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Revamping Skopje causes scorn among citizens

From WAZ.euobserver:

A bombastic government project to revamp Skopje, Macedonia’s bland capital, has caused both ridicule and scorn among citizens of the small Balkan country.

A giant triumphal arch, a newly built multi-dome orthodox church, dozens of statues, and the reconstruction of buildings that had been destroyed by the 1963 earthquake will completely alter the look of Skopje’s central square.

The project, known as Skopje 2014, is highly controversial. Plans for a huge statue of Alexander the Great are likely to deepen the dispute with Macedonia’s southern neighbour Greece about names and history. Athens opposes Skopje’s wish to call the country “Republic of Macedonia” and to portray it as the legitimate heir of Alexander’s short-lived giant empire.

Macedonia’s Albanian minority is upset as well. The plan does not include any monument dedicated to that ethnic group’s history, despite the fact that they represent 25 percent of the population.

Idjet Memeti from DUI, the Albanian junior partner in the governing coalition, has described the project as “a political pamphlet that will deepen the ethnic rift between the two main communities.”

Macedonian opposition parties call the concept ugly and say there should be a referendum on it. Meanwhile, the cost of “Skopje 2014″ remains unclear. Leaked estimates point to a total amount of around €200 million. The mayor of Skopje claims the project will cost no more than €80 million. Macedonians earn an average €300 a month.

Nikola Naumoski, head of the “Freedom Square” NGO, believes the government is holding back confidential data indicating that total expenditure on the project will be much higher than current estimates. His organisation has already staged massive protests and promises to turn them into a steady campaign.

From WAZ.euobserver

Filed under: Cultura, Heritage, , , , , , , , ,

Acropolis Museum celebrates first anniversary

From ana.gr:

New Acropolis Museum Entrance

More than two million people have visited the new Museum of the Acropolis during its first year of operation, according to figures presented by the museum to mark the first anniversary since it first opened to the public on June 20, 2009.

The museum’s board chairman Prof. Demetris Pandermalis said the museum received a total of 2,010,641 visitors in that time, had set research and scientific goals, made progress in the area of conservation and also in educational programmes.

He also announced the launch of the museum’s first touring exhibition “Pericles Xanthippos” on June 20. This uses archaeological finds such as inscriptions, coins and other artifacts to illustrate and explore the life of the famous ancient Athenian statesman, the man who led Athens during its ‘Golden Age’ and who conceived the idea of building the Parthenon. The exhibition will run until January 31, 2011.

The Acropolis Museum is the first public museum in the country that operates as a public-sector legal entity and its aim is to cover its costs with its own revenues as much as possible. It currently employs a staff of 200, some of whom are contract workers and civil servants detached from the culture ministry. It currently covers its public utility bills on its own and gets financial assistance from the Organisation for the Building of the New Acropolis Museum (OANMA).

Once a presidential degree on the operation of the museum is completed, following delays caused by the change of ministers and government, this will allow the museum to address the issue of hiring managerial staff and the position of the director will be proclaimed.

Pandermalis also referred to the museum’s medical unit and in-house doctor, noting that this had dealt with 377 incidents from November 1, 2009 until May 31, 2010, of which 67 percent were visitors to the museum.

The ticket will remain at 5 euros in 2011, by decision of the museum’s board, while it has also allowed the lease of the restaurant and cafe area on terms decided by the museum management.

From ana.gr

Acropolis Museum

Filed under: Cultura, Exhibition, , , , , ,

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