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News 23 Mar 15

Photo: Macedonia's Ruling Party Builds Itself White Palace

In just over a year-and-a-half, Macedonia's ruling VMRO DPMNE party has transformed its once modest headquarters into a magnificent complex.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

 

Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Macedonia's ruling party has built itself a grandiose new headquarters in Skopje.

The new, richly ornamented nine-storey building with a gateway and adjacent tower, from which the party flag can be seen flying, draws its inspiration from the architectural styles of Classical Antiquity, the preferred style of the nationalist party, and of the government-funded revamp of the capital, "Skopje 2014".

The ruling party said its new headquarters have been built by a private investor who plans to use part of the complex as a hotel. The construction price has not been revealed.

The soaring new building is a far cry from the party's former HQ, a humble three-storey building known as the Yellow House, which stood at the same location and served as the party HQ for some two decades.

While the finances of the new building are still a complete mystery, the same cannot be said of its surroundings.

These have been generously revamped by the City of Skopje, which is run by the VMRO DPMNE party.

The city renamed the small square in front of the new building "VMRO square", after which it spent 1.3 million euro on a new marble pavement and a tall marble fountain where a bronze lion is soon to be placed. The yellow lion on a red shield is the symbol of the ruling party.

In addition, the city last year splashed public funds on giving the facades of the surrounding buildings a faux-baroque makeover, which has yet to be done.

The old 'yellow whouse' of VMRO DPMNE | Photo by: Build.mk

The lavish and gleaming white appearance of the new and almost finished party HQ might be seen as embarrassing at a time when the party leadership is fending off claims that it is guilty of dark deeds.

The main opposition Social Democrats have in recent weeks released a series of recordings of wiretapped conversations between senior officials in the government in which they talk openly and casually of their involvement in rigging elections, court rulings and judicial appointments.

The opposition party has used the recordings to accuse Prime Minister and VMRO DPMNE head Nikola Gruevski of orcestrating the widespread surveilance of over 20,000 people and of running a corrupt regime.

The palatial white complex has also gone up at a time when the country's economic overall outlook is gloomy.

The unemployment rate in Macedonia stands at around 30 per cent, as does the poverty rate, according to UN standards. The average monthly salary is only about 300 euro.

Drawing inspiration from Classical Antiquity, the Skopje 2014 project meanwhile continues to change the face of the capital. It envisages the construction of over a hundred buildings and monuments, most of which have already been completed.

Its supporters said it will transform the image of a city blighted by decades of dreary Socialist architecture and neglect. They say it will restore a missing sense of national pride and create a more metropolitan atmosphere.

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

While the government initially said the project will cost 80 million euro, the opposition recently said that its real cost, calculated from contracts disclosed so far, is closer to 580 million.

 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
 Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

 

 

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