Thursday, October 14, 2010

Does Skopje need a "Skenderbeg Square"?

The Macedonian government is spending millions to renovate a square in Skopje. Now the mayor of an ethnic Albanian majority municipality wants to construct a competing square across the river. Are things getting out of hand?

By Klaudija Lutovska for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 08/10/10

Izet Medziti, mayor of the Chair district in Skopje, has an ambitious plan for his predominantly ethnic Albanian municipality. He wants to build a massive new public square honouring the 15th-century hero Skenderbeg.


At 29,000 square metres, it will be larger than the existing Macedonia Square, just across the River Vardar, which bisects the city. Constructing it could cost as much as 50m euros.

Because it would be located on a legally protected national landmark, Skopje's Old Bazaar, a state permit is required. "The Chair municipality has not asked for such a permit," Culture Minister Elizabeta Kancevska-Milevska told SETimes.

Nevertheless, the government has allocated an estimated 356,000 euros to draw up an architectural plan.

Albanian intellectuals seem divided over the issue. Many question the need and cost, saying it is a costly example of urban planning being used for political ends.

Others argue the new square will reflect Skopje's multiethnic reality -- something they say the government's "Skopje 2014" project, aimed at renovating Macedonia Square, failed to do.

"Is the square necessary at a time when the citizens have many more urgent needs?" asks journalist Nazim Rashidi, summing up the reaction of many.

Dzabir Dervala of the NGO "Civil" describes the plans as "megalomanic" and "on par with the other party across the bridge". Both, he says, are unproductive.

"From a political aspect," Dervala said, "the square is a reflection of what is happening in the country and is arrogantly forced by the governing elements [upon the citizens]."

Politicians, he says, would do better to propose infrastructure projects that "deal with poverty and address security challenges".

Monumental works can be a positive thing in normal circumstances, writes analyst Alber Musliu, but not in a time of economic crisis. The rush to propose competing squares is like "creating feuds", he suggests.

Sociologist Hasan Jashari, however, believes the new square will help ease interethnic tensions, though at a steep cost. "It is a compromise solution by the coalition partners to achieve peace in house. It is not a product of the real needs of the population, keeping in mind the essential problems of the citizens with regard to food, health care, education and housing," Jashari said.

Analyst Artan Sadiku disagrees. "The suggestion to build a square around the Skenderbeg statue is being exploited by [the Democratic Union of Integration party] to fulfil its party goals, as well as to stir up ethnic tensions in Macedonia," said Sadiku.

By naming this project "Skenderbeg", DUI is trying to position itself to Albanians as a history maker in its competition with its coalition partner, VMRO. "In order to stay in power, the parties use the same methods to create a nationalist fetish through which the state budget is spent on construction," he said.

Others, like Union of Albanian Intellectuals Avzi Mustafa and journalist Daut Dauti, are enthusiastic. They argue the project is well thought out and links the modern and the traditional.

It will also allow easier access and freer communication between Skopje's two parts bisected by the Vardar, they say. After all, "this space belongs to us all," Dauti concludes.

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Ka nevojë Shkupi për një "Shesh Skënderbeg"?
 
Izet Mexhiti, kryebashkiaku i lagjes Çair në Shkup, ka një plan ambicioz për komunën e tij me mbizotërim etnik shqiptar. Ai do që të ndërtojë një shesh të ri masiv publik për të nderuar heroin e shekullit të 15-të, Skënderbeun.


Me 29,000 metra katrore, ai do të jetë më i madh se Sheshi i Maqedonisë, vetëm përtej lumit Vardar, që ndan qytetin. Ndërtimi i tij mund të kushtonte deri në 50 milion euro.

Për shkak se ai do të vendosej në një vend kombëtar të mbrojtur me ligj, Pazarin e Vjetër të Shkupit, kërkohet një leje shtetërore. "Bashkia e Çairit nuk ka kërkuar për një leje të tillë," i tha SETimes ministrja e kulturës Elizabeta Kançevska-Milevska.

Megjithatë, qeveria ka ndarë rreth 356,000 euro për të hartuar një plan arkitekturor.

Intelektualët shqiptarë duken të ndarë lidhur me çështjen. Shumë vënë në pikpyetje nevojën dhe koston, duke thënë se është një shembull i kushtueshëm i planifikimit urban që po përdoret për qëllime politike.

Të tjerë argumentojnë se sheshi i ri do të pasqyrojë realitetin multietnik të Shkupit, diçka që siç thonë ata, projekti i qeverisë "Shkupi 2014" që kishte për qëllim rinovimin e Sheshit Maqedonia, dështoi ta bënte.

"Është sheshi një domosdoshmëri në një kohë kur qytetarët kanë nevoja shumë më urgjente?" pyet gazetari Nazim Rashidi, duke përmbledhur reagimin e shumë vetëve.

