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Macedonia: Call To Rename Centre Of Skopje After Alexander

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By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Todor Petrov, head of a pan-Macedonian non-profit organization, the World Macedonian Congress, has called on the authorities to rename the Skopje municipality now called Centar after the Ancient warrior king.

In the online magazine Macedonian Nation at the weekend, Petrov said it was only logical for the municipality to be renamed in this way as it now contains a giant equestrian statue of Alexander and will soon get an equally large statue of his father, Philip of Macedonia.

Although not officially linked to the ruling centre-right VMRO DPMNE party, his NGO is seen as close to the government.

Officials in Centar have not said whether they will support or veto the idea. “So far we have not considered such a renaming. We only heard about it from the media. When the proposal officially arrives we will consider it”, the municipal spokesperson, Jovica Ackovski told Balkan insight.

Macedonia’s opposition Social Democrats said they were against renaming Centar, saying it would only cause additional problems with Greece.

Relations between Macedonia and Greece are strained owing to the two-decades-long row over Macedonia’s name. Citing the unresolved issue, Greece has blocked Macedonia’s progress towards both EU and NATO membership.

Greece insists that use of the term “Macedonia” by its neighbour implies a territorial claim to its own northern province of the same name.

The origin of Alexander the Great is also part of the dispute, as the two neighbouring nations have different views on ancient history. The warrior king is one of many historic figures and symbols claimed by both states.

Last summer Greek officials strongly condemned Macedonia’s move to erect a giant statue of Alexander in the heart of the capital as “provocative” and “retrograde”.

It did not help matters much that Macedonia officially refers to the statue as an “equestrian warrior”, to avoid causing extra friction.

Since Nikola Gruevski took power in 2006, Macedonia has renamed its main airport in Skopje after Alexander the Great while the football stadium in the capital was renamed after Philip.

The internet news portal SKY MK, seen as close to the opposition, says the government is mulling renaming several other towns and municipalities in the same style if the country again fails to join NATO, due to a Greek blockade. The next NATO summit takes place in May in Chicago.

The government spokesperson, Martin Martinovski rebuffed these allegations for Balkan Insight insisting that “municipal names have nothing to do with the country’s NATO bid”.

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Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

18 thoughts on “Macedonia: Call To Rename Centre Of Skopje After Alexander

  • January 25, 2012 at 8:27 am
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    What gives FYROM the right to steal another country’s culture, name and history. FYROM has no historical evidence to support their ridiculous claims. FYROM are Slav-Bulgarians and speak Bulgarian. The Ancient Macedonians claimed to be Greek and spoke Greek. Slavs arrived into Europe 1000 years after Alexander the Great… What FYROM is doing is called Identity and Cultural theft!

    Reply
  • January 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm
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    Wow, this country is being Helenized from top to bottom. I could only imagine how citizens in FYROM and N. Korea will feel when they wake up one day, after their wierd nationalist regimes have worn out their welcome, and discover just how insane their existence has been.

    Reply
  • January 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm
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    Gruevski’s blackmailing and renaming only proves Greece was right all along to object to FYROM’s name.

    Reply
  • January 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm
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    Alexander the Great was a Macedonian. Aristotle an Athenian. Leonidas a Spartan. But they all had at least one thing in common: they were Greek. I hope FYROM continues to build great monuments in honour of their neighbour Greece. Thank you for your adoration. Long live Alexander of Macedon!

    Reply
    • January 25, 2012 at 9:19 pm
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      Your absolutly right! These Europeans are building a monument to Alexander the Great. A Macedonian! A European. You say Greek, I say whatever. Long live his memory of expanding the universlal principle of Democracy and Feedom. What is Greece waiting for. Why has the Macedonian aspect of Greek history been forgotten. These monuments should be erected in all areas of Ancient Macedonia, from the Danube to the Agean Sea. Lets GO Greece, get behind this great undertaking. The only place in Greece with a monument of Alexander the Great is on the border with Macedonia facing it. How dumb is that. Did you know that Alexander the Great had Celtic warriors in his army. Thats right, Celts..
      There is such rich history in the Balkans. To bad its held captive by Greeks nationlist thugs like yourself. I bet you have no genetic link to any Great Greek of antiquity. Not bright enough

      Reply
      • January 26, 2012 at 1:56 am
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        Zoran – here are the opinions from 400 accredited historians from world famous universities. It seems they don’t agree with the state propaganda from Fyrom. The write:

        “The answers are clear: Alexander the Great was Greek, not Slavic, and Slavs and their language were nowhere near Alexander or his homeland until 1000 years later. This brings us back to the geographic area known in antiquity as Paionia. Why would the people who live there now call themselves Macedonians and their land Macedonia? Why would they abduct a completely Greek figure and make him their national hero?”

