Greece warned Macedonia about a poster appearing in the capital Skopje that advertises a private art exhibition with a Greek flag and a swastika replacing the cross saying that it may ruin their chances to join NATO.
Before the poster issue, Greece has already threatened to refuse Macedonia’s NATO bid is the dispute about the name “Macedonia” is not yet resolved.
The Macedonian government has expressed their apologies about the poster, after the official diplomatic complain from Greece.
The Greek ambassador Alexandros Mallias complained to Washington in a letter to President George Bush, Jewish organizations in the United States and the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about the poster saying:
“The picture of the Greek flag defaced by the Nazi swastika replacing the cross is deeply offensive and insulting to the patriots and heroes, Greeks and Americans alike, who gave their lives fighting Nazism and Fascism during World War II.”
“The poster was the product of an aggressive and hostile propaganda that the Skopje government has been propagating in Greece. Can you imagine a country aspiring to become a NATO member in less than 48 hours, but tolerating such propaganda?,” said Mallias in an interview with the Associated Press.
NATO is set to decide on the Macedonia membership bid at the summer in Bucharest on Thursday.
If Macedonia and Greece fail to resolve the dispute over the former “Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” name, Greece would veto membership. Greece argues that using “Macedonia” today would imply territorial claims that adjoined Greek province of the same name, but Skopje rejects Greece’s case.
The Macedonian government has disassociated itself from the controversial poster, but explained it would not interfere with freedom of expression.