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.”


  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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