A bid by the authorities in North Macedonia to relabel public statues of historic figures was undermined on Friday by vandals who removed three plaques from statues in Skopje.
The statues targeted by the vandals depict ancient Greek warrior king Alexander the Great and the accompanying plaques explain that they belong to ancient Greek history. “In honor of Alexander the Great, a historic figure belonging to the ancient Hellenic history and civilization and to the world cultural and historic heritage,” read one of the three plaques, which was recovered later in the day.
Greece’s former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, who signed the deal last year with North Macedonia that ended a longstanding bilateral dispute over the Balkan country’s name, said the inscription on the plaque vindicated his decision to champion the contentious agreement.
“Today a plaque went up in Skopje under the statue of Alexander the Great saying that he was a Greek hero who belongs to the history of the ancient Greeks,” Kotzias wrote on Twitter. “This is yet another act of friendship between peoples and a blow against irredentism,” he wrote. “It is an answer to all those who cursed me.”
Kotzias, who was dismissed from the cabinet of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras following a clash with the latter’s coalition partner Panos Kammenos, had come under vehement criticism for the so-called Prespes deal, with many Greeks accusing him of betraying the country’s interests.