The historical structure of the city of Tirana – notes from the fieldwork

Text: Agata Rogos

Architecture never creates a neutral and harmless unity, but rather, produces an integral structure of political symbols, which were used in Albania as mechanisms for the de-Ottomanization of urban space, which in turn, were focused on the process of state-building and symbolic space. In the time of Ahmet Zogu, one might discuss the existence of two parallel city centers, which reflected symbolic changes in the Ottoman city structure. One marker of this iconographic transformation was the oriental clock-tower (Sahaat Kulla) and its surroundings, which in fascist urban planning had been marginalized, as Italian architects focused on new, modern, European city planning. In the successive communist narration another element of the “old” city structure disappeared – the old market place, which along with the clock tower and Et’hem Bey mosque constituted the most important elements of the oriental city structure. With modern city planning, the main emphasis was placed on the city’s main axis and Skënderbeg Square, which became a place for political rituals during the communist period.

The crucial changes of the urban structure came along with the proclamation of Albanian capital that was initiated in 1920, as provisional, and reasserted in 1925 as official decision of National Assembly. Even though other towns such as Shkodra, Durrës, Vlora or Korça were argued by some groups to be more appropriate for the capital, according to their historic, cultural or economic significance, it was Tirana that was eventually chosen as a main center. The choice was made according to two reasons: geographical position of the city – close to the port of Durrës and not immediately on the border and besides it was one of the few Albanian cities without foreign armies stationed there. Another advantage of choosing Tirana, as capital was its open plain surrounding that could meet the needs of new administrative and governmental buildings and common civic space serving for power rituals, manifestations and gatherings.

As in other south-eastern European post-Ottoman cities and capitals, also Tirana in the early 20th century was being transformed from the oriental city into modern and Europeanized city, which was a parallel process to the national movements of the late 19th and beginning of the 20th century and establishment of national states.

A significant change in the urban structure of Tirana was implemented with a development of the master plan by noted Italian architect Armando Brasini (1925) that expected the construction of a new center with administrative institutions, the parliament and the state government and foremost with a major open with a boulevard in a north-south direction dividing the new town from its other historical and spatial layers. Nevertheless Brasini’s plan was ambitious and most of it was never realized, but the north-south axis has remained central to all urban plans of the city.

The main urban development of Tirana came along with the proclamation of Albania as a ‘democratic, constitutional and heritable monarchy’ in 1928. Since the early 1930s the biggest effort of constructing Tirana’s urban structure was on creating the representative space including institutional edifices as it was designed in the project proposed by Brasini with the main north-south axis crowned with a monumental square that was named for Gjergj Katriot Skënderbeg. The references to symbolic continuation of power of Ahmet Zog I, who claimed to be a relative of Albanian prince suggested legitimacy of the Albanian nation-state. However project proposed by Brasini seemed to be far more monumental and failed to accommodate the old (oriental) city structure with Et’hem-bey mosque and the Clock Tower.

The regulatory plan dated on 1929-1930 revised the previous master plan by increasing the north-south boulevard up to the future stadium was expected to be built north of the old bazaar. The northern part of the boulevard up to Skënderbeg Square was named after King Zog I and was 40 meters wide, whereas the southern part was called the New Boulevard (later renamed as after Stalin).

Yet in 1942 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Albania’s independence, a new Freedom monument with a characteristic fascist style was erected in the main city square. In photographs discovered by Valter Gjoni (2012), one can see from a banner slogan “Rroftë Shqipnija e madhe. Rroftë populli” (Long live Great Albania. Long live the nation) that this monument was based on the idea of Great Albania. As a consequence, this image proves that the fascist regime in Albania was supportive of the act of liberation of Albania performed by Ismail Qemaili in Vlora (1912) and the incorporation of the Albanian territories along with Kosovo and Çamëria. Aesthetic transformations, in this case under the pressure of political and ideological changes, included marking characteristics of identity in the context of national ideology, which will be shown based on the example of a statue of Stalin, which stood on the main square of Tirana in 1951–1968.

In a manner parallel to every Soviet city, the capital of Albania and other smaller cities and towns in the country were constructed as artifacts of socialism based on the concentric structure of the main open public space with a symbol of/monument to the leader in its central position. This type of construction was intended to provide a location for political performances and rituals – actions that would consolidate the Party’s or leader’s authority. The space was defined by two important elements: constative (official) and performative (enacted), which in turn led to a distinction between the masses and the political elites.

