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Free Macedonian Language Classes Coming Online in Greece

ATHENS – While not all aspects of a deal that gave away the name of the Greek province of Macedonia to North Macedonia have been finished, Greece will allow th opening of a Macedonian language center.

Former North Maceodnia Premier Zoran Zaev, whose government negotiated with the then-ruling Radical Left SYRIZA to rename the-then Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was delighted with the move, said Balkan Insight (BIRN.)

The non-profit organisation, called the Centre for the Macedonian Language in Greece and based in Florina, northern Greece, is to start delivering free Macedonian language courses online.

The center wants to introduce the Macedonian language to public schools and universities and support the training of local Macedonian language teachers and push for the language’s recognition as a minority tongue by the Greek government, the report said.

It also will advocate for the rights of Macedonian speakers in Greece to use their language, including the use of traditional place names in northern Greece, alongside today’s place names.

It will also focus on documenting local dialects of the Macedonian language, creating a digital database of places in Greece where the Macedonian language is spoken today, and track human rights violations and hate speech by authorities against Macedonian speakers, the site said.

Zaev, on Facebook, thanked Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitstotakis and former Greek Premier and SYRIZA leader PM Alexis Tsipras, saying the language center was the result of the new name passage.

“They bring joy to all of us who speak Macedonian, to all Macedonians. Congratulations to the Center for the Macedonian Language founders in Greece and to all the citizens of North Macedonia and Greece who rejoice in this fine act which is particularly important as another confirmation of the close relations between the two countries,” said Zaev.

One of the founders of the Center told BIRN that a significant number of people still speak Macedonian as a first or second language, concentrated in the prefectures of Kastoria, Drama and Kavala.

Unofficial surveys put the number of Greek villages where the language is spoken at about 500 and the cities and towns at about 15, said the report.

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