ISSN 2330-717X

Riverside Galleon Plan Puts Wind Up Macedonians


By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Plan to place a number of old-style wooden sailing ships in the middle of the capital on the Vardar river looks likely to stir fresh divisions in Skopje.

Plans to put four imitation old-world ships in the middle of the river Vardar in Skopje have left some Macedonians feeling queasy.

The boats are to be used as restaurants and cafes – but some say they will turn the city centre into a “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme park.

According to a recently approved design, at least two of the replicas will resemble galleons – multi-decked wooden sailing ships dating primarily from the 16th to 18th centuries.

They are to be moored in the heart of the city, near Skopje’s landmark Stone Bridge and near many of the newly erected buildings that form part of the “Skopje 2014” government revamp of the capital.

“I like it and am eager to see them built,” Mayor Koce Trajanovski said recently.

Mayor Trajanovski also said he was convinced that Skopje residents would all get to like the ships once they were built.

Meanwhile, rumbles of discontent dominate many social forums.

“The idea of putting fake ships in the middle of the centre is the height of bad taste,” fulminated “Kultuzin”, a member of the forum.

Another member of the same forum, signed as Gragjanin, said such phenomena surely belonged in an amusement park rather than in the river.

According to plans, the replicas will be built by a concessionary firm that has already been chosen. The concession will last 10 years and the firm will pay about 1,200 euros monthly rent for each ship.

Last year some people complained when the city hall opened a beach on the Vardar in front of the Museum of Macedonian Struggle and the National Theatre.

Reactions are also divided over plans to construct a big Ferris wheel on top of a pedestrian bridge in the city centre.

The same goes for the planting of willow trees on two artificial islands being built in the middle of the river near the new Foreign Ministry building.

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The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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