General features of the new representation system implemented by Socialist-Realist aesthetics will be crucial also in Albanian context and will enable the overall understanding of the construction of New Space. It is essential to say that these systems of representation have reshaped the very nature of the planning profession. The new form of architecture and art was about to transmit or translate states ideas and prioritize the image of the leader and state apparatus. In a way Stalin, as a creator of the New Order, had begun to extend a homogenous structure over all cities, firstly in Soviet Union and later in other socialist republics of the Communist Block, which were being designed in a more or less parallel way. This kind of ideological and aesthetic constructs creating specified system of representation transposed Soviet Union and its fraternal states as a single land, characterized by the spatial unity, defined by aesthetic references and continuity over boundless territory. Thus, the new style clearly served to represent certain ideological model of power that used the landscape as a stage of projection of ideological constructs.

By analyzing different spatial structures of Socialist Realism it might be observed that cities were adopting the same functional model that was based on different societal units defined as residential quarters. Each one of them was designed to provide access for every resident to necessary services of social living. In the central part of the spatial structures – city center was created a kind of administrative, social and political hierarchy embodied with the most important institutions and with a very important element of the political discourse, which was the symbolic component constituted as an artifact (monument).

Another important feature in the new urban planning is openness and exposition to wide-angled light, creating the space for monumental design, with broad streets and a transparent communication system. That kind of planning imposed the images of the bright future that filled the everyday with a sense of socialism.

As can be seen two different city-planning models adjusted in Tirana – Fascist and Soviet – are very similar according to exposition of space and creation of a representative space. The new structure and new indicators of city planning and the perception of public space in general were implemented according to the Stalinist iconographic vision.

The Stalinist city that emerged on Albanian soil was built upon socio-material and political forces and was totally controlled by political actors, both internal and external. This could be easily referred to as a theatrical construct consisting of stage and audience, with state architects and state artists performing the function of deaf script-writers, caught between two different translations: the visuality of the text that was transmitted through the artifacts of socialism and the Soviet narrative of socialism – the constative and performative aspects of the space.

The (hidden) face of Macedonia

The (hidden) face of Macedonia

Luca Paggiaro

How does Macedonia want to introduce itself to their visitors? What does the Southeast European country want them to show and to hide? A personal account of my journey(s) around Macedonia

That’s (allegedly) Macedonia, and nothing else

An “model trip” to Macedonia has to start from the magnificent palaces and monuments of Skopje, the capital city. Macedonia Square (see picture 1), the very town centre, tells the tourists the whole national history with a bunch of statues: the ancient Alexander the Great – located in the middle – dominates over all, while the modern Macedonian independence heroes Dame Gruev and Gotse Delchev overlook the entrance of the Stone Bridge over the central river Vardar and the medieval Tsar Samuil of Bulgaria marks the begin of Macedonia Street, the main city pedestrian zone. Philipp II faces his son Alexander from the other side of the Vardar, whose bank is characterized by shiny neoclassical buildings: the biggest among them is the Museum of Archaeology (see picture 2), surrounded by other museums, government palaces and the massive National Theatre. The monumental downtown includes also Skanderbeg Square (see picture 3), a vast place dedicated to the hero of all Albanians, who represent a significant ethnic minority in Macedonia.

The ideal journey throughout the former Yugoslav republic continues to Ohrid, one of the most impressive city of the Balkan: according to the Ottoman globetrotter Evliya Çelebi, who visited it in 17th century, the town used to have 365 churches, one for each day of the year. Not all survived up to the present, but the remaining are still well worth seeing: above all the marvellous Church of Saint John at Kaneo (see picture 4), built on a cliff which offers the tourists a breath-taking view over the lake. Ohrid has been known for its literary school besides,  established in 886 by Saint Clement – a student of Cyril and Methodius – and renowned for having preserved the Glagolitic script until the 12th century.

