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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, 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

      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!

  • [...] on horseback at an awkward spot can be related to the insistence of the Macedonian government to erect as many new equestrian statues as possible, even to Fin de siècle revolutionaries and [...]

  • 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.

  • Yll Salihu

    I agree with Gane on this! First of all, Goran, you have no right to call UCK a mafia, without knowing what they did or how they fought with valor. And about your heroes, so called ”macedonian” heroes, they do not exist. Macedonians as a people do not exist. You are bulgarians and serbians that populated that territory led by greed and hunger for a country. You talk about Skënderbeu, acting like you know about Albanian history, but sorry mate, I can freely say that you know nothing about our history and even your history (oops! I forgot that you do not exist as a nationality, so you do not have a history of your people). Try tracing back the existence of original macedonians. You will see that they are Greek, a nationality and a country which did its’ best in order to exterminate Albanian people and annex our territory. And now for the project ‘Skopje 2014′… Just as some people said, I think that this is an illiterate plan by Prime Minister Gruevski, trying to build buildings that seem to be ‘similar’(which recording to this plan are not) to the neo-classicist buildings. The only part that I like about this plan is the looks of the theatre, but still, this way the PM decided to seggregate the people, only including Orthodox churches in the plan and not even a single mosque. This is pure discrimination. Skopje has a lot to work on its infrastructure, meaning roads and railway. Besides that, the airports are in bad condition, the education level is not so good, and so are the objects (schools, universities). These are only some of the reasons why I think Skopje should first develop the ‘basement’ to this so called modern (based on classical structures) Skopje.

  • Constantine

    The issue here is the changes in Skopje. It had the possibility of becoming a regional centre between Sofia, Thessaloniki, Prishtina, even Belgrade. But the government does not recognise the Albanianess of Mother Teresa, the Hellenism of Alexander, the Oecumenical power of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in promoting the Greek-speaking Cyrill and Methodius. It does not recognise the importance of Delcev for Bulgaria. I respect the fact that these figures are central to the identity of the modern Republic of Macedonia, but my feeling is that those statues were chosen and designed mostly to promote Skopje as a centre Makedonce irredentism, not as a welcoming geasture of recognition and reconcilliation.
    Goran, I think that my dream for Skopje and the Republic of Macedonia was more idealistic than yours. I hope the citizens of Skopje will be able to overcome the imperialistic aberations of their masters and keep their city as an open and exciting place to visit.

  • [...] la storia con un'impronta personale, una dimensione importante delle opere grandiose (cantieri, palazzi [en], campagne, eventi, costruzioni, ecc.) oggi sta aumentando il flusso di mezzi, soldi e altre [...]

  • [...] manavaka ny tena, ny sehatra iray lehibe amin'ireo fandraharahana goavana (tetik'asa, tranobe, fanentanana, hetsika, fanorenana, sns.) ankehitriny dia mampitombo ny fahaiza-manao, vola sy [...]

  • winand magen

    i things hit is a litell beat to mutch and the lions and other sculpturs hare not very well they have some great mistakes in their constrution and you are going to the passed not to the future.

  • [...] 昔、大掛かりで仰々しい冒険は、リーダーの永遠性を確かなものとし、リーダーに関する集合記憶に消えない印を刻むために行われた。歴史に個人の印を残すことの重要性は軽くみるべきではないが、今日の仰々しい冒険(プロジェクト・建物・キャンペーン・イベント・建設など)には、手法や金やその他の資源が増え、ふさわしいと考えられる人間にさまざまな方法で資源を割り当てることができるようになったという重要な側面がある。資源の流量が増えることにより、より楽に大衆を望む場所に導けるようになった。他の効果に加えて、金のダイナミズムのおかげで、どこの誰にどのくらい与えるか予測し、恩恵を受ける人と自分を結びつけることができるようになった。 [...]

  • [...] storia con un’impronta personale, una dimensione importante delle opere grandiose (cantieri, palazzi [en], campagne, eventi, costruzioni, ecc.) oggi sta aumentando il flusso di mezzi, soldi e altre [...]

  • [...] la storia con un’impronta personale, una dimensione importante delle opere grandiose (cantieri, palazzi [en], campagne, eventi, costruzioni, ecc.) oggi sta aumentando il flusso di mezzi, soldi e altre [...]

