Macedonia

ELEMENTS OF CONTEXT

HISTORY

GEOGRAPHIC POSITION

The Republic of Macedonia is situated on the Balkan Peninsula and accounts for 38% of the overall region of “Macedonia”. It constitutes the northwestern part of the larger geographical region of Macedonia, which also comprises parts of Greece and Bulgaria. A landlocked country, it is bordered by Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south and Albania to the west. The country’s capital is Skopje, with approximately 506,926 inhabitants (according to the 2002 census).

Republic of Macedonia is a landlocked country that is geographically clearly defined by a central valley formed by the Vardar River and framed along its borders by mountain ranges. The terrain is mostly rugged, located between the Šar Mountains and Osogovo, which frame the valley of the Vardar River. Three large lakes — Lake Ohrid, Lake Prespa and Dojran Lake — lie on the southern borders, bisected by the frontiers with Albania and Greece. Ohrid is considered to be one of the oldest lakes and biotopes in the world. The region is seismically active and has been the site of destructive earthquakes in the past, most recently in 1963 when Skopje was heavily damaged by a major earthquake, killing over 1,000.

positionRofM RofMrégion

Position of the Republic of Macedonia in Europe | Republic of Macedonia within the region

Macedonia has a transitional climate from Mediterranean to continental and is a country of outstanding natural beauty with more than 50 lakes and 16 mountains higher than 2,000 meters.

DEMOGRAPHY

The territory of the Republic of Macedonia comprises 25,713 km2 (9,928 square miles). The last census data from 2002 shows a population of 2,022,547 inhabitants and the most recent official estimate from 2011 gives a figure of 2,058,539, with a corresponding density of 80.1 people per km2.

The majority of population in the Republic of Macedonia are Macedonians, and the rest are other ethnic groups, Albanians, Turks, Roma, Serbs, Bosniaks, Vlachs and others minorities.

As a result of the decrease in the birth rate and the rate of general mortality in the last 10 years the natural growth of the population decreased from 3.6% in 2001 to 1.6% in 2011.

The other characteristics of Macedonian society are presented in the table

Capital Skopje
Population* 2,082,370
Life expectancy* 75.36 years
Literacy* 97.3%
Unemployment rate (% of labour force without job)* 31.3% (2012 est.)
Population below poverty line* 30.9%
Human Development Index** 78/187

*Stats from World Fact book as of March 2013
** Stats from UNDP.org 2011 rankings

Historically, Republic of Macedonia is an agricultural country and almost half of the population from the rural areas is employed in this sector, divided almost equally between agricultural land and pastures. However, as a country in major economic transition, it faces dramatic changes in the socio-economic structure of the population which is reflected in the evolving demographics.

POLITICAL SYSTEM

The Republic of Macedonia is a parliamentary democracy that gained its independence peacefully from the dissolution of Yugoslavia through a referendum and subsequently declared independence on the 8th of September 1991. It is a member of the UN and the Council of Europe and since December 2005 it has been a candidate country for joining the European Union and has applied for NATO membership.

The Republic of Macedonia is an independent, sovereign and democratic social state. Skopje is the Capital of the state with more than 500,000 citizens. The official language is Macedonian and the currency used is the Macedonian Denar.

The municipalities in Macedonia are self-sustainable administrative units and are organized into 85 municipalities, ten of which represent the city of Skopje, as a separate local municipal unit and capital of the country.

HISTORY

The name Macedonia derives from the ancient Macedonian name Makedonia (Македонија), and was variously used to refer to the Macedonian Empire, then the Roman province Macedonia, for the Byzantine period Macedonia and today for the region Macedonia and the Republic of Macedonia.

Historically, most of what is now the Republic of Macedonia was a crossroad to many army’s and conquerors. The territory had been occupied by different conquerors, ruled by many kings, part of many countries in different periods of history. These periods can be divided into several historical development periods : Ancient Macedonia, Roman Macedonia, Ottoman Macedonia, The Independence Movements, Post World War 1 period of partition, World War 2 Liberation, and the modern state of the Republic of Macedonia.

Ancient period

During Ancient times, in 356 BC Philip II of Macedon absorbed the regions of Upper Macedonia (Lynkestis and Pelagonia) and the southern part of Paeonia (Deuriopus) into the Kingdom of Macedon. Philip’s son Alexander the Great conquered the remainder of the region, and incorporated it into his empire, reaching as far north as Scupi, but the city and the surrounding area remained part of Dardania.

