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'Alexander the Great' Sign Removed From Skopje Airport

Workers dismantle the "Alexander the Great" sign at Macedonia's Skopje airport on February 24.
Workers dismantle the "Alexander the Great" sign at Macedonia's Skopje airport on February 24.

Macedonia has removed an "Alexander the Great" sign from its main airport in another goodwill gesture to Greece, as the two neighbors work to resolve a 27-year-old dispute over the name of the former Yugoslav republic.

The 3-meter-long letters spelling out the name of the famed ruler of the ancient Kingdom of Macedonia, who is also celebrated in Greece, were removed from the Skopje airport terminal on February 24.

The Macedonian government earlier this month decided to rename the airport and the country’s main highway, which was also previously named after Alexander the Great.

The capital's airport was renamed International Airport Skopje and the highway will be known as the Friendship Highway.

Name signs were earlier this week removed from the highway running from Macedonia's border with Greece to the border with Serbia.

Greece objects to the former Yugoslav republic's use of the name Macedonia, which Athens says could imply territorial claims over its own northern region of the same name.

Negotiations between the two neighbors have been inconclusive since 1991, when Macedonia gained independence from the former Yugoslavia.

It was admitted into the United Nations in 1993 under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

Skopje and Athens have recently stepped up efforts to resolve the row that has hampered Macedonia's efforts to join NATO and the EU. Greece is a member of both entities.

Macedonia has said it is ready to add a geographical qualifier to its name to help resolve the dispute. An agreement could include Macedonia adding "Upper," "New," or "North" to its name.

“My wish and ambition, as well as of each of us that are involved in this process, is to reach a solution for the name dispute by the end of March,” Macedonian prime Minister Zoran Zaev told the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) in an interview published on February 23.

"It will not help us if we delay it because there are always antagonistic forces that are against a solution," he added.

With reporting by AP, dpa, and Balkan Insight

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