Skoplje 2014

Project Skopje 2014 and Societal Security Sector

 Dunja Stojanović

Societal Security is the term characteristic for academic thought known as Copenhagen School. The term was first introduced by Barry Buzan. That is one of the five security sectors in one society beside political, military, economic and environmental sector. Another theorist within’ the School, Ole Waever defines societal security as “the ability of society to persist in its essential character under changing conditions and possible or actual threats”.[1] These conditions are “conditions for evolution of traditional patterns of language, culture, association, etc.”[2]

Possible or actual societal threats that were recognized in Macedonia can be divided into external and internal. Conditions for evolution are related to identity which, in my opinion, Macedonia is still seeking for. Nation building project named Skopje 2014 was sort of
an attempt to reconstruct or to build national identity of Macedonia. External threats were seen in Macedonian neighbors who constantly question the existence of Macedonian nation and identity. Another challenges and threats are internal and related to Albanians in that country.

In 2006 when VMRO-DPMNE came to the power, Nikola Gruevski as leader in that time suggested the process of reconstructing identity that was known as antiquisation. That was the linkage between Macedonians of that time with ancient Macedonians. The figure that was used was Alexander the Great. Also in 2006, the Skopje Airport was renamed to his airport. After their second election win in 2008, the Stadium in Skopje was renamed to National Arena Philip II. Skopje 2014 project appeared as the biggest effort by then. It included reconstruction of buildings and setting the statues of Alexander the Great, Philip II, Emperor Samuel, Cyril and Methodius and the monument dedicated to the victims of ethnic conflict in 2001.

This project tried to strengthen societal security of Macedonians, but that can provoke insecurity for the other groups. That is called societal security dilemma. External, Bulgaria and Greece understood this project as stealing their own history. Bulgaria accepts the Macedonian country, but not the nation. Greece and Macedonia have bad relations from the first years of Macedonia’s independence, because of the country’s name. In 2008, Greece vetoed Macedonia’s admission for NATO membership. This project only highlighted their conflicts. Internal, Albanian people in Macedonia looked at the project as insulting and offensive. That led to their perception of exclusion. As an answer Albanians started up the project in which Skenderbeg Square was built and schools and streets in Albanian part of the Skopje were renamed.

Now, with new government and Zaev as prime minister, a desire to settle the dispute with Greece is recognized. Airport name is withdrawn. Also, Zaev is considered the prime minister who did something for Albanians’ rights at the moment. Because of that, Macedonians see themselves endangered.

This societal security dilemma in which one has more and other less security leaves Macedonia with no continuity and with relations within the state unstable.


[1] Waever, Buzan, and Kelstrup 1993, 23.

[2] Waever, Buzan, and Kelstrup 1993, 23.


Waever, Ole, Barry Buzan, and Morten Kelstrup. eds. 1993 Identity, Migration and the New Security Agenda in Europe. London: Palgrave Macmillan


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