The European Union has warned the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) that taking actions considered by Greece as «provocations» could damage its ambitions of becoming a member of the bloc.
The EU warning, voiced by Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule late on Monday, came a few days after FYROM completed the construction of a 22-meter-high (72-foot-high) bronze statue of Alexander the Great in the heart of the capital Skopje.
Speaking on A1 television channel in Skopje, the Czech commissioner slammed the decision by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s government to erect the giant monument depicting the ancient hero — a move Athens has criticized as a «usurpation» of its history.
“Seriously, if you have a neighbor, and I’m not talking about two states now, and there is an issue between the two of you, whatever the nature of that issue is, and you are trying sincerely to solve it, I guess you would avoid doing anything that your neighbor might call a provocation,» Fule said. «This is simple logic.”
The two neighboring states remain locked in a 20-year dispute over the former Yugoslav country’s right to call itself «Macedonia.» Greece objects to FYROM using the word Macedonia in its name without a geographical qualifier as the country borders with a Greek province called Macedonia.
Greece has blocked it northern neighbor’s accession into NATO and the EU because it regards the use of the term as a claim on Greek history and antique heritage.
“I would expect the government in Skopje to avoid doing things which would be described by the other side as provocations,» Fule said.