THESSALONIKI – Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras came to Greece’s second-largest city in a bid to convince people the deal he made to rename what is now North Macedonia would be good for business but was called a “traitor” for doing so.
The anti-nationalist Tsipras spearheaded the agreement that changed the name of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Yugoslavia (FYROM) that gave away the name of the ancient Greek province of Macedonia, where Thessaloniki is located, and was protested for it.
Hoping to reverse his falling fortunes in an election year, Tsipras came to the city to persuade residents and businesses the deal would help them economically but demonstrators were having none of what he was selling.
Tsipras was accosted by demonstrators who called him a “traitor” and chanted slogans that “Macedonia is Greek” as he arrived at the northern port city’s Vellideio Conference Hall to present SYRIZA’s candidate in the race for the regional governorship of Central Macedonia in May, Christos Yiannoulis, said Kathimerini.
Tsipras’s visit to Thessaloniki came ahead of his trip to North Macedonia’s capital of Skopje on April 2, accompanied by 70 businessmen but not Professional Chamber of Thessaloniki President, Michalis Zorpidis, who said he won’t go to Greece’s neighbor “as long as it is using a name that does not belong to it.”
Tsipras met with around 40 businessmen, urging them to invest in the neighboring country and to engage in trade even though still up in the air is whether businesses in North Macedonia can call some of their goods, products, and foodstuffs Macedonian, putting them in direct competition with the real Macedonia.
“The walls have come down,” Tsipras said of the deal he made, insisting it’s good for business and relations with North Macedonia and them.