As already seen on Skanderbeg Square, in Macedonia do not live only Macedonian-speaking Christians, but also Albanian-speaking Muslims. The trip has therefore to include their cultural centre, the city of Tetovo: visitors are here welcomed by the impressive 15th century Šarena Džamija (Macedonian for “Painted Mosque”) (see picture 5), at the same time a symbol of the former Ottoman rule in Macedonia.

The ideal journey could end here, having portrayed by the way an “ideal image” of the small Balkan republic: a shiny capital city adorned with modern Neoclassical palaces, an ancient town displaying the glorious past of the nation and, at last, a symbolic centre for the main ethnic minority of the country. An ideal portrait maybe suitable for a reductive flyer of the National Tourist Board, or for a simplifying Wikipedia article, but definitely not for a research paper, and even not for this modest article. Hence, the ideal journey has to stop, and a real one has to begin.

That is Macedonia (too)

Let’s return to Skopje and follow the same route through the colossal monuments of the city centre, although this time guided by a representative of the NGO “Ploštad Sloboda” (Macedonian for “Freedom Square”). Let’s discover therefore that this gigantic project called “Skopje 2014” has been a scandalous waste of money: over 670 million euros for having redecorated an area of just 1 km2, participation neither of the citizens nor of the national parliament in all decision-making processes, money laundering in the construction works and use of lowest-quality building materials (some facades are even flammable). That should be enough to boycott the entire showy complex and to take refuge in the truly magnificent Old Bazaar (see picture 6) admiring the numerous mosques, hammams and caravanserais, precious legacy of the Ottoman rule.

Then let’s return again to Tetovo, the capital of the Albanians in Macedonia, and reach the western periphery of the town: the very well conserved Arabati Baba Teḱe (see picture 7) would be rarely mentioned in a city’s guidebook, which rather prefers to direct the few tourists to the Painted Mosque. And it is really a pity considering that Dervish Muttalib – the only one serving in this 18th century compound for spiritual retreat –  would like to show the visitors the beautiful flowered lawns and wooden pavilions. The reason for this is the burning dispute over the property of the tekke between the Bektashi order, which founded it 500 years ago, and the Islamic Community of Macedonia, which regards the Bektashis as “heretics”: in August 2002 the situation escalated since a group of armed Wahhabi Muslims seized control of a large part of the complex, reclaiming it as a mosque – although it has never functioned as a such – and harassing its visitors.

Let’s finally abandon any touristic route and get acquainted with the third-largest ethnic minority of Macedonia: the Turks. Actually some Turkish flags have already been visible in Skopje’s Old Bazaar and also in the Baba Teḱe of Tetovo, but in Centar Župa – a small village situated near the city of Debar – Turks constitute a sweeping 80 percent majority: no surprise then that a majestic statue to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (see picture 8) towers on the central square and that the neighbouring village of Kodžadžik is known for having been the birthplace of Atatürk’s parents. And even though the official languages are Turkish, Macedonian and Albanian – all three taught at school – it’s not unusual to hear local people speaking fluently German or Italian, as much of the population emigrated to Western Europe and return only during the summer holidays.

The real journey could still continue, since this small country includes even more ethnic, linguistic and religious communities, disregarding its innumerable natural and cultural treasures. Macedonia is in the heart of the Balkans and reflects in its own territory all the contradictions of the Balkans, but primarily two: the rich ethnic variety and the poor nationalistic temptations. All in a wonderful landscape.

The (hidden) face of Macedonia

The (hidden) face of Macedonia

Luca Paggiaro

How does Macedonia want to introduce itself to their visitors? What does the Southeast European country want them to show and to hide? A personal account of my journey(s) around Macedonia

That’s (allegedly) Macedonia, and nothing else

An “model trip” to Macedonia has to start from the magnificent palaces and monuments of Skopje, the capital city. Macedonia Square (see picture 1), the very town centre, tells the tourists the whole national history with a bunch of statues: the ancient Alexander the Great – located in the middle – dominates over all, while the modern Macedonian independence heroes Dame Gruev and Gotse Delchev overlook the entrance of the Stone Bridge over the central river Vardar and the medieval Tsar Samuil of Bulgaria marks the begin of Macedonia Street, the main city pedestrian zone. Philipp II faces his son Alexander from the other side of the Vardar, whose bank is characterized by shiny neoclassical buildings: the biggest among them is the Museum of Archaeology (see picture 2), surrounded by other museums, government palaces and the massive National Theatre. The monumental downtown includes also Skanderbeg Square (see picture 3), a vast place dedicated to the hero of all Albanians, who represent a significant ethnic minority in Macedonia.