The Romans established the Province of Macedonia in 146 BC. and by the time of Diocletian, the province had been subdivided between Macedonia Prima and Macedonia Salutaris; most of country’s modern boundaries fell within the latter, with the city of Stobi as its capital. Stobi was an ancient town of Paeonia, later conquered by Macedon, and later turned into the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia (now near Gradsko in the Republic of Macedonia). Stobi was built where the current River Crna joins the river Vardar, making it important strategically as a center for both trade and warfare.

Medieval period

After the Macedonian Kingdom was conquered by Rome following the Pinda Battle in 168 BC the Macedonian tsar road, along which King Perseus with the royal family, aristocracy and the treasures walked in chains for the last time, represented an ideal and shortest distance for future conquering raids of the Roman expansion towards the East. Via Ignatia was the priority, mostly because there was no communication infrastructure within the conquered regions as well as between them and Rome, whose expansion towards the East was unstoppable.

via egnatia

Position of the road “Via Egnatia”

The “Via Egnatia” story:

The whole responsibility to build a road in Macedonia was given to the pro-consul Gnaeus Egnatius. After he had received instructions and backing, Egnatius went to determine the route and concluding the two-month absence he came back to Rome and shortly debriefed the senators: “Gentlemen, there is no road down there.” Hearing that, senator Nonius replied: “There should be road, my dear Egnatius.” And so it was. There in the Balkan desert land the marking of the famous Via Egnatia began.  

The Slovenes inhabited the Balkan region in the VI and VII century all the way to Thessaly or even into the Peloponnese, mixing with the local population such as the Antique Macedonians, Greeks, Illyrians, and Thracians. In the 9th century, while the Byzantine Empire was ruled by the Macedonians, Emperors of the Macedonian Dynasty, the Macedonian brothers Cyril and Methodius from the largest Macedonian city of Salonica, created the first Slavonic alphabet, founded Slavic literacy, and promoted Christianity among the Slavic peoples. Their disciples Kliment and Naum of Ohrid established the first Slavonic University, the Ohrid Literary School and 3,500 teachers, clergy, writers, and other literary figures emerged from this School. Their activity was crowned with the laying of foundations of a Slavonic cultural, educational and ecclesiastical Organization, where the Slavonic alphabet was used and the Old Slavonic language was introduced into religious services. The establishment of the first Slavic bishopric, later to become an Ohrid Archbishopric during the reign of Samuel, marked the beginning of the Macedonian Orthodox Church.

In the first half of the 10th century, the Bogomil teaching appeared in Macedonia. Bogomilism had grown into a large-scale popular movement and it spread through the Balkans and Europe. The 10th century also marked the beginning of the first Macedonian Slavic State, the Kingdom of Tsar Samuel (976-1014). Towards the end of the 10th century, with the weakening of the Eastern Roman Empire, and with the first Bulgarian Empire apart, Tsar Samuel created a strong Macedonian medieval kingdom with its center at Ohrid. Soon he conquered parts of Greece, Epirus, a large part of Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Dalmacia.

Ottoman period

Despite the rebellions, and the short-lived Serbian and Bulgarian occupations in the 13th and 14th centuries, Macedonia remained a Byzantine territory until the Ottoman Turks conquered it in 1389. The Turks firmly established themselves not only in Macedonia, but in all of the Southern Balkans and their rule would last for five centuries. The first significant resistance movements against the Turkish occupation were the Mariovo-Prilep Rebellion (1564 – 1565), and the Karposh Uprising in 1689. In the 18th century, under the pressure of the Greek Patriarch in Istanbul, the Turks abolished the Ohrid Archbishopric, which had been keeping alive the spiritual soul of the Macedonians for centuries since the times of Tsar Samuel.

The Slav Macedonian ideology during the second half of 19th century was at its inception. One of the first preserved accounts is an article The Macedonian question by Petko Slavejkov, published on 18 January 1871 in the “Macedonia” newspaper in Constantinople. In 1880, Gjorgi Pulevski published Slognica Rechovska in Sofia as an attempt at a grammar of the language of the Slavs who lived in Macedonia. Although he had no formal education, Pulevski published several other books, including three dictionaries and a collection of songs from Macedonia, customs, and holidays.