Xhabir Dervala i OJQ-së "Civil" i përshkruan planet si "megallomane" dhe baraz me palën tjetër përtej urës". Të dyja, thotë ai, janë jofrutdhënëse.

"Nga një aspekt politik," tha Dervala, "sheshi është një pasqyrim i asaj që ndodh në vend dhe është detyruar me arrogancë nga elementë qeverisës [mbi qytetarët]."

Politikanët, thotë ai, do të bënin më mirë të propozonin projekte infrastrukture që "të merreshin me varfërinë dhe t'i drejtoheshin sfidave të sigurisë".

Veprat monumentale mund të jenë një gjë pozitive në rrethana normale, shkruan analisti Alber Musliu, por jo në kohë krizash ekonomike. Nxitimi për të propozuar sheshe konkurruese është si "të krijosh hasmëri", sugjeron ai.

Sociologu Hasan Jashari, megjithatë beson se sheshi i ri do të ndihmojë të zbuten tensionet ndëretnike, ndonse me një kosto të lartë. "Është një zgjidhje kompromisi nga partnerët e koalicionit për të arritur paqen në vend. Nuk është produkt i nevojave reale të popullsisë, që ka parasysh problemet thelbësore të shtetasve lidhur me ushqimin, kujdesin shëndetësor, arsimin dhe strehimin," tha Jashari.

Analisti Artan Sadiku nuk është dakord. "Sugjerimi për të ndërtuar një shesh rreth statujës së Skënderbeut është shfrytëzuar nga [partia e Bashkimit Demokratik për Integrimin] për të përmbushur qëlimet e partisë si dhe për të nxitur tensionet etnike në Maqedoni," tha Sadiku.


Duke e qujtur këtë projekt "Skënderbeg", BDI po përpiqet ta vërë veten ndaj shqiptarëve si historibërëse në konkurrim me partneren e saj të koalicionit VMRO. "Me qëllim që të qëndrojë në pushtet, partitë përdorin të njëjtat metoda për të krijuar një fetish nacionalist nëpërmjet të cilit shpenzohet për ndërtimin buxheti i shtetit," tha ai.

Të tjerë si Avzi Mustafa i Bashkimit të Intelektualëve Shqiptarë dhe gazetari Daut Dauti, janë entusiastë. Ata argumentojnë se projekti është i menduar mirë dhe lidh modernen me tradicionalen.

Ai do të kejojë gjithashtu akses më të kollajtë dhe komunikim më të lirë midis të dy pjesëve të Shkupit të ndara nga Vardari, thonë ata. Gjithasesi, "kjo hapësirë na takon e gjitha ne," përfundon Dauti.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does Skopje need a “Skenderbeg Square”? No, it doesn’t.
First, it will cost lot of money. (BTW, Skopje 2014 is also wrong and cost lot of money!!!!!!)
Second, the reason is wrong. (“They” have square, now “we” will have, but bigger and better. It is pure nationalistic reason.)
Third, the way it’s presented is very very very wrong. (Not even Albanians are convinced that it’s good idea.)
This country (Macedonia) need jobs, not another monuments.
BTW, for those who don’t know, Skenderbeg’s statue is already displayed in Skopje in one of the most frequent place.

Free Malësia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Na Skopje mu e povazno ona sto im e vazno na site Makedonci. Da si go zadrzat svoeto ime Makedonija. Eden spomenik poveke ili pomalku, ne menuva mnogu

Anonymous said...

Its amazing how Albanians attempt to invent history and hijack all they can at every opportunity! Skenderbeg was more Serb than Albanian. I’m surprised that albanians havent claimed that Buddha or Jesus were also Albanian.

The Albanians love to invent and steal history, as they have no history of their own! Albanians are far better known for crime and acts of terrorism in the region! This money needs to be spent on the economy, not promoting Albanian nationalism and fairy tales!

Anonymous said...

You are intentionally confusing Serbs with Albanians! Gjergj Kastriot Skenderbeu (Scanderbec) was an Albanian prince in mid Albania (so this tells you he could be only Albanian and nothing else) and was 100% Albanian, as were his Kastrioti ancestors, and there are lots papers from Vatican and Venecia to prove that! You as a slavic hate it for what he was, even though he and his Albanian army protected you from Turkish invasion. However, there’s no point in explaining things to slavic people which read only what head of terrorists Miloshevic said.

Serbs as an artificial peoples/nation, brought from Russia into Balkan and placed into Albanian lands, tried and still try to nick and dissolve into the history of Albanian/Illyrians.

Anonymous said...

