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Macedonia: Online Rebellion Against “Skopje 2014″ Plan

After years of veiled announcements, media manipulation and bureaucratic dodging of requests for transparency, accountability and citizen participation, the local government of Centar Municipality [MKD] finally came out with a plan – made in coordination with the central government [MKD] – to litter the center of the Macedonian capital Skopje with a number of new monuments and buildings.

Below is the video presentation of the government project:

Viktor Arsovski of IT.com.mk, providing an overview of the reactions to the unveiling of the government's plan, reported [MKD]:

Citizens use social networks, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube to comment, criticize, ridicule, and, to a smaller extent, praise the future look of Skopje in 2014. Makfax posted the video “Visualisation of the Skopje center in 2014″ yesterday, on February 4th. In just one day it attracted over 16,000 views and over 380 comments.

Right-wing blogger Alek Careca expressed a view held by many of his ideological brethren:

Personally, I am impressed and fascinated. Skopje will have one of the most beautiful city centres.

However, Mr. Arsovski rightly notes that most of the reactions express disagreement for aesthetic reasons and/or due to the huge costs of the project, especially since the mayor of Centar Municipality has recently stated [MKD] that “the worst of the economic crisis is over, we have enough money for monuments,” whose total cost is estimated to be at least 17 million euro.

Volan, a blogger with background in economics, could only note that this development is not a joke [MKD], even though it looks like one. Nenad Jovanovic quoted his grandmother [MKD], who used to say:

Son, never underestimate the power of stupidity and kitsch.

The portal Okno published a compilation of comments [MKD], following up on earlier articles dealing with this and the related phenomena, whose authors spoke about the burden of living in such “interesting” times [MKD] and ironically noted [MKD] that in the future Macedonia would be able to compete with Easter Island:

Inspired tourist guides will explain to visitors from world over that this extinct civilization, in the midst of transitions and world crises, spent its meager resources on building monuments and other stoned works in order to leave traces in time that would bear witness of its defiance to the damned neighbors and other foreign clergy-fascist fiends.

Faced with the absurd, tweets (#Skopje2014) and Facebook posts often use humor as an antidote.

For instance, Interpreter published a lucid poem titled “Two Thousand and Fourteen” [MKD], while FlavrSavr compared the video to the Caesar IV game trailer [MKD], saying that in this version…

…the difference is that journalists and other traitors [referring to smear tactics used by government supporters for all who express criticism] will have to play the role of gladiators.

Twitter users also spread the statement by Ramadan Ramadani [MKD], a representative of the Muslim community, who demands inclusion of a mosque in the plan – or exclusion of the new church:

The main square of the capital of Macedonia belongs to all the citizens and is not a field for playing [FarmVille].

A history buff used Wikipedia to compare the “vision” to make the grand national capital through massive and costly rebuilding to similar failed ambitions from the past.

The author of the blog Psycha… the edge of logic proposed [MKD] that the dome that the government plans to add to the Parliament building should be turned into a planetarium. Macedonia has only one such facility, built in the early 1970s and not renovated since, which suffers from neglect [MKD] due to lack of funds for maintenance.

Members of a grassroots group who got beaten up last spring called for a spontaneous protest against the government's unresponsiveness [MKD] to the citizens’ reactions. The protest is scheduled to take place this coming Saturday, at 2 PM, on the “unoccupied portion of the main square.”

  • Robert

    And now the local Government in collusion with the National Government has put on video for the entire World to see, just how stupid they are. This is an embarrassment to the people of Macedonia. What everyone should notice is the statues were highlighted – read – the local Government will be awarding the creation of these absurd works to their friends now, under the guise of the 2014 project. What will be in place in 2014? Piles of ugly bronze statues located between the same ugly architecture that exists in the city centre now! Macedonia wake up your politicians are playing you all for fools!

    • Constantine

      I hoped that because the Macedonians love their country they would look after their capital and give a good example to Athens, Sofia and Tirana. But obviously, as you explained it, Skopje politicians (like those of Athens, Sofia, etc) love money and themselves much more than their country or their capital city. I hope ordinary Skopjans will fight for their city.

  • Constantine

    Skopje is so lucky!
    It obviously has enough hospitals for the population (not). The schools are fully equiped (not). The road system is first class (not). The buses are quiet and they dont pollute (not). The train service fast, regular and reliable (not). And the taxis so comfortable and honest, it only costs euro 120 (yes) from the city centre to the airport (it’s cheaper to fly London-Athens but who cares).
    I was particularly impressed to notice that Albanian Macedonians were excluded from the grand design.
    I suggest a giant 3D, circular cinema complex built like the Coliseum in Rome where computer generated animation show us true-blooded Macedonians from the VMRO-DPMNE government, defeating Albanian, Greek and Bulgarian slaves.
    But, really, I will miss the old Skopje for which I had so many hopes.

