Friday, December 29, 2006

A stir over name of Skopje’s airport

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) yesterday approved the renaming of the Skopje airport after Alexander the Great in a move Greece said will harm the country’s ties with its neighbors.

FYROM Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki confirmed the name change and pointed out that the historic military leader was an international figure and not the property of one country.

Milososki said the move is not a concealed attempt by FYROM to monopolize the name and Greece should not take it as a provocation.

But Athens responded by describing the name change as an attempt to use “spurious props from the past” to strengthen its position.

“The attitude shown by Skopje is not in line with its obligations for good-neighborly ties that result from its commitments to the European Union and are not in favor of its Euro-Atlantic ambitions,” said Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

Diplomatic sources in Skopje said that the name “Alexander the Great” was chosen over the other option, “Alexander of Macedonia,” so the title would be closer to the English name for the 4th century BC hero.

FYROM also approved yesterday the renaming of its second international airport in Ohrid as “Saint Paul.”

Greece has quarreled with FYROM over its name since the former Yugoslav republic declared its independence in 1991.

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