Friday, December 29, 2006

Greece accuses FYROM of 'falsifying' history in Alexander the Great row

ATHENS: Greece on Thursday reacted angrily to a decision by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to rename its capital's main airport after Alexander the Great, the famed warrior-king of antiquity that Greece considers an integral part of its own cultural heritage.

"History cannot change, or be falsified, 2,000 years on," Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said in a statement. Bakoyannis was responding to an announcement by her FYROM counterpart Antonio Milososki that the Skopje international airport is to be renamed 'Alexander of Macedon', the foreign ministry said.

"With its announcement today, (FYROM) once again seeks false supports in the past," the Greek foreign minister said. "Alexander the Great is a leading figure of global appeal...(a) Greek conqueror who established himself in history by spreading Greek culture across the entire known world," Bakoyannis added.

Greece is also at loggerheads with its tiny northern neighbour over its name, blocking the former Yugoslav province's efforts to gain international recognition as "Macedonia" after breaking away from Belgrade in 1991. Skopje wants the name Republic of Macedonia, as laid down in its constitution, to be used globally.

But Macedonia is also the name of a northern Greek region which was the seat of power of Alexander the Great, remembered for his conquest of Asia as far as modern-day India in the fourth century BC.

Athens threatens to block FYROM's ambitions to join the European Union and NATO unless it agrees to a compromise in a dispute over its name. "This behaviour is incompatible with (FYROM's) obligations for good neighbourly relations..and its pledges to the EU, and does not further its Euro-Atlantic aspirations," Bakoyannis said on Thursday.

In 1994, Athens imposed an embargo over the issue that cost FYROM some 2.2 billion dollars, according to Skopje's estimates.

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