SKOPJE, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Macedonian authorities started Saturday removing the letters "Alexander the Great" from the sign of the recently-renamed "Skopje Airport" while they also removed signs on the national highway referred to it as highway "Alexander the Great".
The changes were made following a recent decision by the Macedonian government.
Macedonia decided on Feb. 6 to rename the country's motorway, from "Alexandros the Macedon" to friendship motorway and Skopje's airport from "Alexander the Great International Airport" to "Skopje International Airport".
Skopje Airport was named "Alexander the Great Airport" in 806, after a decision by the then government of Nikola Gruevski but such move has been contested by Greece which considered the placement of this name as a sign of Macedonia's irredentism plans.
The Greek authorities also considered the placement of Alexander the Great monument and Philip II in Skopje as inappropriate too.
Macedonia and Greece have been at odds since two decades as they haven't managed to solve the name issue.
The name issue between the two countries started in 1992, one year after Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia and chose the name Macedonia, which is also the name of a northern Greek province.
Greece worries the use of the same name by the neighboring state could lead to territorial claims.
But, to Macedonia solving the name issue with Greece is very important as it is considered the main obstacle to be overcome in order to start negotiations talks for European Union (EU) accession and NATO accession.
Therefore, Macedonian Prime Minister Zaev said after a meeting with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras held in Switzerland that his government would remove the name of Alexander the Great from its airport and highway to show its neighbor that Skopje had no irredentist plans.
Both countries consider Alexander the Great as their hero. Greece has a northern province called Macedonia, also the cradle of ancient Macedonia and its most famous leader, Alexander the Great.
Macedonia considers Alexander as part of local identity.
The Macedonian government also decided to remove Alexander's monument from the capital city's main square, saying that the monuments have caused great damage for the country and the citizens in terms of the relations with the neighboring countries.
But opposition VMRO-DPMNE party has condemned the removal of the monuments, including that of the Macedonian revolutionary, Andon Qose, placed in front of the Supreme Court in Skopje.