Pyetja e drejte do te ishte a ka nevoje shkupi per nje shesh skenderbeg tani? Ne mes te krizave, eshte mire qe parate e taksapaguesve te perdoren per gjera qe jane ne dobi te drejtperdrejte te tyre, rruge me te mira, rritje ekonomike, vende te reja pune, e keshtu me rradhe. Krenaria kulturore dhe historike eshte gje e mire, por eshte ne plan te dyte nese nuk plotesohen me pare nevojat paresore te individit. Gjithashtu, emri i heroit te shqiptareve Skenderbeut nuk duhet te perdoret per perfitime personale te nje partie apo te aleance apo te nje grupi te vogel njerezish. Gjithshka qe behet ne lidhje me sheshin, duhet te behet me mirekuptim, qe sheshi te jete i te gjitheve dhe te mos shihet nga jo-shqiptaret si dicka e keqe dhe jo e dobishme. Maqedonia duhet te jete ne kerkim te paqes dhe nese disa gjera, si sheshi do te duhet qe te presin, paqja ia vlen qe keto gjera te vihen ne pritje per njefare kohe, derisa gjendja ekonomike dhe politike ne vend te permiresoht

Anonymous said...

sheshi me emrin e skenderbeut duhet te behet.preteksti i varferise duhet te kete fuqi edhe per sllavet[pasi s’kane emer akoma].perse vetem shqiptaret s’duhet te mbrojne identitetin e tyre nderkohe qe sllavet vene ne rrezik hyrjen ne be per shkak te mbrojtjes sese identitetit te tyre[kur ta gjejne

Anonymous said...

sigurisht qe shupi duhet te kete nje shesh skenderbeg mirepo une nga kjo qeveri si dhe qeverite e meparshme nuk pres asgje te mire sepse ata jane nacionaliste te kqij qe me ta duhet te sillemi siq ata sillen me ne mirepo keta qeveritaret tane shqiptar jane me te kqij se ata sepse ata po pajtohen me te kqijat e maqedonasve .
ishalla more zot njehere e pergjithmone shiptaret mbushen mend sa te jemi budallenj per ne dote vazhdoje e keqja

Anonymous said...

What an absolute waste— truly a case of overinflated egos and self-aggrandizing politicians. As noted by several persons cited in the article, this competitive approach to governance and so called “public service” will neither meet real needs of real people, nor produce effective cooperation. Politicians, Please get your act together! Populace, don’t let this go unchallenged!

Anonymous said...

bugasThe monument highlights the fact that preserving existing heritage buildings and protecting sites of cultural importance, presently in ruins due to negligence and development activities, communist area, anti-Albanian feelings, now, it ought to be the main priority of Albanians in Macedonia and other Albanians throughout the Balkan Peninsula. FYI- an Endeavour is underway to preserve various heritage buildings of Albanian people in a bid to treasure the cultural heritage including historical monuments. So, this project is a part of a much larger project… to restore and preserve Albanian history and its heritage where Albanians have lived for 1000s of years. Every nation/people has the right to preserve its past! Albanians do not have any problems when their neighbors build their relevant historical monuments; these monuments are just a true reflection of the past!

…and from the economical perspective….there is a significant relation between tourism and the heritage sites because some tourists surely have some interest in what’s the history of people and what’s the culture of people. They don’t visit Shkup just to see the huge marble buildings. They don’t want to see the modern architecture, which in fact is mostly western; they visit Shkup to know about the past of that place, so Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu statue surely promotes and encourages tourism.

Anonymous said...

The monument highlights the fact that preserving existing heritage buildings and protecting sites of cultural importance, presently in ruins due to negligence and development activities, communist area, anti-Albanian feelings, now, it ought to be the main priority of Albanians in Macedonia and other Albanians throughout the Balkan Peninsula. FYI- an Endeavour is underway to preserve various heritage buildings of Albanian people in a bid to treasure the cultural heritage including historical monuments. So, this project is a part of a much larger project… to restore and preserve Albanian history and its heritage where Albanians have lived for 1000s of years. Every nation/people has the right to preserve its past! Albanians do not have any problems when their neighbors build their relevant historical monuments; these monuments are just a true reflection of the past!

…and from the economical perspective….there is a significant relation between tourism and the heritage sites because some tourists surely have some interest in what’s the history of people and what’s the culture of people. They don’t visit Shkup just to see the huge marble buildings. They don’t want to see the modern architecture, which in fact is mostly western; they visit Shkup to know about the past of that place, so Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu statue surely promotes and encourages tourism.

Anonymous said...

why do you fryomians persist? you try and tell the world that fryom in homogenis nation rooted in ancient macedonia and clearly you are a mixed ethnic state with lots of tensions. you better do whatever it takes to get into the eu and nato quickly otherwise i fear you will break into secterian warfare.

Anonymous said...

Makedoncite vo Makedonija imaat koreni vo Drevna Makedonija, no toa nema nikakva vrska so napisot. Nikade ne postojat etnicko cisti zaednici koi kako eden narod se pretstavuvaat nadvor. Makedonija e sovremen splet na mnogu nacionalnosti koi go imaat svoeto pravo da se narekuvaat kako sakaat, za razlika od nekoi nasi sosedi koi odamna se obiduvaat da gi unistat. Zatoa, ucete od Makedonija.