The ideal journey throughout the former Yugoslav republic continues to Ohrid, one of the most impressive city of the Balkan: according to the Ottoman globetrotter Evliya Çelebi, who visited it in 17th century, the town used to have 365 churches, one for each day of the year. Not all survived up to the present, but the remaining are still well worth seeing: above all the marvellous Church of Saint John at Kaneo (see picture 4), built on a cliff which offers the tourists a breath-taking view over the lake. Ohrid has been known for its literary school besides,  established in 886 by Saint Clement – a student of Cyril and Methodius – and renowned for having preserved the Glagolitic script until the 12th century.

As already seen on Skanderbeg Square, in Macedonia do not live only Macedonian-speaking Christians, but also Albanian-speaking Muslims. The trip has therefore to include their cultural centre, the city of Tetovo: visitors are here welcomed by the impressive 15th century Šarena Džamija (Macedonian for “Painted Mosque”) (see picture 5), at the same time a symbol of the former Ottoman rule in Macedonia.

The ideal journey could end here, having portrayed by the way an “ideal image” of the small Balkan republic: a shiny capital city adorned with modern Neoclassical palaces, an ancient town displaying the glorious past of the nation and, at last, a symbolic centre for the main ethnic minority of the country. An ideal portrait maybe suitable for a reductive flyer of the National Tourist Board, or for a simplifying Wikipedia article, but definitely not for a research paper, and even not for this modest article. Hence, the ideal journey has to stop, and a real one has to begin.

That is Macedonia (too)

Let’s return to Skopje and follow the same route through the colossal monuments of the city centre, although this time guided by a representative of the NGO “Ploštad Sloboda” (Macedonian for “Freedom Square”). Let’s discover therefore that this gigantic project called “Skopje 2014” has been a scandalous waste of money: over 670 million euros for having redecorated an area of just 1 km2, participation neither of the citizens nor of the national parliament in all decision-making processes, money laundering in the construction works and use of lowest-quality building materials (some facades are even flammable). That should be enough to boycott the entire showy complex and to take refuge in the truly magnificent Old Bazaar (see picture 6) admiring the numerous mosques, hammams and caravanserais, precious legacy of the Ottoman rule.

Then let’s return again to Tetovo, the capital of the Albanians in Macedonia, and reach the western periphery of the town: the very well conserved Arabati Baba Teḱe (see picture 7) would be rarely mentioned in a city’s guidebook, which rather prefers to direct the few tourists to the Painted Mosque. And it is really a pity considering that Dervish Muttalib – the only one serving in this 18th century compound for spiritual retreat –  would like to show the visitors the beautiful flowered lawns and wooden pavilions. The reason for this is the burning dispute over the property of the tekke between the Bektashi order, which founded it 500 years ago, and the Islamic Community of Macedonia, which regards the Bektashis as “heretics”: in August 2002 the situation escalated since a group of armed Wahhabi Muslims seized control of a large part of the complex, reclaiming it as a mosque – although it has never functioned as a such – and harassing its visitors.

Let’s finally abandon any touristic route and get acquainted with the third-largest ethnic minority of Macedonia: the Turks. Actually some Turkish flags have already been visible in Skopje’s Old Bazaar and also in the Baba Teḱe of Tetovo, but in Centar Župa – a small village situated near the city of Debar – Turks constitute a sweeping 80 percent majority: no surprise then that a majestic statue to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (see picture 8) towers on the central square and that the neighbouring village of Kodžadžik is known for having been the birthplace of Atatürk’s parents. And even though the official languages are Turkish, Macedonian and Albanian – all three taught at school – it’s not unusual to hear local people speaking fluently German or Italian, as much of the population emigrated to Western Europe and return only during the summer holidays.

The real journey could still continue, since this small country includes even more ethnic, linguistic and religious communities, disregarding its innumerable natural and cultural treasures. Macedonia is in the heart of the Balkans and reflects in its own territory all the contradictions of the Balkans, but primarily two: the rich ethnic variety and the poor nationalistic temptations. All in a wonderful landscape.

