Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s visit to Thessaloniki on Thursday as part of his government’s bid to reverse its popularity slide in northern Greece due to the Prespes accord and to highlight its economic prospects got off to a shaky start as he was heckled by protesters.
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.
Tsipras’s visit to Thessaloniki came ahead of his trip to North Macedonia next Tuesday in the company of 70 businessmen.
The delegation to Skopje will not be joined by the Professional Chamber of Thessaloniki after its president, Michalis Zorpidis, said he will not go to North Macedonia “as long as it is using a name that does not belong to it.”
To the end of promoting the opportunities afforded by the name deal, Tsipras met with around 40 businessmen, urging them to invest in the neighboring country and to engage in trade.
“The walls have come down,” he said in reference to the accord, insisting that northern Greece will be able to turn a page and improve its economy.
The Greek premier will also be accompanied in Skopje by Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis, who on Thursday reiterated Greece’s growing concern over the behavior of its eastern neighbor Turkey.
“A perennial problem is Turkey, which has its own agenda, moves in its own way and does not cooperate well with its neighbors, nor with its historical allies,” he said after meeting with Archbishop Demetrios of America in New York.
Speaking in light of the recent escalation of tension emanating from Ankara, Apostolakis said Greece experiences problems with Turkey “daily.”