Intensifying tension with Greece, the Vice President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s (FYROM) Parliament, Antonio Milososki, published a picture of himself and members of a group of climbers from Greece’s neighboring country holding a flag bearing the Vergina Sun after climbing Mount Olympus.
Milososki, a former foreign minister for a FYROM government which has been waged in a battle with Greece for more than two decades over what his country’s internationally-accepted name should be, published the picture taken on Olympus’s highest peak – Mytikas – on his Twitter account on Sept. 21.
FYROM used the Vergina Sun, a symbol discovered at the tomb of Philip II at the archaeological site of Aigai (modern day Vergina in northern Greece), on its national flag between 1991 and 1995 but agreed under the terms of a 1995 interim accord with Greece to stop doing so.
“Upon entry into force of this Interim Accord, the Party of the Second Part shall cease to use in any way the symbol in all its forms displayed on its national flag prior to such entry into force,” states Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the agreement.
Milososki told FYROM newspaper Vest that the flag he displayed was an “historic Macedonian symbol” although it was a hostile act in Greece as the countries remain embattled in a fierce name dispute that has led Greece to veto any hopes FYROM has had so far of getting into the European Union or NATO.
“I always carried the flag with the 16-pointed Macedonian sun with me,” said the politician. “Another member of the climbing group had the state flag with them. So we raised both flags at the peak of Mount Olympus and we took photographs with great satisfaction.”
The Greek government described Milososki’s actions as a “provocation.” The Vergina Star was designated a Greek national symbol by the country’s Parliament in 1993 to solidify Greece’s assertion that Macedonia is Greek.
“We thank Mr. Milososki for visiting our country so he could be photographed within Greece, with a Greek national symbol,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras. FYROM claims the northern Greek territories, including the Greek province of Macedonia, belong to FYROM, which has long coveted Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city and a key port.
“We would not encourage him to do the same as this would result in yet another breach of the Interim Accord and the Memorandum on Practical Measures. Provocations may justify Greek positions against all forms of irredentism but they do not help anyone, certainly not FYROM and its people,” Koutras added.
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