The (hidden) face of Macedonia

The (hidden) face of Macedonia

Luca Paggiaro

How does Macedonia want to introduce itself to their visitors? What does the Southeast European country want them to show and to hide? A personal account of my journey(s) around Macedonia

That’s (allegedly) Macedonia, and nothing else

An “model trip” to Macedonia has to start from the magnificent palaces and monuments of Skopje, the capital city. Macedonia Square (see picture 1), the very town centre, tells the tourists the whole national history with a bunch of statues: the ancient Alexander the Great – located in the middle – dominates over all, while the modern Macedonian independence heroes Dame Gruev and Gotse Delchev overlook the entrance of the Stone Bridge over the central river Vardar and the medieval Tsar Samuil of Bulgaria marks the begin of Macedonia Street, the main city pedestrian zone. Philipp II faces his son Alexander from the other side of the Vardar, whose bank is characterized by shiny neoclassical buildings: the biggest among them is the Museum of Archaeology (see picture 2), surrounded by other museums, government palaces and the massive National Theatre. The monumental downtown includes also Skanderbeg Square (see picture 3), a vast place dedicated to the hero of all Albanians, who represent a significant ethnic minority in Macedonia.

The ideal journey throughout the former Yugoslav republic continues to Ohrid, one of the most impressive city of the Balkan: according to the Ottoman globetrotter Evliya Çelebi, who visited it in 17th century, the town used to have 365 churches, one for each day of the year. Not all survived up to the present, but the remaining are still well worth seeing: above all the marvellous Church of Saint John at Kaneo (see picture 4), built on a cliff which offers the tourists a breath-taking view over the lake. Ohrid has been known for its literary school besides,  established in 886 by Saint Clement – a student of Cyril and Methodius – and renowned for having preserved the Glagolitic script until the 12th century.

As already seen on Skanderbeg Square, in Macedonia do not live only Macedonian-speaking Christians, but also Albanian-speaking Muslims. The trip has therefore to include their cultural centre, the city of Tetovo: visitors are here welcomed by the impressive 15th century Šarena Džamija (Macedonian for “Painted Mosque”) (see picture 5), at the same time a symbol of the former Ottoman rule in Macedonia.

The ideal journey could end here, having portrayed by the way an “ideal image” of the small Balkan republic: a shiny capital city adorned with modern Neoclassical palaces, an ancient town displaying the glorious past of the nation and, at last, a symbolic centre for the main ethnic minority of the country. An ideal portrait maybe suitable for a reductive flyer of the National Tourist Board, or for a simplifying Wikipedia article, but definitely not for a research paper, and even not for this modest article. Hence, the ideal journey has to stop, and a real one has to begin.

That is Macedonia (too)

Let’s return to Skopje and follow the same route through the colossal monuments of the city centre, although this time guided by a representative of the NGO “Ploštad Sloboda” (Macedonian for “Freedom Square”). Let’s discover therefore that this gigantic project called “Skopje 2014” has been a scandalous waste of money: over 670 million euros for having redecorated an area of just 1 km2, participation neither of the citizens nor of the national parliament in all decision-making processes, money laundering in the construction works and use of lowest-quality building materials (some facades are even flammable). That should be enough to boycott the entire showy complex and to take refuge in the truly magnificent Old Bazaar (see picture 6) admiring the numerous mosques, hammams and caravanserais, precious legacy of the Ottoman rule.

Then let’s return again to Tetovo, the capital of the Albanians in Macedonia, and reach the western periphery of the town: the very well conserved Arabati Baba Teḱe (see picture 7) would be rarely mentioned in a city’s guidebook, which rather prefers to direct the few tourists to the Painted Mosque. And it is really a pity considering that Dervish Muttalib – the only one serving in this 18th century compound for spiritual retreat –  would like to show the visitors the beautiful flowered lawns and wooden pavilions. The reason for this is the burning dispute over the property of the tekke between the Bektashi order, which founded it 500 years ago, and the Islamic Community of Macedonia, which regards the Bektashis as “heretics”: in August 2002 the situation escalated since a group of armed Wahhabi Muslims seized control of a large part of the complex, reclaiming it as a mosque – although it has never functioned as a such – and harassing its visitors.

