The latest on the FYROM vs. Greece front (or is it the Greece vs. FYROM? Well, the latest scuffle seems to be the former): A 72-foot high bronze statue of Alexander the Great and Bucephalus is now in production in Florence...to be set up in the center of Skopje. The comment from the EU is nice and terse: the project is "not helpful."
Greece worries that FYROM has designs on the province of Macedonia and is increasingly suspicious of its propensity for renaming airports and highways after Alexander. The statue is the latest insult, provoking the Greek Foreign Ministry to ridicule it as "inversely proportional to seriousness and historical truth."
Underlining their tie to Alexander, Greeks voting by Internet last month elected Alexander as the greatest Greek of all. The yearlong poll organized by TV station Skai gave the conqueror 127,011 of the 700,000 votes cast. Runner-up with 103,661 votes was George Papanicolaou, who invented the pap smear test for cervical cancer.
Thessaloniki, capital of Greece's province of Macedonia, has long had a statue of Alexander, and in January the Greek and Iraqi governments agreed to put up a statue of the conqueror near the port city of Mosul, at the battlefield where he crushed the Persian army in 331 B.C.
Meanwhile, Macedonia's prime minister, 38-year-old Nikola Gruevski, is pushing ahead with his plans to honor Alexander astride his horse, Bucephalus. The 22-meter- (72-foot-) high statue in bronze is being molded in Florence and will go up in 2010. Along with a church and another dozen statues of historical figures, the bill will total euro10 million ($14 million), in a country where monthly wages average $440 and unemployment runs at 35 percent.
Many Macedonians fear the project will stoke ethnic tension. Some ethnic Albanians are saying any new church in the square should be matched by a mosque.
Meanwhile, on the Iraq (Mosul) connection (!!), PR at Classics-L comments:
For the Sunni-dominated (in a Kurdish area) city of Mosul to erect a statue to Alexander to commemorate his victory over the Persians at Gaugamela has some frightening ethnic implications, given the historical connections between Persian culture and Iraq's Shi'ite populations. We'll leave unspoken the whole idea of celebrating the liberation of Nineveh from a foreign conqueror by a foreign conqueror and what that may imply about what the current Mosul government would like the US military to do.