        “the government in Skopje to understand that it cannot build a national identity at the expense of historic truth. Our common international society cannot survive when history is ignored, much less when history is fabricated.”

        http://www.macedonia-evidence.org

        Reply
  • January 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm
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    To all the Greeks I never loved before:
    Yes, Alexander of Macedon was a Macedonian King who conquered the so-called Greek city-states. He did not unite them. The Persian campaign had nothing to do with the Greeks as is evident with (a) his dismissal of the Greek allied troops. (The 7,000 Greeks were not more numerous than the Paeonian, Illyrian or Treballian contingents), (b) the burning of his fleet which was mainly manned by Greeks, (c) Alexander’s unwillingness to march on Egypt without securing the coast of Levant. He feared Greek collusion with the Persians, (d) by his garrisoning all major cities in Greece and (d) by leaving behind in Macedonia with Antipater more than 15,000 soldiers to watch Greece.
    These are cold facts that run contrary to anything you have to say (read lie) about Alexander. Greeks never claimed Macedonia as their territory. The northern boundary line rested with Olympus and the river Paeneus. Check the findings of your own Greek biographers of antiquity or with your 19 cent. historians. Stop propagating falsehood. Moder authors know the facts: ” Ancient Macedonians linguistically, culturally and ethnically were not Greeks” ( Waldemar Heckel, the editor of Ancient History Bulletin)

    Reply
  • January 26, 2012 at 5:19 pm
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    Greece=Bankrupt loser nation. Just my humble opinion!

    Reply
  • January 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm
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    I hope we rename all our cities and towns after Alexander, and maybe a couple after Philip. I don’t like any of our town’s original names. And the staue of Alexander is too short…shame on us. It has to be at least 1000 meters.

    Reply
  • January 26, 2012 at 8:42 pm
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    Ok can we think of a better name for the city center. How about naming it after someone that has added value to the republic like Kiro Gligorov.. It’s time to forget the past and build a future.

    Reply
  • January 27, 2012 at 1:09 am
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    I agree with Igor. Rename Centar to Kiro Gligorov Square. He gained freedom for the Republic of Macedonia without bloodshed and established a democracy. Renaming everything to Alexander this and Alexander that is so tackie and shows our lack of confidence in the totality of our own ethnic and cultural inheritance. Macedonia has many poets as well that we can rename this region after. Lets bring some intellectualism to this debate.

    Reply
  • January 27, 2012 at 5:18 am
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    A few facts about Macedonian history that i would like the readers to take into consideration.

    Macedonia: 10,000 years of Macedonian history, culture and heritage – cradle of European and world civilization!

    1. Britannica: “Macedonia…Old European civilization flourished there between 7000 and 3500 BC.”

    2. Historian P. Green: “Macedonia was the first large territorial state with an effective centralized political, military and administrative structure to come into being on the continent of Europe.”

    3. Polybius says northern border of (ancient) Macedonia was the Danube!

    Polybius: “…The rule of the Macedonians in Europe extended…from the lands bordering the Adriatic to the Danube….” Book I (Page 42 of Penguin Classics Edition).

    4. A Greek publication “Macedonia” (General Editor M.B. Sakellariou, Ekdotike Athenon S.A., Athens 1983. Page 118) presents a map of Ancient Macedonia incorporating today’s ethnographical borders, including the modern capital of the Republic of Macedonia, Skopje.

    5. Ancient Historian Justin: “…..This being reported to Alexander, he gave orders that a thousand ships of war should be raised among his allies, with which he might carry on war in the west; and he intended to make an expedition, with a powerful force, to level Athens with the ground. The Athenians, in consequence, collecting an army of thirty thousand men and two hundred ships, went to war with Antipater…” [Justin Book XIII, 13.5.1-8]

    6. “…In India, Arabia, Russia, Malaya, Spain, Armenia, Syria, Ethiopia, Israel, the Balkans, even in Iceland and Ireland, tales of Alexander were told and retold down the millennia…” Alexander the Great: A Life in Legend [Peter Jones, Literary Review, March 2008]

    7. Historian E. Borza: “It is clear that over a five-century span of writing in two languages representing a variety of historiographical and philosophical positions the ancient writers regarded the Greeks and Macedonians as two separate and distinct peoples…”

    8. Historian NGL Hammond: “Macedonians considered themselves to be, and were treated by Alexander the Great as being, separate from the Greeks. They were proud to be so.”

