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News 09 Dec 11

Macedonia’s Capital Project Costs 250m Euro

Macedonia has so far spent almost a quarter of a billion euros on redesigning the capital in neo-classical and baroque style, media claim.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Skopje

The piece de resistance of the project in the statue of Alexander the Great | Photo by: Balkan Insight

Macedonian media claim the government has spent €250 million on the Skopke 2014 project.

If true, it is much more than the figure of €80 million that Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski mentioned in 2010 when the government project was unveiled.

Drawing on publically available data on various procurements related to the project scattered throughout various ministries and other institutions, the Alfa TV station has come up with a total figure of €235.4 million worth of contracts.

According to its calculations, the government Service for General and Common Procurements has so far spent the most money on “Skopje 2014” - some €65 million.
 
The service is financing the construction of new office space across the city centre, including the new Foreign Ministry that is near completion.

The Ministry of Culture is the second biggest investor with €53 million, which it has spent on a National Theatre, a 21-metre-high arch called "Macedonia", the recently opened Museum of the Macedonian Struggle and the new building of the Macedonian Philharmonic.

The archeological museum [in the background] cost €32 million | Photo by: Balkan Insight

Skopje’s Centar municipality has invested €36 million on several grand monuments, fountains, a gazebo and two pedestrian bridges across the Vardar River.

The figure includes what many consider to be the pinnacle of the project, a more than 20-metre-high equestrian statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje’s central square.

The city of Skopje was more modest, spending only €19,500 million.
 
Most of the city's money went on new Classical style buildings for the Skopje administration that are under construction. The rest went on upgrading existing bridges and buildings in the central area in order to match Skopje’s new outlook.

The Ministry of Culture was unable to confirm whether the figure published in the media corresponds with its calculations but said it will check.

“We have four big projects linked with Skopje 2014. All contracts are in line with the law on public procurements and are available in the public procurements bureau,” the ministry told Balkan Insight on Friday.

The city of Skopje and Skopje's Centar municipality also said they would check. Balkan Insight was unable to reach government's procurements service.

With €32 million spent so far, the new joint home of the archeological museum, the constitutional court and the state archive, is so far the most expensive building of the project.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry in central Skopje | Photo by: Balkan Insight

The money here has been spent on construction, interior design, light effects and furniture for the building that is due to be completed in mid-2012.

The building of the National Theater, designed to look like the original, which crumbled during the 1963 Skopje earthquake, but almost double in size, cost 27 million.
 
Since it was unveiled the revamp project has attracted much controversy.

It originally included some 20 new buildings and numerous statues, drawing inspiration from the Classical antiquity and almost exclusively concentrated in a one-kilometer radius around the city centre. But it has been significantly expanded with new features over time.
 
One of the latest controversial additions is the planned construction of a giant ferris wheel with an overview of the central area.
 
Earlier this month the government and the city launched the construction of the new €10 million worth building of the Skopje water supply company, also designed in Classical style.

The Ministry of Transport last week announced its plans for expansion and revamp of its building to fit the project while the government said it will build a new joint home for the Drama academy and ten other institutions.

Supporters of the project say it will shake up the image of a city blighted by decades of dreary Socialist architecture and simple neglect. They say the project will restore a missing sense of national pride, and create a more metropolitan atmosphere.

Cornerstone laying ceremony for the building of the water supply company | Photo by: City of Skopje

Critics complain about the cost of the job and the transparency of the contracts given to the architects and designers. Some feel a country as poor as Macedonia should spend its meager resources more prudently.

Despite many journalists' attempts, the government has remained secretive about the total cost for the project, giving only an initial vague estimate of €80 million. Rhe opposition maintains the bill at the end will be more like €500 million.

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Skopje 2014: The new face of Macedonia, updated

The government-funded revamp of the Macedonian capital, called Skopje 2014, aims to give the city a more impressive and ‘historic’ appearance. See new images in this updated gallery.