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.”


  • 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. […]

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.