EC reins in Skopje over monument
Authorities in Skopje erected a huge bronze statue of Alexander the Great in the city center yesterday, a move certain to aggravate a longrunning dispute with Athens over the official name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia that has barred the tiny Balkan country from joining the EU and NATO.
The 11-meter-high statue, which weighs around 40 tons, was raised onto a 10-meter-high pedestal in the heart of Skopje as crowds cheered.
On Monday night, commenting on news about preparations to raise the statue of the ancient Greek warrior in Skopje, Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis suggested that authorities in FYROM “concentrate on building bridges rather than erecting walls and statues.” Lambrinidis, who is visiting Luxembourg for a summit of peers from the EU and the Balkans, told his FYROM counterpart, Antonio Milososki, that “instead of trying to rewrite history we should try to write the future.”
European Union Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule also reacted to the plans late on Monday, warning FYROM that taking action considered by Greece as “provocative” could harm its ambitions to join the bloc. “Seriously, if you have a neighbor... and there is an issue between the two of you, whatever the nature of that issue is, if you are trying sincerely to solve it, I guess you would avoid doing anything that your neighbor might call a provocation,” the Czech commissioner said. “This is simple logic.”
Greece objects to FYROM using the word Macedonia in its name without a geographical qualifier – as the country borders with Greece’s northern province of Macedonia – and has blocked Skopje’s accession to NATO and the EU until the rows are resolved.