The Association of Greek Clerics has thrown its considerable weight behind a rally that is set to take place in Athens on February 4 to protest ongoing negotiations between Athens and Skopje regarding the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
The association’s administrative council decided to endorse the rally even though Archbishop Ieronymos, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church, had discouraged such forms of opposition ahead of a rally last Sunday in Thessaloniki. What Greece needs, he had said during a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the subject of the Church's position vis-a-vis negotiations with Skopje, is “unity… not protests and cries.”
The decision to back next week’s rally at Parliament in Syntagma Square, said the association, is in accordance with the position of the Perpetual Holy Synod of the Greece, which objects – like the rally organizers – to the use of the word “Macedonia” in any proposal put forward to settle the name dispute. It says the use of the term could bolster claims by FYROM’s self-declared “Church of Macedonia.”
“It is impossible for the simple priest not to support his flock in this crucial time when the people spontaneously took to the streets to express their opinion and opposition on this major national issue,” the association’s announcement said.