Macedonia Showered with Ancient Heroes Statues, Criticism
Two new statues of Philip II of Macedon were opened Tuesday, one in Skopje and one in Bitola, as the Balkan country's government continues its ambitious renovation plan.
Even though Philip II was "outshone" by his son Alexander the Great, whose gigantic monument was opened later the same day, people flocked to see the father's new statues, too.
On Tuesday, the controversial 13-meter high statue depicting Alexander the Great on horseback was officially opened in Skopje, adding fuel to the conflict with Greece, which also claims inheritance of the historical figure.
On Monday, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said that if Macedonia continues to take actions perceived by Greece as "provocations" and fails to make faster progress in its reforms, the country could lose its EU candidate status.
Meanwhile, Facebook users have started a peculiar initiative for the renaming of Skopje and Bitolia as Alexandria and Heraklea respectively in order to further emphasize what Macedonians perceive as their "ancient" history.
Since becoming an independent state in 1991, the ex-Yugoslav republic of Macedonia has had a number of protracted historical disputes with neighboring Bulgaria and Greece, in particular about the Macedonian or non-Macedonian nationality of a number of historical figures. Among them are Alexander the Great and Tsar Samuil (997-1014), whom Bulgarians recognize as one of their great Medieval rulers.
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