News 13 Apr 12

Opposition Seeks Court Ruling on Skopje Street Names

Opposition councillor says he will put government’s controversial bid to rename many streets in the Macedonian capital before the Constitutional Court.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Skopje | Photo by: Balkan Insight

Slobodan Bliznakovski, a member of Skopje city council from the small opposition VMRO-People’s Party, says he will put the plan before the Constitutional Court, citing various flaws.

“Not all ten Skopje municipalities were consulted for their opinions and even those that were had no proper discussion in their municipal councils,” Bliznakovski said.

Last month the ruling centre-right VMRO-DPMNE party of Nikola Gruevski and its ethnic Albanian partner, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI announced the proposal.

The first batch of some 300 new street names has already obtained initial approval from Skopje’s city council on which the ruling parties have majority. Central government has also given a green light and sent the proposal back to the city for a final approval next week.

The first attempt to rename the streets in 20 years since Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia has been controversial from the start, with critics claiming the ruling parties were aiming intentionally to erase the past.

The association of WW2 veterans, wartime partisans who fought against Nazi occupation, are particularly against the inclusion on the list of 19th and 20th-century nationalists who in the Communist era were denounced as reactionary servants of foreign interests.

Such figures include Todor Aleksandrov and Vanco Mihajlov, members of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, VMRO, the organisation that fought for Macedonia’s independence from Ottoman rule but which was at times linked to Bulgaria.

Both were previously considered too pro-Bulgarian in their views and thus undeserving of hero status.

If the bid passes the capital will also get its first batch of streets renamed after Albanian heroes.

Streets named after the 15th-century Albanian warrior George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, the writer Ismail Kadare, former Albanian Prime Minister Hasan Prishtina and the 19th-century Albanian revolutionary Dervish Cara are some of the proposals.

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