Let’s finally abandon any touristic route and get acquainted with the third-largest ethnic minority of Macedonia: the Turks. Actually some Turkish flags have already been visible in Skopje’s Old Bazaar and also in the Baba Teḱe of Tetovo, but in Centar Župa – a small village situated near the city of Debar – Turks constitute a sweeping 80 percent majority: no surprise then that a majestic statue to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (see picture 8) towers on the central square and that the neighbouring village of Kodžadžik is known for having been the birthplace of Atatürk’s parents. And even though the official languages are Turkish, Macedonian and Albanian – all three taught at school – it’s not unusual to hear local people speaking fluently German or Italian, as much of the population emigrated to Western Europe and return only during the summer holidays.

The real journey could still continue, since this small country includes even more ethnic, linguistic and religious communities, disregarding its innumerable natural and cultural treasures. Macedonia is in the heart of the Balkans and reflects in its own territory all the contradictions of the Balkans, but primarily two: the rich ethnic variety and the poor nationalistic temptations. All in a wonderful landscape.

Skopje 2014

„Skopje 2014“ und die verfehlte Identitätspolitik – eine Kritik

Sandra Türk

Als am 26. Juli 1963 die Erde in Skopje bebte und die Bahnhofsuhr um 5:17h stehen blieb, ahnte noch niemand, wie über 50 Jahre später das Zentrum der Stadt einmal aussehen würde. Ein ca. 850 Millionen Euro teures Architekturprogramm sollte der Stadt eine neue imperialistisch-klassizistische Erscheinung geben, doch offen diskutiert oder gar angekündigt wurde dieses Vorhaben nicht. Die NGO “Плоштад Слобода” (Pložtad Sloboda, dt. Platz der Freiheit) hat sich mit ihrer Kampagne „Skopje 2014 uncovered“ zum Ziel gesetzt, Licht ins Dunkel dieses absurden Vorhabens zu bringen und der Öffentlichkeit zu beweisen, dass unter dem Deckmantel eines zentral gesteuerten Konjunkturprogramms öffentliche Gelder an regierungsnahe Unternehmen flossen, die mit diesem Bauvorhaben beauftragt wurden.

Nationales Prestigebedürfnis

Die Hauptstadt Mazedoniens erlebt eine institutionell aufgezwungene Renaissance: 100 vermeintliche Helden-Skulpturen, 34 über-ladene Monumente und 27 Gebäude mit aufgehübschter Vorhangfassade im neoklassizistischen und neo-barocken Stil sollen den neuen Nationalismus und eine starke, mazedonische Identität reflektieren. Solch überdimensionierte pietätlose Architektur, die man bisher nur aus ostasiatischen Autokratien oder futuristischen Wüstenoasen kennt, findet man nun auch mitten auf dem Balkan – in drittklassiger Bauqualität, denn die Gipskartonfassaden aus leicht entzündlichen Materialien bedürfen nachweislich der brandschutztechnischen Überarbeitung. Neue Brücken mit imperialistisch anmutenden Laternen verbinden die beiden Ufer des Vardar-Flusses, der das postsozialistische – von Manuel Andrack in einem ZEIT-Artikel auch als „Post-Beben-Architektur des Japaners Kenzo Tange“ bezeichnete – orthodoxe Zentrum von der mittelalterlichen, osmanisch geprägten Altstadt trennt. Doch diese Brücken dienen nicht etwa dem Zweck, die beiden Stadtteile auf vielfache Wege zu verbinden. Es wurde nicht versäumt, am muslimischen Ufer neue Gebäude zu erschaffen – mit einer Gebäudehöhe, die jegliche Sicht auf das muslimische Erbe versperrt. Dieses Erbe, das historisch nicht dementiert werden kann, soll perspektivisch den Bewohnern und seinen Besuchern unterschlagen werden.

