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April 22 2013

“Manipulative” Coverage of Macedonia's Media Law

“Practice indicates that responsible and ethical journalism is never the result of state legislation and regulations, but of the voluntary compliance with the code created by the media community itself.”

This statement from the Guide on Ethics in Journalism [mk] opens Žarko Trajanoski's analysis [en] of the “manipulations” by Macedonia's “pro-government journalists” who “fanatically support and promote [the proposed Media Law].” The English-language version of Trajanovski's text was published by Metamorphosis: Foundation for Internet and Society (@fmeta), and it is also available in Macedonian and in Albanian. One of Trajanoski's conclusions is that “the most vigorous advocates for the adoption of a new Media Law since 2011 are exactly the journalists and editors flagrantly violating the ethical norms of the journalist code.”

April 15 2013

Running 1,000 Miles for Europe's Trafficked Children

Run For Love 1000

This month, Rob Martineau, Tom Stancliffe, and Guy Hacking are running 1,000 miles from Odessa to Dubrovnik, via Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Croatia, as part of the Run For Love 1000 campaign, whose aim is to raise funds for Love146, a UK charity that “gives care and hope to trafficked children, and to raise awareness of the scale of human trafficking across Europe.” Follow their run on the RFL1000 website, on Facebook, and on Twitter; support the runners by donating here (215 donations have been made so far, with nearly £12,500 raised).

April 10 2013

Macedonia's Media Law Lacks Media's Input

The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) explains [en] why Macedonian journalists are demanding an open debate “on the scope and the contents” of the draft Law on the Media (via @Macedonia_en):

[...] It was prepared, in its entirety, by the Government and is offered today to the public to give its comments and suggestions as a final and closed concept. [...] we do need changes in the legislation to incorporate the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive and we need improved and strengthened implementation of the existing legislation. Any expansion of the scope of the regulation needs to be preceded by a serious debate on the very need to introduce new regulation. [...]

March 18 2013

Welcome Spring and Good-bye Evil Eye

File:Martenitsa E5.jpg

Martenitsas on a blossoming tree.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Μάρτης [el], мартеница [bg], мартинка [mk], mărțișor [ru]…however you call it, an ancient tradition [el] with multiple variations that takes place in the Balkans. So, weave your red-and-white threads for protection against the “evil eye” or to welcome Spring!


February 24 2013

Macedonian Anti-Fascists Protest Against Harassment

Vanco Dzambaski published a photo gallery from the gathering that took place on February 16 in the center of Skopje, commemorating the February Campaign of 1944, when Macedonian partisans marched through the snowy mountains to deal a decisive blow to the fascist forces in Macedonia and Northern Greece. World War II veterans and their supporters [mk] protested against the forced neglect of the Allied Forces’ achievements (which include the founding of the Macedonian state), and the continuous harassment of the veterans’ organization by the current government at all levels.

February March, Anti-Fascist Protest in Skopje, Macedonia

Anti-fascist protesters: “Proud of the past that actually happened.” Photo by V. Dzambaski (CC NC-SA)

In December 2012, the veterans’ organization [mk] was thrown out of their premises through a controversial court order, with the help from an out-of-town security agency [mk], after a local one failed [mk] to deal with the old fighters.

The city government tried to stop the February 16 protest [mk] by denying permission to use the public square. They claimed other events were scheduled in the area at the designated time, but refused to specify. The protesters decided to march anyway, continuing the tradition of the original February march, commenced against the will of the then-authorities.

Elderly participants in anti-fascist protest in Skopje, Macedonia

Keeping the memories alive. Photo by V. Dzambaski (CC NC-SA)

On the day of the protest, it was the only event there. Instead of covering the protest, the major pro-government media, such as SITEL TV, propagated the government's communiqué [mk] that announced their respect for the heritage of the World War II.

Media expert Roberto Belicanec wrote [mk; Wikipedia links added]:

1. No news whatsoever about what happened on the square.

2. The image of the monument to Čento, instead of the images of the event. Čento, because he is selected by the ruling party to demonstrate some meager connection to National Liberation War. Čento – abused for ideological whitewash of NLW, because he was not a communist, but participated in the [communist-led] movement.

3. A government spokesman in fact explained that “we witness that we have invested in creation of cultural heritage, to mark this important period of our history, including building of monuments such as to Metodija Andonov Čento, to the participants of ASNOM, and others.” Besides the oxymoronic aspect of “creating cultural heritage,” this phrase also reveals ideological operation of reshaping history and erasing all that does not fit within their worldview. And again, Čento, of course. His murder was not enough, now every opportunity is used for his symbolical killings. Furthermore, the ASNOM monument in the memorial park dedicated to the Women Fighters, a place massacred with new monuments, its original function devastated, was erected only as a counterweight for the monument of the historical VMRO, in order to arrogantly present the current political party with the same name as a continuity of the Macedonian struggle. If they could, they would have circumvented ASNOM too.

