NEWS

‘Magnificent rallies’ of yesterday

«Men, women and children from all over America formed a human wave that shook the US capital… declaring their determination not to allow any doubt as to the Greek character of Macedonia that gave birth to the likes of Alexander the Great and Aristotle» is how the Pan-Macedonian Association of America remembers the 1992 rallies outside the White House. Similar descriptions occur of other rallies in Brussels, Melbourne, Germany and New York, culminating in the three major rallies in Greece – two in Thessaloniki and one in Athens. One of the protagonists of those events was then Thessaloniki Mayor Constantine Kosmopoulos. «The climate of the time was nothing like today’s,» he recalls. «All the political parties were there, not only ND and PASOK but the Left Coalition, which now wants to forget that its deputies once stood in front of the podium. Even KKE was there in an unofficial capacity, allowing workers to take time off to come to the rally.» Kosmopoulos has other memories that are perhaps worth bearing in mind. «Schools closed by order of the state, factories and shops closed so everyone could come to the rally. It couldn’t have been otherwise. FYROM newspapers were publishing ‘Macedonian’ maps that showed their borders extending to Larissa. People were furious and the rallies were almost spontaneous, with the active participation of the Church. Deputies were competing to make statements on television.» As for the reactions of the then prime ministers Constantine Mitsotakis and Andreas Papandreou, he said: «They never disagreed. Only Mitsotakis rang me to ask me to avoid excesses at all cost and to make efforts to keep the rallies civilized, which is what happened, despite the fact that the crowd, according to police estimates, totaled over 500,000.» The question is now whether this week’s meetings will be of a similar size. «I have always been a patriot first, not a nationalist. The only thing I can say is that opportunities for a just solution – and there have been many in recent years – have been missed by those who claim to be patriots, accusing us of nationalism.»