NEWS

Prespes rally organizers expect 600,000 to turn up

STAVROS PAPANTONIOU

TAGS: Politics

An organizer of the protest rally against the Prespes name deal has told SKAI radio that he expects upwards of 600,000 protesters to turn up in central Athens later Sunday.

People have already started converging in Athens' Syntagma Square to attend.

The rally takes place ahead of an anticipated vote on the Prespes name deal in Parliament next week, which the government expects to secure with a majority of at least 151. 

Citizens’ groups have intensified a campaign on social media to draw as many protesters as possible to Syntagma Square for a protest against the Prespes deal between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday. 

Dozens of buses have been chartered, with local authorities, churches and monasteries helping organize the transfer of people from around the country to the capital.
The Greek Police were to hold a meeting last night on security for the rally.

Meanwhile organizers said they expect an even bigger turnout than last February, when a large crowd rallied in Athens against a compromise on the name issue. Police put the turnout then at 140,000, while organizers claimed it was 10 times that. 

In comments to Kathimerini, Giorgos Tatsios, a member of the rally’s organizing committee, spoke of a “massive response” from around the country.

He would not reveal which guest speakers would address the event but said they would “get straight to the point.” “We have to prevent the national tragedy that is looming,” he said.

Public opposition to the accord is a concern but government officials appear optimistic about the outcome of a vote on it, which Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis indicated would take place late next week.

The debate is expected to be intense as virtually all opposition parties are against the deal. New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis yesterday called it a “national retreat.” 

Apart from the 145 SYRIZA MPs, it is expected that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras can count on the support of independent MP Katerina Papacosta, who is deputy citizens’ protection minister, Spyros Danellis, a former Potami MP who is now an independent, Independent Greeks (ANEL) MP Thanasis Papachristopoulos and probably Tourism Minister Eleni Kountoura, formerly of ANEL.

Potami’s leader Stavros Theodorakis and MPs Spyros Lykoudis and Giorgos Mavrotas are also expected to vote yes. If Democratic Left leader Thanasis Theoharopoulos also votes yes, the total would rise to 153.

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