ATHENS – Greece’s police force (ELAS) said there was no brutality or excessive force used against protesters at a rally outside Parliament denouncing a deal to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) although tear gas was used.
In a statement, ELAS said police measures were aimed at ensuring public safety during the demonstration as well as safeguarding public buildings against intrusion and vandalism as rioters tried to storm stairs leading to a patio outside Parliament and battled police.
ELAS released an aerial video of the clashes, said authorities had received information that groups of protesters would attempt to storm Parliament and that maps had circulated showing how to get to the building.
Authorities said 28 police officers were injured during clashes with protesters outside Parliament in pitched assaults and counter-assaults in which demonstrators threw rocks, flares, firebombs, paint and other objects at riot police who responded with rounds of tear gas and repelled some protesters who jumped a fence before being chased off.
The fury over the deal hasn’t died down with another protest scheduled for the night of Jan. 24 before Parliament is to vote on the agreement with Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras confident he has enough votes from rival parties to get it done.
It has been a contentious proposition that has seen two-thirds of Greeks opposed to the agreement that would see FYROM be called North Macedonia – giving away the name of an ancient abutting Greek province – and its citizens called Macedonians with a Macedonian language, culture and identity and lift Greek vetoes keeping the country out of NATO and opening European Union accession talks.