Skopje starts removing ‘irredentist’ statues put up by Gruevski government

The work of removing statues and public monuments put up by the previous government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), led by nationalist prime minister Nikola Gruevski, was set in motion by Zoran Zaev’s government in Skopje on Thursday.

The statues formed part of the Gruevski government’s “Skopje 2014” programme, which was seen as an irredentist campaign by neighbouring countries, including Greece.

Starting at 3:00 on Thursday morning, cranes belonging to the municipality removed the statue of Andon Janev (Kyoseto) – a freedom fighter of the 19th century Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization (IMARO) who is claimed as a national hero by both Bulgaria and FYROM – from the entrance of the country’s supreme court.

The removal of the statues follows up earlier confidence-building measures by the Zaev government, such as renaming Skopje airport and a major highway previously named for Alexander the Great.