Macedonia in XX century

The first significant manifestation of Macedonian nationalist consciousness was the book “За Македонските Работи (Za Makedonckite Raboti – On Macedonian Matters, Sofia, 1903) by Krste Misirkov. In the book Misirkov advocated that the Slavs of Macedonia should take a separate way from the Bulgarians and the Bulgarian language. Misirkov considered that the term “Macedonian” should be used to define the whole Slavic population of Macedonia, obliterating the existing division between Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbians. The adoption of a separate “Macedonian language” was also advocated as a means of unification of the Ethnic Macedonians with Serbian, Bulgarian and Greek consciousness. On Macedonian Matters was written in the South Slavic dialect spoken in central Bitola-Prilep. This dialect was proposed by Misirkov as the basis for the future language, and, as Misirkov says, a dialect which is most different from all other neighboring languages (as the eastern dialect was too close to Bulgarian and the northern one too close to Serbian). Misirkov called this language Macedonian.

The next great figure of the Macedonian awakening was Dimitrija Čupovski, one of the founders of the Macedonian Literary Society, established in Saint Petersburg in 1902. In the period 1913–1918, Čupovski published the newspaper Македонскi Голосъ (Macedonian Voice) in which he and fellow members of the Petersburg Macedonian Colony propagated the existence of a Macedonian people separate from the Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs, and sought to popularize the idea for an independent Macedonian state.

After the Balkan Wars, following division of the region of Macedonia amongst the Kingdom of Greece, the Kingdom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Serbia, and after World War I, the idea of belonging to a separate Macedonian nation was further spread among the Macedonian population. The suffering during the wars, the endless struggle of the Balkan monarchies for dominance over the population increased the Macedonians’ sentiment that the institutionalization of an independent Macedonian nation would put an end to their suffering. On the question of whether they were Serbs or Bulgarians, the people more often started answering: “Neither Bulgar, nor Serb… I am Macedonian only, and I’m sick of war.”

The consolidation of an international Communist organization (the Comintern) in the 1920s led to some failed attempts by the Communists to use the Macedonian Question as a political weapon. In the 1920 Yugoslav parliamentary elections, 25% of the total Communist vote came from Macedonia, but participation was low (only 55%), mainly because the pro-Bulgarian IMRO organized a boycott against the elections. In the following years, the communists attempted to enlist the pro-IMRO sympathies of the population in their cause. In the context of this attempt, in 1924 the Comintern organized the filed signing of the so-called May Manifesto, in which independence of partitioned Macedonia was required. In 1925 with the help of the Comintern, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (United) was created, composed of former left-wing Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) members. This organization promoted in the early 1930s the existence of a separate ethnic Macedonian nation. This idea was internationalized and backed by the Comintern which issued in 1934 a resolution supporting the development of the entity. This action was attacked by the IMRO, but was supported by the Balkan communists. The Balkan communist parties supported the national consolidation of the ethnic Macedonian people and created Macedonian sections within the parties, headed by prominent IMRO (United) members. The sense of belonging to a separate Macedonian nation gained credence during World War II when ethnic Macedonian communist partisan detachments were formed. In 1943 the Communist Party of Macedonia was established and the resistance movement grew up. After the World War II ethnic Macedonian institutions were created in the three parts of the region of Macedonia, then under communist control, including the establishment of the People’s Republic of Macedonia within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ).

Following the collapse of Yugoslavia, the issue of Macedonian identity has again emerged. Nationalists and governments alike from neighboring countries (especially Greece and Bulgaria) espouse to the view that the creation of a Macedonian ethnicity is a modern, artificial creation. Such views have been seen by Macedonian historians to represent irredentist motives on Macedonian territory. Moreover, western historians are quick to point out that in fact all modern nations are recent, politically motivated constructs based on creation “myths”. The creation of Macedonian identity is “no more or less artificial than any other identity”. Contrary to the claims of Romantic nationalists, modern, territorially bound and mutually exclusive nation states have little in common with the large territorial or dynastic medieval empires; and any connection between them is tenuous at best. In any event, irrespective of shifting political affiliations, the Macedonian Slavs shared in the fortunes of the Byzantine commonwealth and the Rum millet and they can claim them as their heritage. Loring Danforth states similarly, the ancient heritage of modern Balkan countries is not “the mutually exclusive property of one specific nation” but “the shared inheritance of all Balkan peoples”.

In 1944 the Anti-Fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM) proclaimed the People’s Republic of Macedonia as part of the People’s Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. ASNOM remained an acting government until the end of the war. The Macedonian alphabet was codified by linguists of ASNOM, who based their alphabet on the phonetic alphabet of Vuk Stefanović Karadžić and the principles of Krste Petkov – Misirkov.

