The Culture Ministry of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has drawn up a shortlist of statues to be purged from the streets of Skopje in a bid to placate tensions with the country’s closest neighbor, Greece.
Monuments to Alexander the Great and Phillip, which cost hundreds of millions of euros to install, are amongst those under consideration for removal.
The monuments were erected by the previous FYROM government as part of their flagship project called Skopje 2014.
Officials working under former nationalist Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski hoped that the faux neo-classical monuments would inspire local pride, boost tourism, and build a strong “Macedonian” identity that borrowed heavily from the historic indignity and heritage of Ancient Macedon, a kingdom that was part of the Ancient Greek world.
FYROM’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who has the final say on the removal of statues, has already hinted that he would rename Skopje’s Alexander the Great Airport in a bid to calm tensions with Athens.
Officials on both sides of the border believe these are steps being taken by Zaev to come to an agreement with Greece over his country’s name. The issue has been plaguing both nations for almost thirty years and has prevented FYROM from joining NATO, the European Union and other international bodies, at the protest of Greece.
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