Greece

‘Alexander the Great’ pulled from Macedonia airport name in goodwill gesture to Greece

Macedonia and Greece are working to resolve a 25-year dispute over the Macedonia name

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 February, 2018, 2:35pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 February, 2018, 2:35pm

Macedonia has begun the process of changing the name of its airport honouring the ancient warrior king Alexander the Great as a goodwill gesture to Greece.

Turkish consortium TAV, which operates Skopje Alexander the Great Airport, started removing the 3-metre-long (9.8 feet) letters spelling out the name from the terminal Saturday.

The airport’s new name will be Skopje International Airport. It was called Skopje Airport before Macedonia’s previous government named it for Alexander in 2006.

Macedonia and Greece are working to resolve a 25-year dispute over the Macedonia name.

Greece argues that Macedonia’s use of it when it gained independence in 1991 implies territorial claims to its Macedonia province, where Alexander was born.

The current government also plans to change the name of a highway bearing Alexander’s name to Prijatelstvo, which is Macedonian for friendship.

Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Macedonia was making headway in its bid to join the European Union, as she praised recent reforms by Skopje and the prospect of settling its chronic name dispute with Greece.

Macedonia is among six Western Balkan nations seeking membership.

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She homed in on progress in a dispute with Greece over Macedonia’s name which has thwarted Skopje’s ambitions to join Nato and the EU. The two have agreed to step up talks this year to try to resolve the row before a Nato summit in the summer.

Talks between the two states have been inconclusive since 1991, when Macedonia withdrew from former Yugoslavia.

It was admitted into the United Nations in 1993 under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

But Skopje said earlier this month it was ready to add a geographical qualifier to its name to help resolve the dispute.

Additional reporting by Reuters