January 25, 2007
Alexander The Great Starts International Naming Dispute
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has renamed its international airport after Alexander the Great, much to the consternation of their Greek neighbors who see the famous conqueror as “the epitome of classical Greek heroism”.
The renaming is part of a longer dispute between the Macedonians and the Greeks, who already have a province of Macedonia. The Greeks for years have pushed the EU to recognize their neighbor not as Macedonia but as The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), much to the irritation of Macedonians who want their country to be referred to, simply, as the Republic of Macedonia.
The Greeks are standing firm leading to some awkward interchanges between the two countries. The situation has become so intense that last Saturday a UN Envoy was sent in to help resolve the naming dispute.
This recent move on the part of the FYROM to associate the famous Macedonian (whom the Greeks see as their favorite son) with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, has led to some furious online interchanges, with Greek supporters saying the Macedonians are “seeking false support from the past” and FYROM supporters claiming Alexander was “born and raised” in their Macedonia.
Others posit that the FYROM is a Slavic, not Greek country, that simply has no claim to “true” Macedonian history - or its ancient heroes.
I am reluctant to offer an opinion here other than that of a professional naming consultant, but it does seem that The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is a rather unwieldy name and something should be done.
As far at Alexander the Great’s airport is concerned, well, as some bloggers have noted, there are street names and place names all around the world named after historical figures from other countries and, additionally, Alexander’s empire did stretch all the way to India.
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