EC reins in Skopje over mon­u­ment

Kathimerini English - - NEWS -

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.

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