The Macedonians from the state of Macedonia have their roots in ancient Macedonia, but that has no connection to the article. There are no ethnically pure communities anywhere that present themselves abroad as one people. Macedonia is a contemporary mix of many nationalities which have the right to call themselves as they wish as opposed to some of our neighbors which have tried to destroy them long time ago. Therefore, learn from Macedonia.

Koli

Anonymous said...

Rubbish, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYROM) has nothing to do with the Ancient Hellenic Macedonian kingdom of Alexander the Great. Go to Pella in the real Macedonia and learn something. fYROM is a spin-off state from the former Yugoslavia. You can call yourselves whatever you want as long as that name does not lay claim to territories and history that is not yours. Be proud of your own history and don"t feel compelled to steal someone else history in order to justify your own existance.

The EU says no to fabricated ethnicities.

Anonymous said...

Simply I like the idea, and I don’t understand people who oppose it. Unless they come from Bulgarians of Macedonia, but they hate everyone in order to patch an identity for themselves.

~~~ Seris

Anonymous said...

The majority in the Republic of Macedonia are Macedonians, not Bulgarians. They have a right to discuss where will they spend the money from its state budget. Almost all Macedonians think it is not a good idea to placate politicians. Albanian intellectuals seem to agree. Not all Albanians of course, many are coopted by the political parties. Which is a shame

Anonymous said...

That an unbeliever’s statue has been erected in representation of Albanian people, in spite of the fact that there are many Muslim Albanians there (all Macedonian Albanians are Muslim) is quite significant. Macedono-Slavs are always doing this. They meaninglessly call the Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror bridge the “Justinian Bridge”. The purpose is to ignore the Ottoman Turkish heritage or otherwise give it a bad name. DENIAL is just one of the reasons why Macedonia cannot develop

Anonymous said...

Nobody is denying anybody’s heritage, you seem misinformed about the situation in Macedonia. Which bridge is that you are talking about, the Stone Bridge? If it is the Stone Bridge, that one is far older than Mehmed the Conqueror or any Turkish Sultan. Later the Serbs called it Dushan’s Bridge, claiming like you that Macedonians are denying Serbian herritage (which also is nonsense).
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Anonymous said...

People have no money to buy bread yet thesе people are building monuments. Even if the monuments have great significance for the culture, i.e., the cultural heritage, it is not important at all to people who are barely surviving. The money would be better used to build a factory or something else, as the citizen of Struga above said. I totally agree with you, because it would better invest that money to build something that will contribute to increasing the living standard than these monuments

Anonymous said...

Thank God Skenderbeg did not succeed in preventing the Turks from eventually conquering the Slavs. If Skenderbeg would have succeeded , there would be no Albanian, Kosovo or Macedonian ALbanians today. They would have all been assimilated by the Slaves just like the Orthodox Albaians have been assimiliated by the Greeks.

Albanians should be proud of the leaders of the league of Prizren and not of Skanderbeg. Real Albanian heros:

Sami Frashëri, Pashko Vasa, Abdyl Frasheri, Ali Beg Shabanagaj

Anonymous said...

Your post does not make sense. Iskender defended the Christian population from Ottoman domination. That population consists of Macedonians, Vlachs, Montenegrins, and others.

Iskender’s father was Jovan Kastriot, but the colonisers Tosks and Ghegs i.s. “Albanians” changed it to Ian, then into a more “Albanian” Gion. His mother’s name, Voislava, was changed into a more “Albanian” – Vojs. His brother Reposh’s name they did not change because he was admited into a monastery in Hilandar under that name and they couldn’t play with it.

Anonymous said...

Shut the hell up you idiot!

Skenderbeg and his siblings were pure 100% Albanian, why else would he defect from the Ottomans and join the outnumbered Albanian forces in the 15th Century?

Gjergj was King of Kings and ruled over all Albanian lands, including what is today Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, etc.

If it were not for the Albanian Gjergj, the Ottomans would have invaded western Europe. As the Vatican put it, Gjergj was the soldier of Christ!

Anonymous said...

u Macedonians and serbs are fucking idiots, ok instead of thank god for the Albanians that saved your religion u start shit with them, had it not been for the Albanians holding back the turks ur Armies wud have been killed so quickly cuz we all know that slavs are not soldiers but corrupt monkeys, and any Albanian is a Albanian dont matter on the relgion So fuck all u serbs "macedonians" bulgarians, whatever slave is from Montenegro,a Religion is only a choice of faith, im a real ass nigga i undersand that shit Cuz im also American long live Albanians and Americans, A&A, oh and i almost forgot Fuck the Greeks too cuz no one really likes them