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News 15 Dec 17

Russia Tweets ‘Solution’ to Macedonia Air Pollution

As Macedonia’s capital Skopje breaks air pollution records, Russia used a US call for ideas to curb the problem to promote its own proposal to build a natural gas pipeline in the Balkans.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
 
 Anti-pollution protest in Skopje. Archive photo: Anadolu

The Russian embassy in Skopje on Thursday reacted to a question posted on Twitter by its US counterpart about how to curb the air pollution problem in Macedonia’s capital by promoting Moscow's own energy scheme.

“#AirPollution in Skopje was so thick today, you could hardly see the embassy! What ideas do you have for cleaner air in #Macedonia?” the US Embassy in Skopje wrote on Twitter.

Shortly after this, the Russian embassy sent out a reply.

“As our friends from @usembassymkd are searching for ideas for the air pollution in Macedonia we want to help with a solution. #TurkishStream,” the Russians wrote.

 


Energy supply for the Balkans and Eastern Europe is an issue of long-standing discord between the US, European Union countries and Russia.

In July, after Russia agreed to pipe gas to Hungary, Bulgaria and Serbia via the Turkish Stream pipeline, US President Donald Trump urged Eastern Europeans to use US natural gas instead.

If completed, the Turkish Stream should run from Russia to Turkey and then cross Greece, Macedonia and Serbia to reach other Eastern European countries.  

As in the past few winter seasons, Skopje on Thursday and Friday woke up amid thick fog and record breaking air pollution.

Measuring stations in central Skopje on Thursday and Friday showed a concentration of 610 micrograms of cancer-causing PM 10 particles per cubic metre of air, which put Skopje among the most polluted cities in global pollution charts.

This was 12 times more than the maximum allowed level of 50 micrograms.

Macedonia’s new government, elected in May, and the new Skopje mayor who assumed office in October, have promised a set of measures to curb the pollution. 

One of them is boosting the gasification of households in the impoverished suburbs that use wood and even plastic for heating and are considered one of the main pollution contributors.

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