North Macedonia re-names stadium to honour Greek deal

Skopje (Republic of North Macedonia) (AFP) –


North Macedonia has renamed its football stadium, formerly known as Philip II arena after the father of Alexander the Great, to honour its accord with Greece, state media reported Tuesday.

The gesture comes after the two countries struck a landmark deal to end their decades-long row over the name Macedonia and its heritage, including the ancient history of Philip and Alexander's fourth century BC kingdom of Macedon.

Under the accord, which took effect earlier this year, Skopje agreed to add "North" to the country's official name to distinguish it from a bordering Greek province also called Macedonia.

On Tuesday, Skopje said it would also rename the capital's stadium, where the national football team plays, after a popular singer who died in 2007 at the age of 26, according to state-run MIA news agency.

"We have decided to rename the Philip II Stadium as the Tose Proseki National Arena to honour a personality who left a deep mark on Macedonian and regional history," Prime Minister Zoran Zaev was quoted as saying.

The move follows two similar gestures before the deal was finalised, when Skopje dropped Alexander the Great from the name of an airport and a highway.

The neighbours' decades-long dispute was fuelled in part by Greek fears that Skopje was claiming hero figures Alexander the Great and Phillip II as their own.

A previous nationalist government in Skopje stoked the flames several years ago when it erected giant statues to Alexander and his father Philip in the capital, and commissioned books that blurred the Greek identity of ancient Macedonians.

Under the name accord, North Macedonia is required to review monuments that draw from Hellenic history.

This month, Zaev told AFP that metal plaques will be laid before some sites to "clarify their history"