Merkel backs name change for Macedonia on Athens trip

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Angela Merkel with Alexis Tsipras yesterday on her first visit to Athens for four years Angela Merkel with Alexis Tsipras yesterday on her first visit to Athens for four yearsALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS/REUTERS

Angela Merkel thanked Greeks for their sacrifices during the gruelling years of austerity yesterday and then urged them to take another step to which many are resolutely opposed: accepting a name change for their neighbour Macedonia.

Nearly 2,000 police were deployed as the German chancellor made her first visit to Athens for five years and demonstrations were banned around the official residence of Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister, where the pair met.

Security forces fired tear gas to disperse anarchist protesters who tried to break through police cordons, waving red flags and shouting: “Merkel, go home.”

Mrs Merkel’s visit to Athens, her first since 2014, was regarded as a chance to put relations between the two countries on a more stable footing. Greeks blamed the…

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