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23 Jun 11

A Nameless Warrior and the End of a Shameless Period

Harald Schenker

Placing the statue of Alexander the Great in the centre of Skopje is an unintentional allegory for the end of transition in Macedonia.

This end was not brought about by political parties, but by a brave youth movement sparked by a brutal killing.

OK, so it is done. The nameless horseman on the nameless horse has taken his place on the central square bearing the name of the country with a contested name.

And it has split the nation yet again, it has enraged the non-aligned parts of the public opinion, has frustrated the opposition, has delivered arguments to neighbouring Greece to feel its oh so sensitive and frail national soul provoked.

All that was predictable and calculated. As it was predictable and calculated that people would stand in awe before the grand statue, tears in their eyes and a quick photo with their favourite politician.

It might secure a job or two, and it might make politicians feel really loved. How touching. And how antique, really.

International media did not go beyond a slightly raised eyebrow and possible a slightly sarcastic smile along the lines of: “what is wrong with these people?” And art history will judge the sculptor Valentina Stevanovska for having missed essential classes in her professional formation.

In the meanwhile quite a few unfortunate people living and working around the square will have to put up with a more or less tasty view of the statue.


But in all its aesthetic obscenity this is a monument of times gone by. It will be remembered long after being dismantled by future leaders of a truly European Macedonian nation as the monument that put a sudden and final point to an era.

In a manner that probably wasn’t intended, transition has ended in Macedonia these days, thanks to a killer. Well an alleged killer, until there is a verdict.

Despite all the diversion attempts, the government structures have lost control of civil society. It took a tragic event like the killing of young Martin Neskovski by a representative of a security machinery spinning out of control and the government’s attempt to cover up the incident to break all barriers.

Youth have poured to the streets and continue to do so, despite warnings, threats, and rather clumsy attempts at manipulating this movement.

Their demands so far are simple – the whole truth and punishment of those responsible.

But the dam has broken. The youth on the streets have shown that they know no fear of repression, because there can be no old-style repression in 21st century Europe.

Social media are the key, the weapon and the defence system. Any European government would think twice, and it better did, before putting into motion any machinery to stop free citizens from exercising their fundamental rights. And this is the real novelty. The long 20th century has finally ended in Macedonia.

Those thinking they can control development by imposing their ideas and lifestyle are proven wrong, regardless of their ideological orientation.

Society, even a society in the making like the Macedonian one, has a natural tendency to be open, to be free. Installing fear and dependency on a clientelist system has been the technique of the last two decades.

Now all of a sudden there is a slight ray of hope that Macedonian citizens will learn from their children and put an end to this.

This movement has not succeeded yet. And there is reason to doubt it will fully succeed in the short run. But it has already earned the respect of this society for showing that there are no barriers when it comes to defending the right to live free of fear.

No linguistic barriers, no ethnic barriers, no ideological barriers. This movement is alive. Bronze and marble are dead. This movement will evolve, will mutate and will continue to influence society. Bronze and marble will stay dead.

Talk about it!

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