4. In the end – “The Government of the Republic of Macedonia,” underscored Gjorgjiev, “has no participation nor contact within the framework of the court case led by the Veterans’ Association with another veterans’ association.” One more frame – rule of law in the form of “I act dumb, and you act as if you believe me.”

February 20 2013

New e-Journal Highlights Balkan History and Archaeology

The inaugural issue of Haemus Journal, an academic e-journal devoted to the history and archaeology of the Balkan Peninsula, also covering a wide range of related interdisciplinary topics, was published recently. It follows the principles of Free and Open Access and publishes its content under a Creative Commons license.


Haemus journal Vol.1 (2012)


January 29 2013

“The Un-European Union”

GV Author Filip Stojanovski, on his blog Razvigor, has translated into English a mock story [sr] by, “the Serbian equivalent to The Onion,” about the UK striving to join “the Un-European Union”:

The Council of Ministers of the countries of the Un-European Union stated today in Skopje that a long road lies ahead of United Kingdom in order for it to join this international organisation. […]

The Macedonian translation of the story is here.

January 22 2013

Macedonian Sports Journalist Protests Harassment

Ticket for 2013 World Men's Handball Championship for Barcelona, Spain

A ticket for the 2013 World Men's Handball Championship from Filevski's blog. Photo used with permission.

A prominent Macedonian sports journalist Igor Filevski, who works as a correspondent from Spain, announced [mk] on his blog that he will no longer cover Macedonian sports in order to protest the silence of his colleagues and relevant institutions, who have been patiently ignoring the harassment inflicted on him for daring to cover the malfunctions within the Macedonian Handball Federation, including nepotism and a recent hushed-up scandal of disorganized transportation of the National Team [mk] to the World Men's Championship in Seville and Barcelona.

January 21 2013

Macedonians Ask State News Agency to Stop Manipulations

An online initiative against media manipulations [mk] perpetrated by the state-owned Macedonian Information Agency (MIA) asks citizens to express their dissatisfaction by sending e-mails to the agency. The action was spurred by the latest example of blatant spin, when a MIA correspondent distorted U.S. diplomat Philip Reeker's statement about the disappointment with the Balkan leaders, making it appear as if he referred to the Macedonian opposition. Reeker repudiated this in a statement [mk] for the critical portal Libertas, clarifying that he alluded to leaders who are actually in power and are backsliding from democracy. Libertas also claims the government and MIA declined to comment afterwards.

January 16 2013

Macedonian Activists Collect 10,000 Signatures for Legislative Change

Activists of the civic initiative AMAN [mk] continue to fight for a better energy legislation [mg, fr, mk, es], despite pressure and infiltrations. In November, “unknown persons” prevented them from talking to PM Gruevski [mk] at an “open meeting with citizens.” Currently, there's an ongoing signature-gathering campaign for the change of the law (the deadline is January 31, 2013), and AMAN has posted this announcement [mk]:


December 27 2012

Macedonia: Beer Belly Blog Anniversary

Logo of the Beer Belly Blog (Пивски стомак)

The Beer Belly original logo, voluntary contribution by @dasaf

The “Beer Belly” blog celebrated [mk, mk] its first anniversary. Its author @Twibi thanked members of the Macedonian Twitter community who have been bringing him beer samples from their trips all over the world to review. So far, he has made 198 posts about beers from 20 countries, including Kenya [mk], thanks to the local GV Summit 2012 participants - @ieli and @bjasari.

December 25 2012

Journalists, Opposition Thrown Out of Macedonian Parliament Amid Street Protests

On Monday, Dec. 24, the Macedonian capital Skopje was shaken by a violent protest - and a counter-protest - related to the Parliament's approval of the 2013 state budget (en, en).

Youth Radio MOF provided this short summary [mk]

1. The direct motive for the outburst of (institutional and physical) violence was the opposition's blocking of the adoption of the budget in the Parliament, which was conducted through the submission of numerous proposed amendments, a method previously perfected by a junior government partner […]. The opposition proposed a plan of saving EUR 240 million planned for unnecessary expenses and luxury. [The total budget is EUR 2.7 billion.] They also announced the withdrawal of the amendments if the government accepted their saving proposal. The ruling party, however, claimed that by blocking the budget, the opposition was ruining the state and denying funds for the pensioners, social welfare cases, farmers, students, artists… Both sides did not budge, and several protests against the opposition took place in the past few days, demanding its leader to leave politics…

Policeman in Skopje, Macedonia, wipping splashed egg from helmet.

