Wiretapping scandal set 35: The Baroque transformation of Skopje
How the ideas and caprices of Gruevski have been transferred in the project “Skopje 2014”, nearly always with huge misuses of the state instruments and how and to what extent Gruevski is in love with the baroque, we find that out from this conversations set.
Nikola Gruevski is the commander and the “architect” of the overly expensive and nonessential project “Skopje 2014”, we find this out from this conversation set. The first conversation is between Gruevski and Mile Janakieski, and it is related to the new building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Gruevski wants that facility to be moved in as soon as possible, although it is not ready yet, so he asks Janakieski whether there is a chance for issuing a provisional permission for the MFA to move in, and the Ministry of Transport and Communications can move in MFA’s ex facility near the Statistics Office. After Janakieski points out the objections for it, Gruevski suggests illegal moving in of the MFA, and the Minister of Transport and Communications immediately agrees with that. When asked whether his Ministry would cause some problems about that, Janakieski reminds that the Museum of VMRO was illegally moved in too. Gruevski seems like he is not familiar with that, and Janakieski emphasizes that he does not know if the museum has a permission at the time they are talking, but he clearly knows that the building was illegally resided.
Next, Janakieski throws another powerful “bomb” – he says that half of the state administration objects are not registered in the Cadaster, i.e. are illegal. Then, they both talk about the consequences if someone is injured in the illegally moved in building.
GRUEVSKI – AN ARCHITECT AND AN URBAN PLANNER
In the next three conversations between Gruevski and Janakieski we find out who is the head architect of “Skopje 2014”. Gruevski corrects an object – he gave remarks to the architect to add balconies, to correct stairways.
In the second conversation we hear that Gruevski wants to build a fountain with an obelisk behind MFA’s new building, so he is asking Janakieski if he can “set it up” to those who are going to construct the building on that lot. We hear Gruevski’s calculations with firms that solicited to construct buildings – Komercijalna Banka and EVN – so he considers the possibility to set them up with the fountain, for which he already has an idea – i.e. a photo of a fountain with obelisk in Rome. Also, the DUP (Detailed Urban Development Plan) will be changed in order to satisfy Gruevski’s desires, so the fountain with the 20-meter high obelisk can be added…
Then we hear Gruevski telling Janakieski “to walk in” for 10 minutes between Gruevski’s meetings, so together with Martin and “two more people” they will select the conceptual design from the several variants on the table, for the tower of the Agency for Electronic Communications beneath the peak of Mount Vodno. Then we hear him requesting the conceptual design for a multistory car park to be in Baroque or Classicism. Plus, he is very specific in his demands how to prepare the conceptual design, so he teaches Janakieski that Baroque and Classicism are completely different things. He insists to go with Baroque – Mile should find photos from Vienna, Prague, Paris…
LET THERE BE ORANGE COLOR IN THE BUSSES
Afterwards we hear a conversation about the design of the new double-decker busses that will be bought for the purposes of Public Enterprise “JSP Skopje”. We hear that Janakieski requested a design change for the part around the engine, and he and the Prime Minister are selecting the pattern of the seats’ upholstery. Gruevski wants something orange in the interior “as a symbol of the era when they were procured”. Gruevski also wants an advertisement space in the busses “as in London, when we took the Tube”. He requests “mini TVs” too, probably for advertisements. He is also interested whether there will be music in the busses and what will the sound be like, whether Mile has tested it, “I want it to sound perfectly…”.
Next, we hear a conversation between Janakieski and Martin Protugjer which is full of tensions as to whether to build an Aqua Park at the same time when Pece (Naumovski) is planning to build one. Protugjer even suggests to construct Disneyland in Skopje, so Mile can visit it with his son, when he will be a little older. We also hear Janakieski saying that Koce (Trajanovski) has a plan to expand the existing theme park on the surrounding greenery.
In the following conversation, Nikola Gruevski in the company of the then mayor of the Municipality of Centar, Vladimir Todorovikj, talks with Mile Janakieski and he is selecting the type of administrative facility for the Centar Municipality. We can hear that Janakieski projected 15-story Baroque building, and Gruevski is astounded by the fact that the construction of a 15-story Baroque building is impossible. Then, the Prime Minister gives a brief lecture to Janakieski about the Baroque and the types of Baroque – because there has also been “scabby baroque” too.
THE SPANISH STEPS JEOPARDIZED AFTER ZHERNOVSKI’S VICTORY
Later on, we hear another conversation between Gruevski and Janakieski – about the Spanish steps on the Macedonia Square. From this conversation, we find out the reason why the government still does not give the land-use authority to the Centar Municipality. The reasons actually are the Spanish Steps and the Baroque-type hotel and administrative space that have to be constructed on the Macedonia Square. This conversation is led during the local elections of 2013, prior the mandate of the new mayor and the new Council of municipality. Gruevski does not want to let this project go, and Janakieski tries to convince him that Zhernovski won’t be able to stop them, because “we have the power”. Gruevski says “under no circumstances” they should not let go the land from the square that Zhernovski will request, and Janakieski says he will do everything in his power as a Minister to stand in the way of Zhernovski.
We hear that Stevcho Jakimovski will sack 100 employees from the Karposh Municipality, who, as Gruevski has heard, would go at Zhernovski’s, i.e. in the Centar Municipality. Janakieski says he won’t give the consent for new employments, and this is also instructed by Gruevski.
There are two more conversations. The first one is between Nikola Gruevski and Mile Janakieski, but Elizabeta Kancheska – Milevska is there as well. In this conversation Ministers reveal to Gruevski that they voided the cultural heritage status of many monuments, because, as they say, to make possible to do what ”they” want. That was easy when the head of the Centar Municipality was Vladimir Todorovikj, but the power shift in Centar creates a lot of problems, so they want to return the things the old way in order to continue the Baroque transformation of the facades, with Minister’s signature.
In the next conversation Nikola Gruevski is debating with Mile Janakieski whether the building near the St. Clement of Ohrid cathedral church in the center of Skopje should be in Baroque or Classicism.
NOT MARBLE, BUT MORTAR – WE HAVE NO MONEY
The following conversation is between Gruevski and Janakieski and they discuss whether the new buildings should have marble or special mortar that is a marble imitation, and we find out that the marble is better but a lot more costly, and we hear from the Prime Minister himself that there is no money in the state’s treasury to continue with building. However, he says that Agency of Electronic Communications (AEC)’s building can be facaded with marble, because AEC has the money for it.
In the last conversation from this set we hear Gruevski talking with Silvana Boneva, and they are preparing the strategy for the performance of his MPs at the session for MP questions in the Parliament. They expect unfavorable questions for the Minister Kancheska – Milevska regarding the money spent on “Skopje 2014”. Gruevski decides that Kancheska – Milevska won’t attend the session, so she won’t have to answer the questions about the people’s money spent on opulence and luxury. As Gruevski puts it, they would lose everything if they say how much money they have spent on Skopje 2014. He is ready to do anything just to conceal the truth.
All of the “bombs” are here.
Press conference of Damjan Manchevski, vice-president of SDSM, in Skopje, 29th of May 2015
This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.