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Statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje Statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje  (AFP or licensors)

Vandals attack North Macedonia statues amid debate over history

North Macedonia's government faces an uphill battle in efforts to re-label public statues of historical figures, as vandals opposing the move have already removed several plaques.

By Stefan J. Bos 

Critics say North Macedonia's government is re-writing history. That's why vandals have removed plaques installed this week on three statues in the capital, Skopje.

The plaques placed near statues of ancient Greek warrior-king Alexander the Great and his family, clarified that they belong to ancient Greek history.

One of the plaques removed was reportedly retrieved later Friday, and no arrests were made.

Greece has accused its neighbor of trying to appropriate ancient Greek culture and of harboring territorial claims on northern Greece.

Agreement with Greece

North Macedonia denied these claims. 

Under a breakthrough deal to normalize relations after nearly 30 years, the country was renamed North Macedonia this year. In return, Greece agreed to back its bid to become a member of the NATO military alliance and the European Union.

About a dozen statues all over North Macedonia are getting new labels, including a huge equestrian one in central Skopje of Alexander, who lived in the 4th century B.C.

Local authorities have also been ordered to remove copies of an ancient symbol known as the Sun of Vergina from all public buildings and areas.

The 16-rayed sun is associated with Alexander's family found in a royal tomb in northern Greece. From 1992-1995, it was put on the flag of then-Macedonia.

Broader changes

These aren't the only objects facing changes. Earlier, workers in North Macedonia pasted labels featuring the words Republic of North Macedonia on a sign on the border with Greece.

The move was the first step in the formal change of the country's name in line with an agreement with Greece.

18 August 2019, 16:16