As if the Greeks don’t have enough to worry about.
A cultural “war” has erupted between Greece and its neighbor Macedonia over plans to construct a giant bronze statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje, the Macedonian capital.
The 72-foot statue, to be called Warrior on a Horse,” will be assembled this week.
While critics within Macedonia itself are criticizing the project as a waste of government funds (it is estimated to cost $7.6-million in a country with 30 percent unemployment), in Greece there is outrage over because Athens claims the right to Alexander’s heritage.
The statue itself is not being called “Alexander” (although the face looks identical to traditional depictions) -- however, Skopje officials have given the name of the fabled warrior to its airport and to a highway that runs towards Greece.
The confusion arises because there are two Macedonias – one is the independent Republic of Macedonia (which was carved out from the former Yugoslavia); and there is Macedonia province, which comprises much of Greece proper.
Athens believes the naming of the country as “Macedonia” suggests it has territorial designs on its own Macedonia province.
But this conflict has wider implications – The Macedonia Republic’s entry into the European Union and NATO has been stalled by simmering tensions with Greece.
Greece’s foreign affairs spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras told reporters that the Skopje statue is directly geared towards the appropriation of Greek history with the aim of stirring up nationalism and conflict.
He added that such provocative and reprehensible politics could have repercussions for the European-Atlantic outlook which cannot be ignored.”
Alexander the Greet was born in Pella, a city in the modern-day Macedonian province within Greece. He conquered much of the known world before dying in 323 BC at the age of 32.