The new republic became one of the six republics of the Yugoslav federation. Following the federation’s renaming as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1963, the People’s Republic of Macedonia was likewise renamed, becoming the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. During the civil war in Greece (1946–1949) Macedonian communist insurgents supported the Greek communists. Many refugees fled to the Socialist Republic of Macedonia from there. The state dropped the “Socialist” from its name in 1991 when it peacefully seceded from Yugoslavia.

Independence

The country officially celebrates 8 September 1991 as Independence Day (Macedonian: Ден на независноста, Den na nezavisnosta), with regard to the referendum endorsing independence from Yugoslavia. The anniversary of the start of the Ilinden Uprising (St. Elijah’s Day) on 2 August is also widely celebrated on an official level as the Day of the Republic.

Macedonia remained at peace through the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s. Macedonia became a member state of the UN on 8 April 1993, eighteen months after its independence from Yugoslavia. It is referred to within the UN as “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, pending a resolution of the long-running dispute with Greece about the country’s name. However, most UN member countries have abandoned the provisional reference and have recognized the country as the Republic of Macedonia instead. These include four of the five permanent UN Security Council members—the United States, Russia, United Kingdom and the People’s Republic of China; several members of the European Union such as Bulgaria, Poland, and Slovenia; and over 100 other UN members. The UN has set up a negotiating process with a mediator, Matthew Nimetz, and the two disputed parties, Macedonia and Greece, to try to mediate the dispute. Negotiations continue between the two sides but have yet to reach any settlement of the dispute.

Macedonia is a member of the following international and regional organisations:  IMF (since 1992), WHO (since 1993), EBRD (since 1993), Central European Initiative (since 1993), Council of Europe (since 1995), OSCE (since 1995), SECI (since 1996), WTO (since 2003), CEFTA (since 2006), La Francophonie (since 2001).

In 2005, the country was officially recognized as a European Union candidate state.

In March 2009 the European Parliament expressed support for Macedonia’s EU candidacy and asked the EU Commission to grant the country a date for the start of accession talks by the end of 2009. The parliament also recommended a speedy lifting of the visa regime for Macedonian citizens. However, Macedonia has so far failed to receive a start date for accession talks as a result of the naming dispute. The EU’s stance is similar to NATO’s in that resolution of the naming dispute is a precondition for the start of accession talks.

HABITAT

HISTORY OF CITIES – HERITAGE

Lying as it does in a clearly marked central position on the Balkan Peninsula and owing to this unique position, Macedonia has always had a highly developed city life reflected in all the historical epochs from the ancient period to the present day. While the ancient cities of Skupi, Stobi, Heraclea, Linhidus and others now stand in ruins, it is not out of place to suppose that the tradition of highly developed forms of city life lived on in the human consciousness in the Middle Ages and in the modern times.

(add pictures) Location: Stobi

The oldest written sources about Stobi can be found in the work of Titus Livius, where he mentions the victory of Philip V, the King of Macedonia, over the Dardanians in 197 BC. According to the archeological data, the city was erected during the Hellenic period, but not long before the reign of Philip V.

During the research activities under several buildings in the central area of the later city, layers from the 3rd and 2nd century BC were discovered along with bronze objects from the classic and the archaic period, as well as some ceramic objects from the Neolith. It is presumed that the city was established in 359 BC. In 168 BC along with the Roman victory over the King Perseus, Macedonia was divided into four areas at which time Stobi became a trade center in the third area and subsequently Macedonia itself became a Roman province in the year 148 BC.

Heraclea Lyncestis is an ancient city, established by the Macedonian king Philip II of Macedonia, located on the south outskirt of the modern City of Bitola, at the foot of the Baba Mountain. It is named after Heracles, the mythical hero and father of the Macedonian royal Argead dynasty, while the adjective Lyncestis derives from the region where the city is located, and where the ancient Macedonian tribe of Lyncest lived. Situated in a fertile valley, in the North protected by the Baba Mountain and the river Siva Voda (Gray Water), Heraclea thrived and flourished into an important crossroad on the Via Ignatia road, which connected the City of Drach and the Bosporus. From Heraclea the road led diagonally to Stobi and then to Serdica (now Sofia in Bulgaria).

