Macedonia Ready To Give Up Claim On Sole Heir To Alexander The Great’s Legacy


(RFE/RL) — Macedonia’s prime minister says he is ready to renounce his country’s claim to be the sole heir of Alexander the Great’s legacy, a potential concession that could lead to the easing of a longstanding dispute with Greece.

“I give up [the claim] of Macedonia being the sole heir to Alexander,” Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told TV station Telma in an interview late on December 22.

“The history belongs not only to us, but also to Greece and many other countries,” the left-leaning prime minister added.

Alexander the Great is the famed ruler of the ancient Kingdom of Macedonia.

Greece has objected to Skopje’s use of the name “Macedonia” since its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, arguing that it implies territorial ambitions on the part of the country.

Athens’ objections have complicated Skopje’s aspirations to join NATO and the European Union.

Greece in 2008 blocked Macedonia’s bid to join NATO under its provisional name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) because of the dispute.

Zaev did not indicate how or if the country’s name would change if it were to give up the claim as Alexander’s sole heir.

Macedonia’s former conservative government pushed the use of the name, naming the country’s main highway and airport after Alexander and building a 28-meter-high monument in Skopje’s main square.

Former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski blamed his VMRO-DPMNE party’s fall from power on his refusal to compromise with Athens in the dispute. Gruevski has stepped down as party leader and was replaced by technocrat Hristijan Mickoski at the party convention on December 22.

Matthew Nimetz, the United Nations special representative for the naming dispute, said on December 12 that the issue “can and should be resolved” next year after the parties met for the first time in three years in Brussels.

Nimetz, a U.S. diplomat who is the personal envoy of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said after a meeting with Greek and Macedonian envoys that “the atmosphere is a much better one and from both Skopje, and Athens there is an indication that we should make an intensive effort to resolve this issue that has been outstanding for so many years.”

In his interview, Zaev also said he was optimistic Macedonia would be rewarded for its reform process with an invitation soon to begin EU membership talks.

“If we continue with reforms at a good pace, Macedonia will get a date for starting negotiations with the EU at the June summit,” he said.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

One thought on “Macedonia Ready To Give Up Claim On Sole Heir To Alexander The Great’s Legacy

  • December 30, 2017 at 8:24 am

    On the Greekness of ancient Macedonia and the ancient Macedonians consider Herodotus, who wrote hundreds of years earlier than the likes of Arrian, Plutarch, Curtius Rufus (before Alexander III, before even Philip II) and wrote of and as regards another Alexander of Macedon ….. another Greek of Macedon.

    On Herodotus

    “Everything we had, and everything we could get, has been yours; and now, to put the finishing touch to your entertainment, we make you a free and generous offer of our mothers and sisters, that you may know without any doubt that we honour you as you deserve, AND THAT YOU MAY TELL YOUR KING, WHO SENT YOU, THAT A GREEK, THE LORD OF MACEDONIA, ENTERTAINED YOU ROYALLY BOTH WITH BED AND BOARD.” (Herodotus, The Histories, Penguin Classics, page 317 (5, 20))

    “I HAPPEN TO KNOW, AND WILL DEMONSTRATE IN A SUBSEQUENT CHAPTER OF THIS HISTORY, THAT THESE DESCENDANTS OF PERDICCAS ARE, AS THEY THEMSELVES CLAIM, OF GREEK NATIONALITY. This was, moreover, recognized by the managers of the Olympic Games, on the occasion when Alexander wished to compete and his Greek competitors tried to exclude him on the ground that foreigners were not allowed to take part. ALEXANDER, HOWEVER, PROVED HIS ARGIVE DESCENT, AND SO WAS ACCEPTED AS A GREEK AND ALLOWED TO ENTER THE FOOT-RACE. He came equal first.” (Herodotus, The Histories, Penguin Classics, page 318 (5, 22))

    “The Athenians at once accompanied the guards back to their post, and Alexander delivered his message. ‘Men of Athens,’ he said, ‘I trust to your honour for what I am about to tell you: keep it a secret from everyone except Pausanias or you will ruin me. I SHOULD NOT BE HERE AT ALL IF I HAD NOT AT HEART THE COMMON WELFARE OF GREECE – I AM MYSELF A GREEK BY DESCENT, AND HAVE NO WISH TO SEE GREECE EXCHANGE HER FREEDOM FOR SLAVERY.” (Herodotus, The Histories, Penguin Classics, page 573 (9, 45))

    “This Alexander was descended, in the seventh generation, from Perdiccas, who won the lordship of the Macedonians in the following way. THREE BROTHERS, GAUANES, AEROPUS, AND PERDICCAS, DESCENDANTS OF TEMENUS, HAD BEEN EXPELLED FROM ARGOS and had taken refuge in Illyria. Thence they crossed into upper Macedonia and went to the town of Lebaea, …..” (Herodotus, The Histories, Penguin Classics, page 549 (8, 137))

    Herodotus demolishes Skopian propaganda. For the record, so does Arrian, and Plutarch, and Curtius Rufus too.


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