Skopje, 29 Dec. (AKI) - Greece has vehemently protested against Macedonian government plans to name the airport in the capital of Skopje after an ancient Greek military commander, Alexander the Great, saying it would further strain the relations between the two countries. "Skopje is again seeking a false base in the past,” said Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoiani. "Alexander the Great was a leading figure of global dimensions who, by spreading Greek civilisation though the whole world known at that time, established the foundations of history,” said Bakoiani.
"After 2,300 years, history can neither be changed, nor falsified,” she added. "Such behavior will not help Skopje's NATO and European expectations," Bakoiani warned.
But her Macedonian counterpart, Antonio Milososki, said his government intended to go ahead with the plans to re-name Skopje airport, denying they are an attempt "to monopolise the name of a world historic figure which is glorified in many countries”
Greece has threatened it would block Macedonia's entry into the European Union if the dispute wasn’t solved first, but Skopje poured new oil on fire on Thursday proposing to name the airport after Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.). Macedonia's population descended from Slavs who arrived there in the sixth century, but Macedonians claim they are ancestors of Alexander.
Greece and Macedonia established low-level diplomatic relations in 1995, despite Greek objections to Skopje using the country name of Macedonia, saying it implied claims on the northern Greek province of the same name. Under a compromise solution, the country that was created after disintegration of former Yugoslavia was internationally recognized as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRM), but Skopje continued to use the name of Republic of Macedonia.