Former Republics and other
Political Issues

The border between Bulgaria and Macedonia appeared to me as one that still deserves its name. Passports are collected and distributed. Everyone lines up with their luggage beside the bus. The contents of my suitcase arouse little interest. A disparaging chin movement informs me that I can pack up my booty again. The bus is searched in a specially constructed bus examination shed. A member of the US army takes photographs of the nice view of the mountains.

The Macedonians are like us, said the Bulgarians. They speak the same language as us. We share the same culture. Let them dream, says Hristina. She and Oliver lead the Macedonian office of a Swiss cultural foundation. There are issues that need to be resolved with all the neighbours, says Oliver. With the Bulgarians about culture and the nation; with the Greeks about the name, and with the Albanians anyway.


Because of the problems Greece has with the name Republic of Macedonia, the country is officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM for short. In Skopje T-Shirts and badges are sold with "Don't FYROM me" printed on them.

The presidential elections are of remarkably little interest to anyone. The only people who mention the election are the staff of the Swiss and Germany embassies.

I have lunch with Zarko Trajanoski, a philosopher and human rights activist. Until recently he led a counselling centre for citizens who felt their rights had been violated in some way. Zarko eats pancakes. In Zarko's opinion, the supposed ethnic and religious conflicts between the Macedonian Albanians and Macedonian Macedonians are conflicts resulting from the divergent development of urban and rural regions, from neglected villages and high unemployment. Unfortunately, it has to be said that West European organisations and the media did not make a useful contribution in this respect. On the contrary, they created many more problems by placing such an emphasis on ethnic identities in the Balkan and thus encouraging people to think in terms of ethnic groups. For him, there are just the citizens of Macedonia, the rest is not important and is a private matter.

So it just remains for me to say that Mother Teresa was born in Skopje.





What will represent Macedonia?

Asked what should represent their country in the exhibition in November sixteen Macedonians chose the following:

-  a red Gjezve from the household supply for the preparation of turkish coffee and
    a glass of Ajvar, given to me by Makdeonka Andonowa

-  drawings made for an ethnographic map of Macedonia by her grandfather
     Mihajlo Sojlev, given to me by Kamelia Šojlevska

-  Ajvar, given to me by Bojan

-  Ajvar, given to me by Gordana and Jan von Vogt

-  the CD swinging MACEDONIA by dd SYNTHESIS and a bottle of macedonian Cabernet
    Sauvignon, given to me by Petar Gjorgjiev and Nataša Zafirova

-  macedonian wine named after the poem T`Ga za jug (Desiring the South)
    by Konstantin Miladinov, as well as a text about worker's migration from
    Macedonia, given to me by Dijana Tomik Radevska

-  a story about her familiy written by Slavica Janešlieva

-  dried peppers, given to me by Tamara Simonovska

-  paste of eggplant and marinated peppers, given to me by Hristina Ivanovka

-  an empty plastic bottle, given to me by Matthias Vollert

-  the detergent Biljana and cigarettes of the trademark Partner, combined with the
    instruction to do the laundry in the exhibition while smoking, instructed and given
    to me by von Oliver Musovik

-  the statement that Macedonians are friendly and frank people,
    by request of Zoran Petrovski

-  paper handkerchiefs Paloma, given to me by Aliye Useinova

-  the recording of a request radio show with a song for me
    in the tv-channel of the macedonian Roma, by Yane Calovski

-  a map of 1913 that shows the areas inhabited by macedonian people,
    given to me by Oliver Musovik and Hristina Ivanovka

-  a joke, told by Zarko Trajanoski




What will represent Macedonia?
Sixteen Macedonians made their choice (more)

Interpretive Center (bigger)

Zastava 101(more)

On the other side is Albania (more)

More articles ...
... can be found in the german version of this page (to the german version)

Map (large file!)

In November every family is preserving Ajvar. I do miss this smell in the streets when I am not in Macedonia in November says Gordana. The Slowenians tried to get a patent on the term Ajvar, sly and enterprising as they are, says Oliver. Macedonia sued and won the suit; the judges decided that the word Ajvar is patentable as much as the word potato salad, for example.

In front of the Swiss embassy in Skopje japanese cherry trees are in blossom.
I present the content of my suitcase in the gallery of their cultural foundation. The briquette of brown coal is examined. The book published by the Federal Ministry of Finance is well-known by to the two translators in the audience: it inspired the revision of the macedonian income tax law.







Interpretive Center





In the early evening in Dracevo I accompany Oliver and his girlfriend on their customary walk. Oliver insists that I take photographs, as this is my job as a correspondent. As I take photos of a house with a light blue fence, a small truck stops outside. The owners of the house are in the truck. The man wants to be photographed too. He has been to Hamburg and Stockholm! He transported asylum seekers.
Oliver shows me a car of the brand in which the owner of the house with the light blue fence took the asylum seekers to Stockholm. It is a Zastava 101, produced in a Yugoslavian factory called Red Flag. Zastava 101 means Flag 101.



With Tamara Simonovska and her son on the Ochrid-Lake - it is splendid and Albania is on the opposite lakeside.