29 December, 2006
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis reacted strongly on Thursday to the decision taken earlier in the day by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) cabinet to accept a proposal by the public management corporation for the country's two airports to rename Skopje's "Petrovec" airport to "Alexander the Great" and Ohrid's airport to "Apostle Paul."
"Alexander the Great is a leading personality of worldwide range. Spreading Greek civilization to all over the known world at the time, the Greek military leader established himself in history," she said.
"With its statement today, Skopje, once again, is seeking false support from the past," she noted, adding that 2,300 years later, history can neither change nor be falsified.
"This attitude by Skopje is not compatible with obligations of good neighborliness that emanate from the Interim Agreement and from commitments towards the European Union, nor does it serve their Euro-Atlantic expectations," the foreign minister said.
"Greece has made its positions known to partners and allies, positions that express all of the political forces of the country," Bakoyannis pointed out.
It is reminded that earlier FYROM's cabinet ratified the proposal made by the public management corporation for the two airports to rename them during its session.
FYROM Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki said that "the decision to rename the airport of Skopje does not conceal cunning designs and does not constitute an effort to monopolize the name of a worldwide historic personality which is honored in many countries, such as in Greece, FYROM, Bulgaria, India and elsewhere."
Earlier statements: Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday urged the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to "avoid actions that might be misunderstood", in response to reports that authorities in Skopje had proposed renaming the city's "Petrovec" airport to "Alexander of Macedon".
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, she said that the foreign ministry had received no official notification or information regarding the reports.
She also pointed out that an interim agreement between the two countries regarding the dispute of the use of the name 'Macedonia' by FYROM was still in force.
According to a report by the ANA-MPA correspondent in Skopje, the board of directors of the state-run company managing the two FYROM airports in Skopje and Ochrid has prepared a proposal for renaming both, the first after Alexander the Great and the second after the Apostle Paul.
The proposal had been forwarded to the FYROM government to reach a decision.
It was strongly criticized on Thursday by the mayor and prefect of Thessaloniki, capital of the northern Greek province of Macedonia.
Greece objects to FYROM's use of the name 'Macedonia' as historically unsound and opening the way for future expansionist designs against the northern Greek province of the same name. Greeks also object to the claims of FYROM Slavs to be descended from Alexander the Great - the famous Macedonian general of antiquity who was born in the Greek province of Macedonia - seeing this as an attempt to 'usurp' a historical figure that is inalienably Greek.
Source: Athens News Agency