ATHENS (AFP) - Greece slammed Macedonia on Wednesday over the erection of a giant statue of Alexander the Great, a hero Athens claims as its own, in its neighbour's capital Skopje. The 22-metre (72-foot) monument has further soured relations between the countries locked in a long-running dispute over Macedonia's name. Greece has blocked its neighbour's accession to NATO and the EU, saying that its name implies a claim on the northern Greek region of the same title. The statue project "is directly geared towards the appropriation of Greek history with the aim of stirring up nationalism and conflict," said foreign affairs spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Wednesday. Such "provocative and reprehensible politics" would have "repercussions for the European-Atlantic outlook which cannot be ignored," he said. Athens is to "inform its partners and allies," Delavekouras added in a statement, while calling on Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski not to "mortgage his citizens' future in Europe" and risk taking the country backwards. Skopje authorities have officially called the statue, designed by local sculptor Valentina Stevanovska, a "Warrior On a Horse" in a bid to prevent Greek objections, but the face resembles numerous depictions of the ancient leader. Both Macedonia and Greece claim Alexander the Great as their own. Born in Pella, in modern-day Greece, Alexander of Macedon conquered the Persian Empire and much of the world known to ancient Greeks before dying in Babylon in 323 BC at the age of 32. Macedonia decided to finance the statue in 2007, the year after it changed the name of Skopje airport to "Alexander the Great" in a move that also riled Athens.