Ethnopolitische Spannungen

Nur knapp 65% der Bevölkerung Mazedoniens sind slawo-mazedonischer Herkunft, knapp ein Drittel ist ethnisch betrachtet albanisch. Aber Skopje besteht auf seine christliche Kultur, die mit dem überdimensionierten „Mileniumski Krst“, dem Kreuz der Jahrtausendwende, auf seinem Hausberg Vodno verdeutlicht werden soll, ein weiteres Symbol einer orthodoxenmuslimischen Segregation. Für eine ethnisch-albanische Kultur hingegen ist kein Platz. Nur die muslimische Ordensschwester und Friedensnobelpreisträgerin Mutter Teresa passt ins Bild, ihr wurde ebenfalls eine Gedenkstätte auf der Ulica Makedonija gewidmet – ein Kassenschlager und Highlight bei jeder Stadtführung. Was der Vollblutmazedonier sicher gerne verschweigt oder vielleicht gar nicht weiß: das Ohrid-Abkommen aus 2001 beinhaltet den Grundsatz der Nichtdiskriminierung, dennoch ist Albanisch immer noch nicht als zweite Amtssprache anerkannt worden und Mitspracherechte werden versagt. Die albanische Teilhabe hat zwar zugenommen, nicht aber die Integration. Die ethnische Segregation nimmt durch das westliche, italo-orientierte Mutterland Albanien zu, was nicht zuletzt auch der historischen und geografischen Lage geschuldet ist.

Die Rebellion der jungen Generation

Und als wäre das pseudo-monumentale refurbishment nicht genug, fielen auch 12 Parks und 35% der Bäume Skopjes – viele davon bis zu 70 Jahre alt – der Renovierung zum Opfer und bescherten der Stadt zugleich eine erhöhte Luftverschmutzung. All das führte dazu, dass ein Teil der vermeintlichen Nachkommenschaft des antiken Makedonien und seinem Herrscher Alexander des Großen sich nicht beeindrucken ließ und dem Bauwahn ihr eigenes Denkmal setzte: in einer Revolte beschmissen aufgebrachte Bewohner und Studenten die frisch gestrichenen Bauwerke, „Skopje 2014“ fiel den Farbbomben zum Opfer. Auch diese Spuren werden nun unvermeidbar in die Geschichte der Stadt eingehen.

Der Halbmond steht höher

Mit „Skopje 2014“ wollte sich die nationalistische Regierungspartei unter Nikola Gruevski vom Sozialismus und dem architektonischen Erbe des Osmanisches Reiches trennen, ein verunsichertes Land, das als post-jugoslawische Nation verzweifelt eine neue, eigene Identität sucht. Griechenland blockiert aufgrund des Namensstreits weiterhin den EU- und NATO-Beitritt Mazedoniens, was unter Umständen ein wichtiger Schritt in Richtung politischer Ordnung und Stabilisierung für das Land bedeuten könnte. Der verbitterte Versuch, das nationale Selbstgefühl mit Gipskarton zu untermauern kann aus eurozentrischer Sicht lächerlich wirken, es ist aber auch gefährlich. Denn solange auf dem Balkan Gebäude und Kirchen errichtet werden mit dem Ziel, jedes Minarett zu überragen, wird der seidene Faden, an dem der empfindliche Frieden auf dem Balkan hängt, länger und länger, bis er schließlich zu reißen droht. Und dennoch, eines kann die Regierung nicht verhindern und zwar die immer wiederkehrende Mondsichel, die sich hoch über dem Vodno und seinem Kreuz erhebt. Denn selbst mit der höchsten Gipskarton-Platte ließe sich dieser nicht verdecken.

Weiterführende Informationen: http://skopje2014.prizma.birn.eu.com/en


WEITERE THEMEN

BUNK’ART – entering the dark past

Die Bektashi in Albanien und ihre Geschichte

Die Watchdog-Organisation Eco Guerilla

Fieldwork Šipkovica: Perceptions and group dynamics

Forgotten Spaces in border regions

Frauen auf dem Balkan

Interkulturalität und Mehrsprachigkeit in Albanien und Mazedonien

Mehrsprachigkeit innerhalb der einheimischen Bevölkerung Mazedoniens und Albaniens

Repräsentation von Mehrsprachigkeit in der Linguistic Landscape Mazedoniens

State Identities and Architecture in Albania and Macedonia

The (hidden) face of Macedonia

The inevitability of nationalism

The (post)Yugoslav legacy and everyday life in Macedonia and Albania

 


MEHR ORTE

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FieldTrip de

Skopje 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.

