In the early 1990s, the White Tower, located in the capital city of the Greek region of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, became the focus of a major controversy between Greece and the newly independent Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – the controversy was part of a larger dispute over the historically important name of Macedonia.
Unofficial “Makedonka” souvenir banknotes were created by nationalist organisations in the Former Yugoslav Republic.
They depicted the White Tower of Thessaloniki, in spite of the tower being located in the Greek region of Macedonia and not in the Former Yugoslav Republic, whose territory only compromises about 10% of Ancient Macedonia.
Nationalist organisation VMRO-DPMNE went so far as to propose the White Tower-depicting banknote’s official adoption. However, the government in Skopje rejected its official use and adopted a different design for the new denar, which was issued in 1992.
IMPRES, nonetheless, printed unofficial banknotes depicting the White Tower, which were sold as souvenirs on the streets of Skopje, bearing the disclaimer, “This is a souvenir banknote and not for official use.”
The printing of the notes became the subject of a rumour in Greece that the currency of the new neighbouring state did in fact depict Greek symbols—a highly controversial point, given the dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic because of its claims over a Greek name and flag.
The notes were never placed in circulation, as they were not legal tender, but the episode nonetheless exacerbated the ill will felt between the two countries and helped to aggravate tensions.
READ MORE: Where is the Body of Alexander the Great?