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Macedonia: Celebrating Basketball Win Over Lithuania

The celebration of the Macedonian entry in the semifinals of the European basketball championship has spilled over from the country's streets, balconies and town squares into the blogosphere.

Ogledalo na edna dusha (Mirror of a Soul) blog posted [mk] photos and videos from the celebration of the victory of the Macedonian national team over the host, Lithuania, at the EuroBasket 2011, with levels of euphoria higher than the precedent with Greece.

Barabass considers [mk] this win as a defining moment of his generation, “something to tell the grandkids about.”

Ruling politicians have scrambled to get on the basketball victory bandwagon. The president already gave a medal to the national team in absentia, while the government used taxpayers’ money to buy tickets for 150 hand-picked “professional fans” [mk] to go to the game.

Citizens privately voiced frustration over the brazen lack of transparency and accountability, especially because some of the pro-government media used the phrase “at its own expense,” as if the ministers were paying from their own pockets. The charter flight for this allegedly politically-connected group was sponsored by the Turkish company TAV, a a major investor in Macedonia. According to Netpress [mk], the “select” mob had a fight on the plane and compromised its security, and the airliner refused to accept 11 of them on the return flight.

The state budget also funded celebratory fireworks at Skopje's main square:

Social media users spread the following joke, referring to the general low level of knowledge about Macedonia in geographic terms outside of the Balkan region (most Macedonians who have been abroad can share a story about meeting people who had no clue where it was, or said it was an island in Africa or something to that effect).

- Where are you from?
- From Macedonia.
- And where is Macedonia?
- In the semifinals!!!

Twitter user Biljana also noted [sr] that the celebrations also spread to Serbia [sr] – a historic first gesture of “reciprocity.” Most Macedonian sports fans traditionally root for all ex-Yugoslav teams that make it to international competitions, when they don't compete against Macedonia.

Twitter users in the past few days have however, expressed aggravation due to the uncalled-for demeaning comments in some media from these countries.

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