Friday, September 12, 2003

Architectural Abomination

Here's a little story for you. Over the course of a few years, some Austrian corporation, represented by certain Dragisha, managed to convince members of two successive, mutually opposing, governmental administrations and got a permit to raise a new building on the main square of Skopje, my home town and a capital of Republic of Macedonia. Ok, so some public officials were fired after signing some deals with Dragisha about this, but still, his right to build on former public land (which he paid dirt cheap) was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Naturally, nobody does anything about this until one day the citizens of Skopje wake up to a giant crater in its heart, right next to the location of the house where Mother Theresa was born (a plaque and markers on the pavement designate the place). The current Government officials (who run the first of the two afore-mentioned administrations) cry foul, some media raise havoc, and even a group of concerned citizens decided to present awards "Golden Piccolomini" to the people responsible for this mess.

A solution? To bribe back the perpetrator with taxpayers' money.

Piccolomini was an Austrian general who burned Skopje to the ground in 1689, as a side-show while inciting a rebellion of Orthodox Christian Serbs and Macedonians against the Ottoman Empire. (Something along the lines of US support of Shiite rebellion against Saddam after Gulf War I.) Austrians then abandoned their indigenous allies, and the Ottoman reprisals resulted in depopulating of vast areas in Kosovo and Northern Macedonia, latter to be settled by Muslim colonists (Albanians, Turks).

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