Nikola Tesla: Sparks fly over plans to honour inventor with coin

image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionTesla's inventions included the remote control and fluorescent lighting

Nikola Tesla, pioneer of alternating current electricity, might have been shocked to know how his legacy would cause a row between European states.

Serbia's central bank has threatened to take action with the EU if its neighbour Croatia puts the late great inventor on its coins.

Croatia wants his face on its euros when it joins the currency in 2023.

But Serbia claims him for its own because he saw himself as a Serb though born in what is now Croatia.

The two countries are old rivals with a tragic history.

Croatia's national bank said it would put the inventor on its future 50, 20 and 10-cent coins, after consulting the public. It will put its plan to the EU in October.

Serbia's central bank hit back by saying that to put Tesla on Croatian coins would mean "usurping" Serbian heritage.

But Croatia is not backing down. Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milosevic – who like Tesla is an ethnic Serb – said he was "proud and happy" with the plan.

Tesla's ashes were buried in Serbia, where Belgrade airport bears his name.

He was behind major modern inventions including the remote control and fluorescent lighting.

For a time the inventor, who died in 1943, had only a cult following. Then Elon Musk named his electric car company after him.

It may be better not to mention, though, that Tesla lived most of his life in the United States, BBC Balkans Correspondent Guy De Launey adds.

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