Macedonia to rename airport in attempt to end feud with Greece

Macedonia makes Greece an offer to end international feud

In an attempt to end an international feud with Greece that has lasted since the fall of communism, the prime minister of Macedonia has announced that Skopje’s airport will be renamed.

Relations between Macedonia and Greece have been complex since the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991. On Sunday, 21 January 90,000 people in Thessaloniki, the capital of the Greek region of Macedonia, took to the streets to protest against the continuing use of the name by the Balkan country.

Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev made the offer at Davos last week – Giovanni Vale / Shutterstock Macedonia Greece Skopje airport feud
Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev made the offer at Davos last week – Giovanni Vale / Shutterstock

At the Davos economic summit last week, Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev, along with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras, announced that Alexander the Great Airport in Skopje will be renamed, in response to continuing claims that Macedonia has been appropriating symbols and figures that are considered historically Greek.

Macedonia’s latest attempt to build bridges comes after Zaev’s previous announcement concerning the renaming of the Alexander the Great Highway, which ends at the Greek border. It will now be known as the Highway of Friendship.

There is as yet no word on what the new name of the airport will be, but this move goes some way to satisfying Greece, which has proved one of Macedonia’s main obstacles to global recognition; Athens used its vote to block Macedonia’s entrance to Nato and the European Union, while last year senior US Republican Dana Rohrabacher provoked a furious response from Skopje when he stated that Macedonia was “not a country”.

Yesterday, Radio Free Europe reported that Tsipras was prepared to accept a “composite name” that includes the word Macedonia for the Balkan state. The two nations hope that this will bring the 27-year long feud to a close.