~ To read more about my Skopje adventures, click here~
In 2010, the Macedonian government announced they would be pumping 80 million euros into ‘Skopje 2014’, a project to improve the aesthetics of their capital city involving the construction or improvement of a number of buildings – among them government offices, museums and theatres – and an absolute tonne of statues. But from that 80 million euro estimate, the cost has spiralled, with conservative government reports claiming that just over 200 million euros had been spent so far, while NGOs suggest the real price is at least around the half a billion euro mark.
It was a controversial project even before the government reports were released. Considering the country’s high unemployment rate and the fact that over a quarter of citizens live in poverty, it seems a bad use of government funds. Others have claimed it’s a vanity project to rewrite national history, a dangerous nationalistic enterprise, or a statement of aggression against Greece – with whom the country is embroiled in a conflict over ownership of the label ‘Macedonia’ (in Greece, it’s the name of the northern part of the country).
In any case, the project has continued regardless of these objections. Here are just a few of the statues from this morally dubious venture that I saw while walking around the city (I would have taken more pictures, but my camera was filling up pretty fast…):