Shepparton Macedonian man Johnny Davkovski was among thousands of flag-waving protesters at a rally in Melbourne on Sunday, against a possible change to the name of the former Yugoslav republic.
Protesters gathered at cities across the world, including Brisbane and Sydney, to rally for Macedonia’s right to keep its name in an ongoing dispute with Greece.
There was a flood of red shirts, flags and signs that read ‘‘genocide’’ and ‘‘Macedonians against persecution’’ as the crowd marched towards state parliament from the Carlton Gardens.
Mr Davkovski said people had rallied as a result of a Macedonia-Greece agreement to step up UN-brokered negotiations this year to solve a decades-old dispute that has hampered Skopje’s ambition to join Nato and the EU.
‘‘With a change to the name there will be a flow-on effect, and that will affect history, buildings, and the language,’’ he said.
‘‘We have basically all come together to show our support for the Macedonians that still live there, under that corrupt government, and are afraid to have an opinion.
‘‘We want to get (the message) out what our ancestors went through, there was a genocide and that pain can’t be wiped out. The Greeks have a lot to answer for and we’re saying enough is enough.’’
A second-generation Australian, Mr Davkovski said he still had family in the country who were worried to speak out and believed that corruption would worsen if a deal was struck.
The Macedonian Government hopes the issue can be resolved in time for an EU meeting in June and a Nato summit in July, and is proposing a geographical qualifier to ensure there is clear differentiation between the two names.