  • Voya

    The whole project is great, except for the Arch.

  • Ige

    Great project! I also agree with Voya that the arch is out of place, but everything else looks great.
    Cant wait to see the final product.

  • Ige

    To Constantine:

    You really need to learn your history right. I can see that you are not a Macedonian, because if you were you would have known your own history and culture.

    Hellenism was a cultural movement that helped spread the Hellenic culture out of their original borders. In the time of Alexander, Ancient Greeks were traders, philosophers, writers, etc. their cultural movement inspired everyone in the world. Alexander’s father found him the best Greek teachers, just as nowadays people from all over the world dream to go and study in Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Standford, etc…
    Historians have clearly stated that language does not determine the nationality of one person. Just as me speaking English doesnt make me an Anglo-Saxon.

    Goce Delcev was a Macedonian and was fighting for the independence of Macedonia. In that time the Bulgarian prince and army was the only ones that supported the Macedonians for their fight for independence. Little did the Macedonians now about the true Bulgarian intentions, the expansion of their borders to Ohrid and Saloniki.

    You can read old documents from the Turkish archive and from the New York Times about what was going on in that time, if you need some extra information..
    There are also numerous German and French maps from that time showing Macedonians as separate group of people. Not Bulgarian nor Greek but Macedonian.

    Also check the ABECEDAR school book that teh Greek government approved after teh balkan wars, so that the native Macedonians can learn their native language.
    All ABECEDAR books were burned shortly after being approved, due to fear of loosing control of their northern province.

    I dont have time to go into more details, but please refrain from posting delirious statements that are posted only with intention to offend me and the rest of the Macedonians visiting this blog.


  • Constantine.

    @ Ige
    I assume that you are not the spokesperson of all the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, or of the Macedonians visiting this blog. That is good because you are simply assuming what I said. It is easy to assume on the internet. Please read again.
    Skopje was actually becoming a world leader in architecture after 1963. I think that my hope and my dreams for your country and for Skopje were much bigger than yours. But people like you are winning; you seem more interested in defending the Republic of Macedonia against imagined enemies, instead of fighting to make it a leading light in the region. With this new architecture the dream is disappearing and Skopje is becoming just another city with bland official architecture.
    I just hope I am wrong about ‘you’ and about Skopje.

    • Constantine: One other good feature of Skopje–besides the failed attempt to become modernist flagship–after the 1963 earthquake was development and enforcement of strict construction rules that would make the buildings more resilient.

      It seems that has been lost also, as unsuitable private construction projects commence in areas deemed most dangerous over underground faults and on softer soils – according to an interview [MKD] with retired prof. of civil engineering Apostol Pocevski for Dnevnik daily.

      In addition, some time ago the Government announced plans to build skyscrapers, up to 100 stories high, in the center and in other areas – but did not specify the deadline yet.

      Prof. Pocevski said: “The structure of the soil in Skopje has been subject to detailed analysis and new examinations are not necessary. Therefore these results must be taken into account when new urbanization decisions are made. The expert public knows about these studies, but keeps mum because the probability of new earthquake in near future is low. However, current building in Skopje is a crime against the future generations. A new disaster might struck in 100 years, but the people today do not think about that, it seems far away. What kind of people are they, building without thinking about the future generations?”

  • [...] construction workers to comment on this site that is currently under reconstruction, as part of the Skopje 2014 reconstruction project, a proposal which is receiving a lot of criticism. In defense to the [...]

  • A Fellow Canadian

    The “Skopje 2014″ project is the greatest idea imagined by the Macedonian government. This country is on the rise in all aspects, economy, transportation, health care, education, etc. It is a much needed facelift that will continue to drive businesses and tourists to Macedonia. This ingenius project was long overdue and they must extend it to the entire country. Macedonia is a newly independent country but has a rich history and must present and preserve it to the world. Any Greeks on this site should be worried about the state of their country and not meddle with Macedonia!!
    A Canadian Friend.

  • [...] of the Alexander the Great statue that will adorn the main square in Skopje as part of the Skopje 2014 plan. Other photos of this “masterpiece that will hover over the heads of Skopjans” have [...]

