A new, unexpected party is now joining the debate over what to do with the statues and monumental buildings that have adorned the Macedonian capital of Skopje since 2014. The objections of the Greeks, who believed the Macedonians were hijacking the history of their southern neighbors with their statues and fake facades, are not new. The criticism of architects, designers, and artists, who see the gaudy ornament as nothing more than distorted kitsch, is well known. But now the Vatican believes that a monument to the Catholic newborn Mother Teresa, of Albanian descent who was born in Skopje, should be completed according to plan.
This desire was conveyed by the Holy See in May during a visit to the Vatican by the Macedonian foreign minister, according to a letter he sent to the mayor of Skopje Center sub-municipal. The €5.5 million monument, whose construction began in 2015, is still incomplete. Mayor Sasa Bogdanovic believes it should be demolished entirely, as the massive mayor blocks access to the main square via a main pedestrian street. We do not believe that this monument should be built on that site. Not because we do not realize its importance, or the legacy of Mother Teresa, but because it is located in the middle of a street.” The Ministry of Culture must now make a decision.
The lack of clarity on what to do with the monument is not an isolated incident. More than 700 million euros were applied in decorations in Skopje by the former government of less wealthy North Macedonia. When he took office in 2017, Prime Minister Zoran Zeev said he would undo it, without specifying when that would happen. Two years ago, as a privilege for Athens, banners were placed next to statues of characters and scenes from antiquity, making it clear that they were in fact related to Greek history. Without exception, the interpretation was scratched or distorted within a day. Nothing else happened. All the decorations are still there – that is, as long as they don’t disintegrate on their own.
The materials used are so cheap and the construction is so poor in some places that the decay has taken place quickly and has developed greatly in the meantime. news portal Balkan Insight This week I posted a rich collection of rotting columns, broken tiles, statues separated from their bases, columns showing large cracks, and bits of stone falling from a fountain. Part of the new facade of the National Theatre has fallen, clearly showing the materials used: gypsum board on the outside, and Styrofoam on the inside. As the Macedonians think about what to do with the decorations, the problem may solve itself.
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