, threw rocks and firebombs at riot police. Police forces used tear gas to repel the attempt.
According to a press release of the Greek police, 25 police officers were injured and transferred to hospital. Twelve protesters were detained and seven were arrested. A photojournalist and a cameraman from public ERT TV were also injured during the rally.
"Unfortunately, once again, the rally was gripped by extremist elements and members of the extreme-right party of Golden Dawn who in their attempt to enter the parliament with rocks and wooden bats sent many wounded people to the hospital," a statement from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' office read after the clashes.
Thousands of people gathered in Syntagma Square to oppose the use of the term "Macedonia" in any resolution of the name row with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), ahead of an anticipated vote on the name deal in the Greek parliament in the coming week.
Greek police estimated some 60,000 would attend the rally. About 2,000 policemen had been deployed across the capital as part of security measures to maintain order.
Waving Greek flags despite the rain in Athens, protesters chanted "Macedonia is Greece", opposing the ratification of the deal.
"We came with low hopes that the name deal will not pass. We are going to be wherever needed to defend our ancestors' legacy," self-employed Christos told Xinhua. He travelled from Laconia region in the southeastern part of the Peloponnese to join the rally.
"We are not aware of the agreement's content. I want to know exactly what is contained in the deal, so this rally would be effective," another protester, Vicky Simou from Athens, said.
"The general opinion that the deal is beneficial for Greece is not enough. Can they be more explicit on the benefits of this deal?" asked professor of linguistics Ermioni attending the rally.
With the Prespes (the site where the agreement was signed last summer) name deal, the Greek government is expected to put an end in the long-running dispute over FYROM's official name.
Under the agreement, FYROM will be renamed Republic of North Macedonia in exchange of the clearing of the path to its accession to the EU and NATO.
Athens had expressed concern of future territorial claims from the moment the new state declared independence from Yugoslavia picking the same name used by a northern Greek province.
Skopje's parliament approved a few days ago the final constitutional amendments agreed between the two sides to end such fears.
The deal also needs to be ratified by the Greek parliament before it comes into effect.