A police officer who received an egg aimed at the opposition protesters. From an extensive hi-res photo gallery by Vanco Dzambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

The proposed cutting of expenses mainly referred to the new construction within Skopje 2014 project, which earned the city the title of the “Kitsch capital of the Balkans” in the international media, thanks to a widely circulated AP story (en, ro, also it). One of the counter-protests included “the artists,” organized by the government-appointed directors of Skopje's Macedonian-language theaters, ballet, and national folk ensemble. When asked if it was normal for a theater that was supposed to require EUR 4.5 million to actually receive EUR 27 million, with additional EUR 10 million budgeted for 2013, Jelena Zhugic, director of Theater “Comedy” replied [mk]: “Milk and honey also did not flow in the streets of France when they were building their castles.” Social network users quickly drew comparisons with the the infamous pre-French Revolution quote: “Let them eat cake.”

Radio MOF explanation continued:

2. Last weekend, the Assembly President Trajko Veljanovski returned the budget to the PM's Cabinet, which urgently adopted it with slight modifications, and returned it to the Assembly. It bypassed the Finances and Budget Committee, and was placed directly to a plenary session instead. This set a precedent which the opposition deemed “contrary to Constitution, Rules of Procedure and the laws.”

Bloggers TheRealPsmst and Goran Arsov concurred, quoting [mk] the Rules of Procedure and other relevant legislature [mk]. Radio MOF concluded:

3. Supporters of the government and the opposition announced protests in front of the Parliament at the same time. The tense atmosphere with the police buffer in between, both groups exchanged insults and projectiles (stones, eggs, apples, [potatoes]). Around 20 protesters and 11 policemen were injured.

An opposition protester who received a head injury by an object hurled by the pro-government counter-protesters. Photo by Vancho Dzhambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

One of the government MPs was videotaped [mk] defiantly marching behind the police cordon, making obscene gestures at the protesters and yelling, “Die! Die!”

Amdi Bajram, MP from the government coalition, “addressing” the protesters. Photo by Vancho Dzambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

At one point, in response to missile attacks, opposition protesters broke the first line of the police cordon and were stopped by force. Photo by V. Dzambaski, CC BY-NC-SA

Meanwhile, inside the Parliament [sq], the security detail threw out the resident journalists, and most of the opposition MPs who tried to physically block the upcoming session. Three of them ended up in hospital [mk]. Then, the new budget was passed with 65 “yes” votes and 4 “against,” out of 123 MPs. The protest dispersed after the news of the adoption of the budget, except for a lone young man who undressed in front of the police and was arrested, unlike a police-approved government supporter.

The unrest in the Parliament included a serious denial of freedom of expression, which some international media covering the events of the day (en, en) have failed to mention.

NGO Civil–Center for Freedom has strongly condemend the violence against citizens, their parliamentarian representatives and journalists [en, mk, sq]:

Chaos and violence took place in Macedonia today. Officers of the security in the Macedonian Parliament acted in an unspeakable manner and physically attacked people’s representatives of the opposition, beating and dragging them through the corridors.

Before the eyes of the Macedonian public and the world, all rules and principles of democracy, the Constitution and the laws have been suspended.


Government officials and the parliamentary majority, security and police authorities, as well as officers of these structures who acted violently must immediately apologize to the Macedonian citizens and take responsibility for their actions.

The Journalists' Trade Union protested [mk], and the Association of Journalists of Macedonia issued the following statement [en, mk, sq]:

The Association of Journalists of Macedonia strongly condemns today's incident in the Parliament, where journalists were forcefully expelled from the “gallery room” from which they were following the plenary session. With this act, the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of expression and media freedom, was grossly violated.

The authorities who gave the orders for this shameful act have formalized censorship and decided what must and what must not to be reported by the journalists. The forcibly evicted journalists did nothing to cause the reaction of the security, nor was there a legal basis for their removal.

We were removed in order not to witness the removal of the opposition MPs from the sessions. This is a case that should not go unpunished.

For these reasons, the Board of AJM stops all the negotiations with the government until the return of the constitutional order in Macedonia, and until the perpetrators and the authorities of this shameful behavior are not identified and punished according to the law.

AJM will use all the legal mechanisms to protect the freedom of expression and media freedom. Also, we will alert the domestic and foreign public about these events in the Parliament.

