The leftist-rightist coalition government on Monday took direct aim at one of Greece's political "sacred cows", a day after septuagenarian composer and leftist icon Mikis Theodorakis served as the primary speaker at a fYRoM "name issue" rally in central Athens.
In widely reported statements made to a state broadcaster, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos charged that Theodorakis' shift, as he claimed, to "positions that are intolerant and politically extreme is a sad development."
In a reversal of the "political barometer" on Syntagma square from several years ago, when the so-called "Indignados" protests served as one of the European left's main mustering points against austerity policies and strict bailouts, and where a celebration attracted hundreds of thousands of people in the wake of a high-profile "No" vote in the July 2015 Greek referendum, Sunday's mass rally featured intense opposition overtones against the current "strange bedfellows" Greek coalition government.
The Tsipras government's annoyance with the Athens rally was evident from comments before and after Sunday, with the spokesman saying he believes it was "not a correct choice (for Theodorakis) to appear and speak in the manner he did at the rally."
One of the more caustic statements by Theodorakis, among the most vocal opponents of a military junta that ruled Greece between 1967 and 1974, was a reference to "left-wing fascism".
The rally on Sunday, weeks after a similar protest in the northern city of Thessaloniki, essentially aims to pressure the government and opposition parties not to agree to any "name issue" solution that includes the term "Macedonia" for the neighboring country. The more hard-line position, however, would alter a political party leaders' council decision dating to 2007-2008, when practically all Parliament-represented party leaders, as well as then premier Costas Karamanlis, agreed to a composite name solution with a geographic qualifier before the name "Macedonia," and for all uses (erga omnes).