Alexander statue leads to controversy

June 22nd, 2011 - 10:57 am ICT by IANS  

Skopje (Macedonia), June 22 (IANS) A 13-metre-high statue of Alexander the Great has been put up in Skopje, capital of Macedonia, leading to Greece saying that Macedonia stole its ancient heritage by claiming the ancient hero as its own.

Macedonia erected the bronze statue Tuesday, Xinhua reported. The statue is on a pedestal 10 metres high.

The statue, cast in Italy, has cost Macedonia nine million euros (around $13 million). It is part of a project called “Skopje 2014″ to give a facelift to the capital.

Its sculptor Valentina Stefanovska said she had been working on the statue for the past three years.

Officially named “Warrior on a horseback”, the statue would become Macedonia’s legacy for generations to come, she said.

Alexander the Great was born in Pella in northern Greece, but his kingdom included a part that is now present day Macedonia.

Macedonia’s southern neighbour Greece has not welcomed the installation. It said Macedonia claims Alexander the Great is its ancient hero, and has accused the country of stealing Greece’s ancient heritage.

Gregory Delavekouras, spokesman of the Greek foreign ministry, said the move undermined the relations between the two countries.

Macedonia and Greece have been locked in a 20-year-long name dispute. Athens says the name Macedonia implies territorial ambitions over Greece’s northern province of the same name.

The European Union also said Macedonia as a candidate country for EU membership should not disrespect its neighbour.

“Macedonia can lose its candidate status if it continues to make moves that Greece perceives as provocation,” EU commissioner for enlargement Stefan Fule said.

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