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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-31

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Skopje regrets over defaced flag

  • [01] Skopje regrets over defaced flag

    The foreign minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Antonio Milososki, on Monday expressed his "deep sorrow" over several billboard ads here that replaced the white Cross on the Greek flag with a Swastika.

    "It is a particularly unfortunate incident, which occurred during a particularly crucial moment," Milososki told the ANA-MPA.

    The FYROM minister also noted that he had spoke with Amb. Alexandra Papadopoulou, the head of the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje, to whom he expressed regrets over the appearance of the insulting billboards, reportedly stressing in Greek that "we were friends and friends we will remain".

    He also termed the content of the billboard ads as "abuse of the freedom of expression".

    "We must not allow such unacceptable acts, such as the appearance of billboards that insult Greece's national symbol, to damage relations between the countries," Milososki said.

    Amb. Papadopoulou had lodged a demarche with the government here on Sunday evening in protest of the billboard ads.

    The Swastika imagery on the Greek flag -- in place of the Cross -- was the first item covered by most television news programmes in Greece on Sunday evening, touching on a particularly sensitive nerve, given that the east Mediterranean country sustained monumental damages and loss of life during World War II during successive Italian and German invasions, followed by a triple occupation (1941-1944) by Nazi German, Italian fascist and Bulgarian troops.

    According to an ANA-MPA dispatch from Skopje, the controversial billboard ads ostensibly promote a photographic exhibition in the city's cultural centre from April 3 to May 3.

    US envoy in Athens

    Meanwhile, in Athens, US ambassador to Greece Daniel Speckhard issued a same-day statement on the disturbing development, noting that the "public display of the Greek flag drawn with a swastika instead of a white cross on billboards advertising an art exhibit in Skopje is understandably offensive to Greeks and others who suffered under fascism and Nazism during World War II ? We welcome official statements from Skopje disassociating the government from any such visual symbols or rhetoric."

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