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Greece Slates Skopje’s ‘Provocative’ Alexander Statue

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Athens warns that attempt to ‘usurp Greek history’ will impact on Macedonia’s hopes of joining NATO and EU

By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Greek officials have condemned Macedonia’s move to erect a giant statue of Alexander the Great in the heart of the capital, Skopje, as provocative and retrograde.

The equestrian monument was “an attempt to usurp Greek history”, Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Gregory Delavekouras said, in a statement.

Delavekouras said that in the light of the ongoing dispute between the two countries over Macedonia’s name, the move “undermines our bilateral relations and hampers the negotiations under the UN” aimed at reaching a compromise solution.

Dalavekouras warned that the move might have additional negative repercussions for Macedonia’s already stalled Euro-Atlantic integration prospects.

In 2008 Greece prevented Macedonia’s accession to NATO over the unresolved “name” dispute. In 2009 Greece also prevented the EU from extending a date for a start to Macedonia’s EU accession talks.

“While Greece is pursuing a solution consistently and in a constructive spirit, [Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola] Gruevski is making provocations to avoid reality, undercutting his fellow citizens’ European future,” the Greek spokesman said.

“He needs to get back to reality right now and work sincerely and seriously towards achieving a solution.”

Greek officials spoke out after parts of the huge equestrian statue arrived on Tuesday in Skopje’s central square, ready for assembly over the coming days. The bronze equestrian statue of the ancient king will be some 24 metres high when erected.

Gruevski’s centre-right government, which is funding the erection of the statue, has been secretive about the total cost of the statue and the big fountain that will serve as a base.

The controversial statue is the hub of a massive government-funded revamp of the capital, dubbed “Skopje 2014”, which the government says will dignify the shabby-looking city.

Not all Macedonians have expressed enthusiasm about this very substantial addition to the city’s landscape.

Prime Minister Gruevski had “worsened Macedonia’s record poverty levels with yet another megalomaniacal statue that is costing citizens an unbelievable 10 million euros,” Kalinka Sentic Gaber, from the opposition Social Democrats, said on Tuesday.

The statue would “additionally complicate the already damaged international position of the country”, she added.

Macedonia’s relations with Athens are already strained by the two-decade-long row over Macedonia’s name, to which Greece objects.

Athens says use of the name “Macedonia” implies a territorial claim to the northern Greek province, also called Macedonia.

The Macedonian government has so far officially described the sculpture simply as an equestrian warrior, not mentioning that the warrior in question is Alexander the Great.

One of the first to arrive in the main square after news spread that part of the giant statue had arrived was the Dutch ambassador, Simone Filippini.

“Macedonians should judge it,” he said. “It is not for me to say what is good or bad here. I just see that it is going to happen now, and that it is going to be big.

“You have seen already the reactions from Greece and I think it is up to the Macedonian people to decide what they feel about this,” she added, asked whether she expected an adverse reaction from Greece.

The statue of Alexander in Skopje is the third that will be erected in Macedonia. Two others, in the towns of Prilep and Stip, are considerably smaller.
The erection of the statue comes just one week after the June 5 general election in whichGruevski’s conservative VMRO-DPMNE party won another four-year term.

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8 thoughts on “Greece Slates Skopje’s ‘Provocative’ Alexander Statue

  • June 16, 2011 at 6:26 am
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    Who is paying you Lol? Why do you always report in a negative way “provocative to whom” ? the majority in Macedonia have been denied everything Macedonian, just because we worship our heros and democracy we are labelled as demons. No Macedonian Journalist will write such stuff as you do. Progress in any society needs to build on the past and the past is our heroes. Just because we have been denied progress in the last 50 years because of the Yugo way, we will now build and progress like no other, so don’t be jeoulous, go with the flow. Greece has other more important things to be concerned with, like its survival and existence in this world. We are not unsurping anyone else history but are celebrating our own. Hope you can do better next time.

