Macedonia: what’s in a name? A major controversy!

Macedonia, Alexander the Great
The erection of a giant statue of Alexander the Great in the Macedonian capital of Skopje is the latest round in an ongoing controversy with neighboring Greece.

The statue, erected on Tuesday as part of an ambitious urban development plan called Skopje 2014, drew criticism from some Greek politicians and nervous mutterings from European diplomats. They say it’s deliberate provocation because Greece objects to the name Macedonia. Using this name, some say, implies a claim over the Greek province of Macedonia, where Alexander the Great was actually born. Of course neither country existed at the time, the land being divided up into a patchwork of ancient city-states. When history is used as a propaganda tool, historic accuracy goes out the window.

Macedonia, officially the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, broke off from Yugoslavia in 1991 and has been in a row with Greece about its name ever since. This isn’t some minor squabbling. Greece successfully blocked Macedonia’s entry into NATO and is stonewalling the country’s attempts to join the European Union. With Macedonia being one of the poorest countries in Europe, this argument over a name is costing them a lot.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

A dozen lucky people are going to Afghanistan!

Bored with the usual travel fare? Get in touch with Poland-based Logos Travel, and you could find yourself in Afghanistan for two weeks. All 12 spots have been purchased – at prices of up to $3,700 each. Poland’s Foreign Ministry doesn’t think this is a bright idea, though, and issued a travel warning … as if one were necessary.

In case you didn’t know, people are fighting over there. With guns and bombs and grenades and everything else they can find. In fact, a shipment of cigars for U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan was delayed because of the intensity of the fighting.

Currently, 1,600 Polish troops are among the NATO forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

According to Marek Sliwka, owner of Logos Travel, security measures are being taken, including armed guards. The trip starts on May 2, but it could be scrapped if the fighting becomes too intense. Stops include Kabul, Herat, and the site of the two giant Buddha statues that were destroyed at the turn of the century. The Tora Bora caves were once considered a possibility, but this was cut from the itinerary for safety reasons.