Mannheim, – The head of a German museum which is set to show an exhibition about Alexander the Great weighed into a dispute between Skopje and Athens on Friday, saying the ancient leader had been predominantly Greek.
The modern state of Macedonia, where the main language is a Slavic one, claims the heritage of ancient Macedonia.
‘Alexander was predominantly Greek and definitely not an ancestor of contemporary Slavic Macedonians,’ said Alfried Wieczorek, head of the Reiss-Engelhorn Museums in the southern German city of Mannheim.
The exhibition devoted to the ancient general and ruler, who lived from 356 to 323 BC, opens on Saturday and runs till February 21.
For two decades, Athens has been objecting to its northern neighbour calling itself Macedonia. Skopje has named its airport after Alexander and insists on having Alexander’s ‘star of Vergina’ symbol on its coat of arms.
In an interview with the German Press Agency dpa, Wieczorek said, ‘The latest research shows very clearly yet again that the Macedonians in the days of Alexander were closely related to the contemporary Greeks.’
He added, ‘In antiquity, Greeks and Macedonians could interact because they spoke the same language.’
Athens has been insisting that the name Macedonia can only been applied to a province in its own north.
The country of Macedonia became independent in 1991 when Yugoslavia split up. The name issue has held up efforts to bring the new country into NATO and into formal assocation with the European Union.
The museum director referred to findings that its population of 2 million, one quarter of them Albanian speakers and three quarters Slavic speakers, are descended from people who immigrated in the 6th century of the modern era, long after Alexander’s death
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