This week, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) erected a 24-meter-high bronze equestrian statue of Alexander the Great in the central square of Skopje -- the capital of FYROM -- leading Greece to accuse FYROM of trying to steal Greece's ancient heritage by claiming the ancient world conqueror as its own.
The statue was made in Italy and cost FYROM -- one of the poorest nations in Europe -- about $13 million.
Alexander the Great was born in the town of Pella in the section of northern Greece that at that time was called -- and is still called today -- Macedonia. FYROM -- which also calls itself Macedonia for short -- became an independent nation in 1991 with the breakup of Yugoslavia. It borders the northern Greek territory of Macedonia, so Greece has been emphatic that FYROM must change its name.
Greece and FYROM have been trying for 20 years to reach a compromise in agreeing to a new name for FYROM, but this dilemma has still not been resolved.
Greece is adamant about changing FYROM's name, because it believes that FYROM has territorial ambitions over Greece's neighboring northern province of Macedonia.
Greece has retaliated against FYROM for failing to change its name by successfully blocking FYROM's attempts to join both NATO and the European Union (EU).
In fact, the EU recently warned Macedonia that -- as a candidate country for EU membership -- it should not disrespect its neighbor. "Macedonia can lose its candidate status if it continues to make moves that Greece perceives as provocation," EU commissioner for enlargement Stefan Fule said.
Indeed, FYROM has been arrogant, provocative, and in a state of historical denial by displaying a huge statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje.
Nonetheless, this statue -- or even a plethora of additional statues throughout FYROM -- will never be able to change the well-documented historical fact that Alexander the Great was born in the northern Greece territory of Macedonia.