  • beata

    I feel shame that I am coming from Skopje, it was a wonderful city… they kill the spirit also, with all that attention on cheap stuffs, generaly!!!
    Halp me lord!!! ;)))

    • Constantine

      Beata
      fight for your city, you live in a human little country and it needs a human capital. The people have not yet been dehumanised and I love the small statues like those of the musicians or the area near Taftalidze(?) which is like a holiday place full of people, colour and little bars. I also love Aerodrom. But these new statues… :-( What is wrong with having statues of poets?
      Skopje will end up being a concrete jungle like Athens full of zombies.

  • Dana

    Just when we thought that our dear government had reached the absolute heights of stupidity, they surprise us with going even higher!!! Hard to believe that anybody with at least some intelligence, sense of social responsibility and inkling of what is beauty could come up with such a nightmare vision STOP THEIR SKOPJE 2014, SAVE OUR SKOPJE NOW!

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  • http://www.dhellison.com David

    When I came across the video Skopje 2014, at first I thought it was a travelogue, then I realized it must be some wing-nut’s fantasy – now I’ve found it is a real proposal – yikes! The most similar video I have seen on Youtube is “New Moscow” – a Stalinist version of Skopje 2014 – unfortunately, the architecture in Skopje 2014 isn’t as good. The 1963 earthquake and the subsequent brutalist architecture was bad enough – can Skopje’s leaders at least hire qualified architects to design their neo-Roman monuments? Whoever created the video doesn’t understand classical architectural language. I agree it would be much better to create better schools, hospitals and mass transit and to prepare for the long emergency than to perpetrate this vision on Skopje. Perhaps a more modest city beautification effort could be instituted instead – even possibly including an equestrian statue, but maybe one without a rider, representing potential rather than conquest.

  • Goran

    Jealousy and stupidity is the main reason that some people or opposition party sympathizer are against this project.
    The SDSM (opozition) party was ruling for 15 years and never built a single thing in Macedonia. My question is where did all that money go?

    VMRO-DPMNE to current leading party has been actively building, rebuilding and fixing different infrastructures within Macedonia. The irony here is that the SDSM party is arguing against any kind of construction withing Skopje, the capital, because it would destroy the communist look of the city, which was actually designed after the big earthquake in 1963.
    But their main concern is actually that they will never get back to power due to the fact that in 15 years of ruling, they never did anything for the people but fill up their own bank accounts and start-up their own businesses.

    I fully support the Skopje 2014 project, and majority of Macedonians support it as well, beside what is being written here on this website.

    • Zlatko

      Are you serious? The people don’t have enough money to eat, have you ever been on a bus?! I mean, come on, this country is in a dangerous downwards spiral, and i don’t see it stopping with the politicians we currently have, any of them, regardless of which party they are. This country needs serious change.

      They are taking your money for god’s sake, my mother worked in the hospital and she hasn’t received a paycheck for over 1 year…why?! So they would build some ugly statue…disgusting!

  • Gane

    Until now the Republic of Macedonia did not have enough money, but does it have it now?
    Of course new buildings are needed in Skopje but the city needs good, esthetic, environmentally friendly buildings. The problem is that most of the architecture offered is a disaster in its interpretation of Classical motifs. It rejects sound Classical lines for political reasons to do with Greece, but also wants them for reasons of ‘ancient identity’. The result is mostly bad architecture. Only the former Yugolsav theatre seems reasonable.
    The large number and choice of the statues are also chosen for political reasons and they celebrate conflict. They are there to tell the Albanians that Skopje does not belong to them and to send other messages to Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia. Statues should be there for the Skopjians.
    Finally, ‘Skopje 2014′ permanently divides the city between Albanian east and Republic of Macedonian west. So Skopje 2014 is an illiterate VMRO-DPMNE choice, guided by megalomania and chauvinism, it is not the work of a party that respects its capital and the people who live there.

  • Goran

    Gane has no idea what he is talking about.
    If he feels ashamed of his history that is his personal shortcoming.
    The purpose of this monuments is not to send any messages to Bulgaria, Greece or any of the Macedonian Albanians, but to unite the Macedonians under the same history and culture.
    I did not see Gane or people like him complaining when they placed the statue of Skenderbeg, and Albanian fighter against the Ottoman Rule, in old “carsija” part of Skopje.
    Hypocrits like Gane is what keeps some of the people divided and our country Economically and Politically weak.

  • Goran

    Goran is funny when he says we keep the country divided and politically weak. You must be thinking of Gruevski or the UCK mafia. I was against the Skenderbeg statue because it was a crazy irredentist and hyper-nationalist choice because Skenderbeg had nothing to do with the territory of the Republic of Macedonia. And Alexander the great had little to do with the territory of Republic of Macedonia and he did not even want or conquer Skopje. He conquered the south of our country like he did Thrace and did very little.
    The central square is now conquered by giant statues and it is good to celebrate our heroes but not consentrated there because Skopje had an example of human statues like the traditional macedonian music players. And I like new buildings but they must be friendly and have good classical style or inteligent modern style. And the worst thing is that the real Skopje, the old buildings from before the earthquake are falling but the pollution and chaos of the major traffic roads is increasing.

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