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Renaming Skopje Streets Angers WW2 Veterans

March 16, 2012
Βy Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight, 15.03.2012
Monument of Skopje’s WW2 liberators

The association of wartime partisans who fought against Nazi occupation says it suspects the ruling centre-right VMRO-DPMNE party of Nikola Gruevski of aiming intentionally to erase the past.

“The goal is to erase the names of those who organized and led … the Macedonian people and who in the end formed the Macedonian state,” the association said in a written statement.

Last week, officials from the parties that run Skopje city council said that a list of about 1,000 new names for streets is in the pipeline.

This would be the first renaming of streets in 20 years since Macedonia declared independence from federal Yugoslavia.

“There is no point in honoring bureaucrats from the past regime and with this move we aim to change that,” one VMRO-DPMNE member of the city council told Balkan Insight last week.

The head of the association, retired General Todor Atanasovski differs, noting that important figures like Macedonian’s first Prime Minister after the war, Lazar Kolisevski have been missed out from the plan.

“This is revenge on the part of the followers of the forces defeated in World War II,” Atanasovski said.

The veterans are particularly against the inclusion on the list of 19th and 20th-century nationalists who in the Communist era were denounced as reactionary servants of foreign interests.

Such figures include Todor Aleksandrov or Vanco Mihajlov, both members of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, VMRO, the organisation that fought for Macedonia’s independence from Ottoman rule but was at some points linked to Bulgaria.

Both were previously considered too pro-Bulgarian in their views and thus undeserving of hero status.

Paradoxically, while the ruling party has not forgotten to include some former Macedonian Communists like General Mihajlo Apostolski, or Krste Crvenkovski, it also wants a street named “Victims of Communism”.

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