    9. Greek Historian M.B. Sakellariou: “Isokrates [father of “Hellenism”] places Macedonia outside the boundaries of Greece and describes the Macedonians as ‘an unrelated race’…”

    10. Historian E. Badian: “As regards the Macedonian nation as a whole, (there was as we can see) no division. They were regarded as clearly barbarian, despite the various myths.”

    Reply
    • January 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm
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      @Aleksandar Filipovski Nice try. Lets see what Borza REALLY has written and how you former Bulgrians from Fyrom are building your propaganda:

      “Modern Slavs, both Bulgarians and Macedonians, cannot establish a link with antiquity, as the Slavs entered the Balkans centuries after the demise of the ancient Macedonian kingdom. Only the most radical Slavic factions—mostly émigrés in the United States, Canada, and Australia—even attempt to establish a connection to antiquity […] The twentieth-century development of a Macedonian ethnicity, and its recent evolution into independent statehood following the collapse of the Yugoslav state in 1991, has followed a rocky road. In order to survive the vicissitudes of Balkan history and politics, the Macedonians, who have had no history, need one. ”

      Eugene N. Borza, “Macedonia Redux”, in “The Eye Expanded: life and the arts in Greco-Roman Antiquity”, ed. Frances B Tichener & Richard F. Moorton, University of California Press, 1999

      Lets repeat “who have had no history, need one. ”

      Unbelivable how you twist and mis quote historians.

      “They may have had Greek origins: Whatever process produced the Greek-speakers (of that is how one defines “Greek”) who lived south of Olympus may have also produced the Makedones who wandered out of the western mountains to establish a home and a kingdom in Pieria. ”

      Eugene N. Borza, “In The Shadow of Olympus”, pp. 277-278, Princeton University Press

      Reply
  • January 27, 2012 at 6:39 am
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    To: Aleksandar Filipovski

    Maybe you should go and see where the Ancient State of Macedon actually is, it’s nowhere near Skopje!

    Reply
  • January 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm
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    @Aleksandar Filipovski Lets debunk more the propaganda you wrote above:

    “It is certain that the Kings considered themselves to be of Greek descent from Heracles son of Zeus. “Macedonian” was a strong dialect of very early Greek which was not intelligible to contemporary Greeks. ”

    Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond, “A History of Greece to 323 BC”, Cambridge University, 1986 (p 516)

    ” Philip was both a Greek and a Macedonian, even as Demosthenes was a Greek and an Athenian…The Macedonians over whom Philip was to rule were an outlying family member of the Greek-speaking peoples. ”

    Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond, “Philip of Macedon” Duckworth Publishing, February 1998

    “First, the matter of the Hellenic origins of the Macedonians: Nicholas Hammond’s general conclusion (though not the details of his arguments) that the origin of the Macedonians lies in the pool of proto-Greek speakers who migrated out of the Pindus mountains during the Iron Age, is acceptable.”

    Eugene N. Borza, “Makedonika”, Regina Books, Claremont CA

    What is not part of the discussion is how much propaganda and harassment are the native Macedonians(Greeks from the ancient Macedonian province) supose to take? Are they just supossed to surendor to the endless propaganda from people that not long time ago called themself Bulgarians and that want their culture and history!!!

    Reply
  • January 27, 2012 at 4:59 pm
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    The article says,
    “Greece insists that use of the term “Macedonia” by its neighbour implies a territorial claim to its own northern province of the same name.’

    A good argument to refuting this illogic is the fact that Mexico has no aspirations to territorial claims to the bordering state of New Mexico, which is part of the USA.

    The Macedonians should use this argument and look on the globe for similar instances in which multiple use of the same name is no cause for strife in other countries

    Reply
  • January 27, 2012 at 10:41 pm
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    We can’t name the sqaure after Kiro Gligorov. He said we were slavs with no connection to Alexander. Naming the square where Alexanders statue is would be silly.

    Reply

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