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News 15 Mar 13

Greek WWI Cemetery Vandalised in Macedonia

Athens has protested to Skopje about a recent attack which damaged graves at a Greek military cemetery in the south-eastern Macedonian town of Valandovo.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Greek war cemetery in Valandovo

The Greek foreign ministry expressed anger after the World War I cemetery was severely vandalised by unknown attackers.

“These incidents confirm yet again the risks and consequences of nationalism and populism, which is being cultivated in FYROM to the point where the dead are vulgarly insulted and history is disrespected,” Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said in a diplomatic note to the Macedonian foreign ministry on Thursday.

According to local media, the incident happened earlier this week. Greek soldiers’ tombstones were damaged and crosses were completely demolished.

The Macedonian authorities have condemned the attack and vowed to find and punish the perpetrators.

The incident comes amid long-standing bad relations between the two countries, fuelled by strong Greek objections to Macedonia’s name.

Greece insists that the name implies territorial claims to its own northern province, also called Macedonia.

Since 2008, Greece has been blocking Macedonia from joining NATO over the unresolved name dispute.

The blockade has also meant that Macedonia hasn’t yet been offered a date for EU membership talks.

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