This was one of the most interesting experience during this fild trip. I had the chance to see how Skopje looks like after project Skopje 2014. Nikola, the tour guide explained the political system in Macedonia and how that affcts in everyday life of people.
Dunja, M.A. Student U Belgrade

Sehr interessante Führung und gute Hintergrundinformationen zu „Skopje 2014“. Ich bekam einen guten Eindruck, wie die „eigene ‘Geschichte“ geschrieben wird , anhand der großen Anzahl der Denkmäler, der Bauten und wie der Anspruch der VMRO-DPMNE durch dieses Vorhaben war, das „MazedonischOrthodoxe“ vom „Albanischen“ zu trennen.
Michal, M.A. Student HU Berlin

„Skopje 2014“ and failed identity politics – a critique

Sandra Türk

When the earthquake hit Skopje July 26th 1963 and the station clock stopped at 5.17am no one suspected what the town centre would look like over 50 years later. An architectural programme costing 850 million euros was supposed to give the town a new imperialistic and neo-classical look, without publicly discussing or even announcing this project. The NGO “Плоштад Слобода” (Pložtad Sloboda, engl. Freedom Square) has planned a campaign called „Skopje 2014 uncovered“ to bring light into this absurd scheme. They want to prove to the public that public money went to government-close enterprises which were commissioned for this project.

National need for prestige

The capital of Macedonia is undergoing an institutionally imposed renaissance: 100 sculptures of supposed heroes, 34 overloaded monuments and 27 buildings with pimped up facades in a neo-classical and neo-baroque style are supposed to reflect the new nationalism and a strong Macedonian identity. This kind of overdesigned and disrespectful architecture which is so far only known from eastern Asian autocracies or futuristic desert oases has now also arrived on the Balkans – with third class quality as the plasterboard facades made of flammable materials do not conform to fire safety requirements. New bridges with imperialistic lanterns connect the two banks of the Vardar River which separates the post socialist orthodox centre with the medieval Ottoman old town. But these bridges do not serve to unite the two parts of towns. The government didn’t fail to construct new buildings on the Muslim bank of the river, obstructing the view of the Muslim heritage. This heritage which cannot be denied historically is supposed to be withheld.

Ethnopolitical tension

Only 65% of Macedonia’s population are of Slavic-Macedonian origin, almost a third is ethnically Albanian. But Skopje insists on its Christian culture which is made clear by the over-dimensional Mileniumski Krst, the millennium cross on the mountain of Vodno, another symbol of Orthodox-Muslim segregation. There is no space for an ethnic Albanian culture however. Only the Muslim Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mother Teresa fits in, a memorial was dedicated to her on Ulica Makedonija – on of the highlights of every city tour. The Ohrid Agreement 2001 includes the principle of non-discrimination, however Albanian still is not recognised as a second official language. Albanian participation has grown but the integration has not. The ethnic segregation is increasing through the western Italian-oriented mother country Albania, due to the historic and geographical situation.

The rebellion of the younger generation

As if the pseudo-monumental refurbishment wasn’t enough, 12 parks and 35% of Skopje’s trees  – many up to 70 years old – were removed which has entailed a higher air pollution. All of this contributed to the fact that the assumed descendants of ancient Macedonia and its ruler Alexander the Great are not impressed and have made their own kind of memorial: in an insurgence the freshly painted buildings were attacked by enraged inhabitants and students, Skopje 2014 became the victim of colour bombs. These traces are now also an inevitable part of the town’s history.

The crescent moon stands higher

The nationalistic government party under Nikola Gruesvki wanted to part with socialism and the architectural heritage of the Ottoman Empire with the help of Skopje 2014, an insecure country that is looking for a new identity as a post-Yugoslav nation. Greece is blocking Macedonia’s joining the EU and NATO due to the naming dispute, although this could be an important step towards political order and stabilisation. The jaundiced attempt to confirm the national self-esteem with plasterboard seems ridiculous from a Eurocentric perspective, but it is also dangerous. Because as long as buildings and churches are erected with the aim of surmounting every minaret the silk thread which is holding the sensitive peace on the Balkans will become longer and longer until it threatens to tear. Nevertheless, the government cannot prevent the ever-returning crescent moon rising above Vodno Mountain and its cross. Because even the highest plasterboard panel will not be able to obscure it.