Police with dogs. Monuments in background. Skopje, Macedonia. Photo by Vachno Dzambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

The police in front of the Macedonian Parliament after the protests on Dec. 24, 2012. Photo by Vachno Dzambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

The mood on the social networks was grim during the day and in the evening, with people expressing disappointment and disgust. A representative pessimistic blog post is listing reasons “Why I would immediately leave this country” [mk].

December 24 2012

Macedonia: Nude Art Twitter Calendar for Charity

Twelve Macedonian women - regular Twitter users - took part in a humanitarian project organized by @IlinaBookbox, two photographers and one designer via the hashtag #ТвитерКалендар (Macedonian for ‘Twitter Calendar'). The resulting nude art calendar was donated to anti-cancer association Borka [wallpapers available via mk, mk, sq]. The original photos are on sale through the exhibition in Lee Cafe in Skopje [mk], and all proceedings will be donated to charity.

Promoting Recycling in Macedonia

The tree makers. Photo by @teksega, used with permission.

Continuing the tradition that started last year (en, mk, nl, es), the Macedonian Twitter community has erected a new Christmas Tree made of plastic bottles (mk, mk, photos 1, 2, 3) in Skopje City Park in order to raise awareness of the importance of recycling. The event was again organized around the hashtag #елкамк (Macedonian for ‘fir tree mk') and open source instructions [mk], announced [mk] three weeks in advance by several bloggers. The tree will be purchased by a local recycling company and the money donated to charity.

December 14 2012

Inappropriate Analogy for Greece-Macedonia Name Dispute

Responding to an assertion by Gerald Knaus…

Athens and Skopje face a [prisoner's dilemma]: if neither side believes that a solution is possible, and acts on this, both will lose.

Zarko Trajanoski wrote on Facebook:

However, the analogy with “prisoner's dilemma” is not only false, but very offensive: Athens is not a prisoner, but a prison guard and perhaps a political torturer in this case. And the outcome of this political torture, aided by Sofia as well, is the rise of the Macedonian ethno-nationalism and the decline of the liberalism, democracy and human rights.

He later provided an elaborate explanation in a blog post [mk].

December 13 2012

Presenting the Balkan Minorities

Face the Balkans subjects of stories

A screenshot of the Face the Balkans website.

Fifteen young journalists from six different countries have produced a series of personal stories about representatives of the minorities (in a broad sense) from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia. The stories are available in English, German, and French on the Face the Balkans website.

December 05 2012

Summarizing English-Language Coverage on Macedonia

Expat blogger Rainier Jaarsma provides periodical roundups of the English-language coverage of events in Macedonia. The latest one regards this past November.

November 27 2012

Macedonia: 7th Critical Mass Biking in Skopje on Wednesday

Promotional banner for Critical Mass #7 in Skopje under the motto 'The Streets are for Bikes, Too'

Promotional banner for Critical Mass #7: ‘The Streets are for Bikes, Too'

The 7th Critical Mass [mk] group cycling will take place on the streets of Skopje on November 28 (Wednesday) starting at 5:30 pm, organized via #КМ7 hashtag and the FB event [mk].

November 26 2012

Documenting New Bike Lanes in Macedonian Capital Skopje

Riding a bike in Skopje. Photo by Na tochak, used with permission.

Na tochak (On a Bycicle), a group of cyclists organizing the Critical Mass movement, used video and photos to document the experience of riding in the bike lanes of several Skopje boulevards, reconstructed and widened ahead of the local elections scheduled for March 2013. (more…)

November 25 2012

Blogirame Award Distinguishes Macedonia's Top Bloggers and Twitter Users

Macedonian blog aggregator Blogirame [”We blog”] published the results [mk] of their first annual awards, as well as videos [mk] from the ceremony held on November 23, 2012.

According to the popular vote:

(Video by @banekoma.)

Winners in the top Twitter categories include:

Angela/@RumShtangla showing her three awards. Used with permission.

The top hashtag for 2012 is #ЗдравоБоби (Hello Bobby). JovanaTozija explained [mk] that it addresses the issue of “in the past, for a model to say hi to you you'd need a lot of cash, now all you need is Twitter and a publicly expressed wish for sexual relation with her.” The point of this viral campaign, elaborated [mk] Nixon, Inc., was to “show the power of the social media to get a response by a celebrity soul-mate.” This “successful trolling project” was inspired by a real event, according [mk] to RubinBT.

The top tweet for 2012 is by Ina…

“You can freely have fun at my account, it has been blocked!”

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