In its latest issue, The Economist has looked into the matter of naming airports in the Balkan region.
The British weekly newspaper considers that airports in the countries in the region were named in a way to annoy each other, thus, as a first example, they singled out Zagreb Airport describing it as a ‘’new futuristic edifice’’.
‘’It was renamed after Franjo Tudjman, the father of the Croatian independence movement. In the bloody war, Tudjman fought against Croatian Serbs who were supported by Serbia and who established a short-lived and separated Serbian republic on a third of Croatian territory. In 1995, most of these Croatian Serbs were exiled’’, wrote The Economist.
‘’Among victims of the ethnic cleansing were also cousins of the world’s most famous Serb and inventor Nikola Tesla. He was born in a Serbian family in 1856 on the territory of today’s Croatia; however, he immigrated to America. Both Serbs and Croats consider him as one of their own. In 2006, the airport in Belgrade was named after Nikola Tesla, which some of Croats found disturbing’’, continued The Economist.
The British newspaper stated a few more examples such as Priština Airport in Kosovo, which was named after Adem Jašari, the leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army who was killed by Serbian forces. ‘’For Albanians he is a hero, and for Serbs he is a devil’’, wrote The Economist. Of course, there are no flights operating between the airports Nikola Tesla and Adem Jašari.
Interestingly, this whole story with naming airports started with Greeks in 1992 when they named the airport in Thessaloniki after Macedonia in order to spite the newly established independent Republic of Macedonia. Later in 2007, Macedonians did the similar thing; they named their airport in Skopje Alexander the Great. However, the new Macedonian government wants better relations with Greece thus, it is possible that the Macedonians will change the name of the airport in Skopje after all.
In addition, The Economist commented that there are still exceptions to this practice stating a failed attempt of Bosnians to name the airport in Sarajevo after the former Bosnian President Alija Izetbegović. The airport in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica is simply called Podgorica, but it still bears the TGD code, meaning Titograd, as was the name of the Montenegrin capital while Montenegro was a part of the former Yugoslavia.