    Reply
    • June 16, 2011 at 9:29 pm
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      Did you say your own (history)?? Are you joking what do modern day Bulgarian speaking Slavs from Vardar Banovina of the former Communist Yugoslavia have to do with Makedonia?? Clearly youve never visited Pella or Thessaloniki in Makedonia. You should read the inscriptions there. Sure looks Hellenic to me so do the names, Gods, toponyms, architecture. Raise all the statues you want unfortunately that will never change your past or your ethnicity.

      Reply
  • June 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm
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    Another historical SHAM from none other than the same folks who for the better part of last century were residents of VARDAR BANOVINA speak a Bulgarian dialect and were part of the Yugoslav republic. Now they would like to sever their ties to their obvious past and forge with a NEW PAST (ANTIQUIZATION) borrowing historical elements from their neighbors. Of course if you would like to see real history you visit museums in Pella and Thessaloniki in Makedonia. No need to bring a Bulgarian dictionary Makedones spoke and maintain the same language Hellenic.

    Reply
  • June 16, 2011 at 10:11 pm
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    There are statues of Alexander all over Europe and Asia. Let’s not forget this was an Ancient Warrior that conquer large areas over 2000 years ago. Current Modern Greece & Macedonia have evovled without this Ancient History and peolpe have migrated all over the Balkans including Greece. Recent History has a current Region of Macedonia that was divided among Greece Bulgaria & Serbia. The current Greek govenment has now succumb to this realization and ackowlegde this fact. That’s why they want the Republic of Macedonia (which became independent from Serbia) to add a Geographical term to determin it’s part of Macedonia. So at the end of the day Greece and the uneducated people in this forum must get off their high horse and leave this small nation to do what ever it likes as they have rights as well and rights of self determination. It seems the History in this region has constantly been determined by bullies with privlidges but arrogantly without any appreciation of human dignity. Btw there are so many countries in the world more powerful than Greece that has town & Cities called Macedonia,and has statues of Alexander the Great without any challenge from Athens???

    Reply
  • June 17, 2011 at 4:27 am
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    1) Macedonians have and will always state we are a mix of the ancient Macedonians that lived in Macedonia and those Slavs that invaded the Balkans, we have stated we are descendants for a LONG time now
    2) Before the Megali Idea, Greek historians agreed with ancient historians in that Macedonians conquered Greeks and ended democracy in Greece
    3) Only until Macedonia’s independence became imminent did Greece change all the names of their airports and universities to “Macedonia”, change their province to “Macedonia and Thrace”, start using the Vergina Flag, and started erecting statues of Alexander the Great and Phillip II (so, around the time of 1990s). They even changed their TV channel name to “Macedonia”!
    4) Macedonia was divided in 1913 by Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. The portion that went to Greece underwent MASSIVE Hellenization… Hundreds of thousands of refugees were brought into Macedonia, only Greek language and religion was allowed in Macedonia, and the “removal” of Macedonians and the evidence of their existence continues to occur! In short: Macedonia was FORCIBLY Hellenized! Even Saloniki was JEWISH!
    5) Macedonians are not and will never be embarrassed of who they are, if the Greeks are unsure of who they are that is their problem, they cannot continue harassing everyone else over it: Albanians and Epirus, Macedonians and Macedonia, and Turkey and Cyprus!
    6) Greeks you are in massive debt, quite complaining about Macedonia, it is Greece that you need to fix

    Reply
    • June 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm
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      Warrior on a horse?? Is there anyone out there that actually believes this Cold war Yugo Cr*p?? Alexandros,Thessaloniki&Makedonia only have meaning in Hellenic and its not by accident.
      Retrofitting history to adjust your past has’nt worked at all just ask COMRADE TITO..Visit Pella and Thesssaloniki and see what the Macedonians thought BRING a BULGARIAN to HELLENIC dictionary to understand though..The name of the city has ALWAYS BEEN THESSALONIKI not Salonica or Solun..Same Communists different century..Yugoslavias legacy lives on..

      Reply
  • June 17, 2011 at 7:36 pm
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    those counties honor our Greek hero ALEXANDER THE GREAT not falsify ancient makedon history in order to built a fake identity to their people. What connection a slavic bulgarian origin nation (never been before 19th century) can have with antiquity?

    Reply

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