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Greeks rally over name dispute with neighbor Macedonia

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) – Over 100,000 Greeks have gathered in the northern city of Thessaloniki to demand that neighboring country Macedonia change its name because it is also the name of the Greek province of which Thessaloniki is the capital.

Greece and the Republic of Macedonia have been locked in the name dispute ever since the latter declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. The country is officially represented in international organizations as The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Rally organizers claim that 400,000 people took part Sunday, while police unofficially estimated the crowd at 100,000.

Greek protesters wave flags and banners during a rally against the use of the term “Macedonia” for the northern neighbouring country’s name, at the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. Greek authorities argue that the name Macedonia might suggest that Skopje has territorial claims to the northern Greek region of the same name with Thessaloniki as its capital, but recent talks have led to optimism for a solution. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

The rally was staged in front of the statue of Alexander the Great, the most famous ruler of the ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedonia.

Greek protesters wave flags and a banner reading " Macedonia is one and is Greek", during a rally against the use of the term "Macedonia" for the northern neighbouring country's name, at the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018.  Greek authorities argue that the name Macedonia might suggest that Skopje has territorial claims to the northern Greek region of the same name with Thessaloniki as its capital, but recent talks have led to optimism for a solution. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

Greek protesters wave flags and a banner reading ” Macedonia is one and is Greek”, during a rally against the use of the term “Macedonia” for the northern neighbouring country’s name, at the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. Greek authorities argue that the name Macedonia might suggest that Skopje has territorial claims to the northern Greek region of the same name with Thessaloniki as its capital, but recent talks have led to optimism for a solution. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

A Greek protester dressed in traditional costume rides a horse in front of a statue of Alexander the Great, ahead of a rally against the use of the term "Macedonia" for the northern neighboring country's name, at the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. A flurry of recent talks between officials from the two countries, coupled with a new, more moderate government coming to power in Macedonia, have led to optimism that a solution might finally be within reach. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

A Greek protester dressed in traditional costume rides a horse in front of a statue of Alexander the Great, ahead of a rally against the use of the term “Macedonia” for the northern neighboring country’s name, at the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. A flurry of recent talks between officials from the two countries, coupled with a new, more moderate government coming to power in Macedonia, have led to optimism that a solution might finally be within reach. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

Greek protesters dressed in traditional costumes pose in front of a statue of Alexander the Great, ahead of a rally against the use of the term "Macedonia" for the northern neighboring country's name, at the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. Recent talks between officials from the two countries, coupled with a new, more moderate government coming to power in Macedonia, have led to optimism that a solution might finally be within reach. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

Greek protesters dressed in traditional costumes pose in front of a statue of Alexander the Great, ahead of a rally against the use of the term “Macedonia” for the northern neighboring country’s name, at the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. Recent talks between officials from the two countries, coupled with a new, more moderate government coming to power in Macedonia, have led to optimism that a solution might finally be within reach. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

People walk between Greek flags ahead of a rally against the use of the term "Macedonia" for the northern neighbouring country's name, at the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018.  A flurry of recent talks between officials from the two countries, coupled with a new, more moderate government coming to power in Macedonia, have led to optimism that a solution might finally be within reach. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

People walk between Greek flags ahead of a rally against the use of the term “Macedonia” for the northern neighbouring country’s name, at the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. A flurry of recent talks between officials from the two countries, coupled with a new, more moderate government coming to power in Macedonia, have led to optimism that a solution might finally be within reach. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

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