  • Steve

    Skopje 2014 is the rebirth of a lost world.
    We welcome all other parts of the world to embrace a monumental transition. The grand expose will provide the fundamental roots to a frozen moment in time.
    Skopje 2014 is the beginning of a new world order. The truth can now be told.
    Macedonia, regarded as a minnow to the world in recent times, can now be felt and touched again.

  • [...] the grandiose monument to Alexander of Macedon and his horse Bucephalus, built as part of the Skopje 2014 project. [...]

  • This morning CNN aired a news item about Skopje 2014 entitled “Macedonia’s pride or folly?” – partly based on this post, which included a statement by the author on site in Skopje.

  • [...] година в Global Voices колегата Филип Стояновски написа, че въпреки всичко, в Интернет се наблюдава бунт срещу [...]

  • [...] múltheti mémje volt ez a videó, amelyen egy meztelen fiatal férfi látható, aki beleugrott a Szkopje 2014 projekt [en] keretében Nagy Sándor és lova, Bukephalosz tiszteletére állított kút medencéjébe. [...]

  • [...] also add that the Skopje 2014 Project was part of this plan. Its purpose was to defocus the attention of the Greek side from the true [...]

  • [...] poashtu shtojnë se Projekti Shkupi 2014 është pjesë e këtij plani, i cili ka pasur për qëllim ta defokusojë vëmendjen e palës [...]

  • [...] még, hogy a  Szkopje 2014 Projekt [en] is e terv része volt.  A terv szerepe az volt, hogy elterelje a görögök figyelmét a [...]

  • [...] Koteska published an analysis of the implications of Skopje 2014 project in the light of the concepts developed by foremost contemporary philosophers and other thinkers. [...]

  • [...] Koteska publikoi një analizë të pasojave të projektit Shkupi 2014, në dritën e koncepteve të zhvilluara nga filozofët më të theksuar bashkëkohorë dhe [...]

  • [...] boom in the Center municipality, which had been turned into a giant construction site through the Skopje 2014 project. The surrounding area is also an epicenter of the activities of the so-called “urban [...]

  • [...] triumphal arch was the most controversial element of the Skopje 2014 project. Many of its critics noted that it was superfluous and obsolete. The arch in Astana stands [...]

  • [...] арка е най-противоречивият елемент от проекта “Скопие 2014″ (английски). Много от неговите критици отбелязват, че [...]

  • [...] polished classicist/baroque visual identity on the center of the Macedonian capital through the Skopje 2014 project (which features bronze lions), with interviews of people from the graffiti [...]

  • [...] hal baru, secara klasik dipoles/identitas visual baroque pada ibukota Makedonia melalui proyek Skopje 2014 (yang menampilkan singa perunggu), dengan adegan interview dari masyarakat [...]

  • [...] klasika/barôka eo afovoan-tanànan'ny renivohitra Masedonianina amin'ny alalan'ny tetikasa Skopje 2014 (izay mampisongadina ny Liona vita amin'ny alimo), sy ny tafatafa nifanaovana tamin'ireo [...]

  • [...] улици на македонската столица, посредством проекта Скопие 2014 (включващ бронзови лъвове, анг) с интервюта на [...]

  • [...] të lustruar, klasik/barok vizual në qendrën e kryeqytetit të Maqedonisë nëpërmjet projektit Shkupi 2014 (i cili përfshin edhe luanë nga bronza), me intervistat me njerëzit që vizatojnë grafite [...]

  • […] hänvisning till konstruktionen Skopje 2014-projektet som resulterade i att Skopje utnämndes till "kitschhuvudstaden" i globala massmedier, […]

  • […] di polizia e uno di statue antiche—veri reperti archeologici— posti lì nel 2007. Con il  progetto Skopje 2014 [en], infatti, il governo sta trasformando l'architettura modernista della città in uno stile […]

  • […] wa sanamu za kale -kazi za sanaa za kihistoria- zilizowekwa pale tangu mwaka 2007. Chini ya  Mradi wa Skopje 2014, serikali inakusudia kubadilisha eneo hilo la kisasa kuwa madhari ya mtindo wa kigen kwa kutumia […]

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