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23 Jan 09

Macedonia Discovers "Unknown Europeans"

A new photo exhibit dubbed “Unknown Europeans” is introducing Macedonians to some of the smallest minorities in Europe.

Sephardim from Bosnia-Herzegovina,  Albanian-speaking Arbereshe from Italy, the Slavonic Sorbs in Germany, the Aromunians or Vlachs in Macedonia, the Gottsheers in Slovenia, and the Degesi in Slovakia are all included in the exhibit, which kicked off on Thursday evening in Skopje's City Museum..

The show features evocative landscape photographs and charming personal portraits of people whose personal and ethnic histories are little known to the rest of the old continent.

The photos by Austrian photographer Kurt Kaindl are accompanied by short introductory profiles on each minority by the writer Karl - Markus Gauss.

“Although these minorities never aspired to creating their own state, through preservation of their own distinct cultural identities they proved the richness of cultural diversities in Europe”, Gauss told local media.

The two Austrians spent years visiting homes, interviewed minorities' cultural and political representatives and documented their particular ways of life. Many of these people today continue to struggle for their national survival, the authors say.

The event, which also featured a Vlach male choir, was opened by the Austrian Ambassador to Macedonia, Alois Kraut and by the head of the Vlach Community in Macedonia, Nikola Babovski.

(Reporting by Sinisa-Jakov Marusic)

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