(add pictures) Location: Heraclea Lyncestis

The early byzantine architecture represents a continuation of the Roman architecture. The gradual development of its own culture, the creation of different architectural elements under the influence from the Middle East as well as the use of the Greek cross in the church architecture led to an increased development of a separate byzantine architecture. The main construction materials were bricks and stones. The domes of the constructions, especially those of the churches were getting higher and higher and the window decorations were also quickly developing. The main characteristics of byzantine architecture of churches at that time are square shaped cross that became dominant in the Slavic countries with the St. Sofia church in Ohrid and the cathedral of St. Sofia in Kiev.

The appearance of the towns of Macedonia has not been changed completely during the Turkish period. The Ottomans had no reason at all to destroy the towns and “build them anew” when they took them over. In fact Ottoman political, administrative and religious, or cultural institutions simply took over in the main the large buildings of the Christian town, adapting them to their purpose. Later, when new buildings were constructed to fulfill these functions, the Ottomans were just an investor. The Architectural tradition of Byzantium continued and the remaining, no less important part of city life, that of the residents, workers and merchants, was left completely unchanged to develop further. The Christian ethnic element was also continually present in a higher percentage than the Muslim element and when in the 19th century the Christians won political emancipation and economic prosperity, the physiognomy of the Macedonian town took on a new urban and architectural look. The Muslim architecture stood neglected and ruined, while the residential zone and business district (charsija) showed both physical expansion and growth in numbers. A town with a faceless residential area and a nucleus of large public buildings (a fortress, a mosque, a Turkish bath, an inn) was transformed into a widely developed residential area of architectural note with the new, primarily Christian, public functions, represented by churches, school, etc., and with a new business district which was both developed and built on solid material foundations.

The urban structure formed in the XIX century stays almost unchanged during the start of the XX century, by the start of the First Word War. However, great part of the urban architecture was devastated in the military attacks. On the other side, due to the impoverishment some of the most vivid examples of the old architectural style couldn’t receive the proper technical maintenance. After the Balkan Wars and in the period between the two World Wars, the construction methods and materials used in Macedonia lag behind the ones used in the Western European countries, in other words a traditional methods of construction are still used.

By the end of the 1920-ties, examples of modern architecture close to the Western European are noticeable. There is a priority of constructing objects and infrastructure that symbolize the power of the state apparatus, by constructing new modern streets in the main city centers. During the 1930-ties, with the increase of the population in the cities, a noticeable urban construction is on its way. After the period of the World War II, a new after war reconstruction of Macedonia is underway, with new effective and swift apartment and industrial capacities being build, rationally using the methods and technics of the Western European countries. During this period of development of the modern architecture in Macedonia, there is a lack of thorough analyses of the possibilities for transformation of the Macedonian architectural values into a traditional, yet modern concept.

In the middle of the 1960-ties Macedonia is under the influence of the economic reform that prohibits investment in constructing facilities that are of noncommercial use. This restriction is not directed only to the investments in residential facilities and the rebuilding of Skopje in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake of 1963 which gave the opportunity for exploring new architectonical ideas. The earthquake with a magnitude of 6,9 degrees according to the Richter scale, hit the capital on the 26th of July 1963, that destroyed nearly the entire city and resulted in more than 80,000 people without homes, plus 70,000 people living in what was left of their homes. There were estimations that due to the earthquake, more than 85% of the housing stock was lost and was reduced to 65% of its technical value and only 1 out of 40 homes remained adequate for living.

During this so-called Third period of development of modern architecture in Macedonia (after the 1963 Earthquake) when international help was concentrated towards Macedonia, the capital of the country Skopje became the “city of international solidarity”. The central city area of Skopje forms itself according the solution proposed by the famous Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, whose ideas offers complete development and relative isolation of the city center.

The urban development of Skopje is set with the planning regulation that dates back in 1914 when the first regulatory plan was developed and today’s panorama and the urban development of the city is manly a result of the planning documentation from 1965 (after the massive earthquake from 1963).The social-political transition in the 1990-ties creates unfavorable conditions in the construction industry. With the transformation of the land ownership, there is a complete change in the previously established socialist self-governed spatial planning. The prices of the construction land increase rapidly, and the realization of the new urban plans becomes more troublesome. In the process of privatization there were great number of large construction companies that went bankrupt, and new smaller ones emerged. The new construction companies think only about profit margins, thus maximizing the construction conditions, sometimes border lining misuse of the authorized permits. The newly constructed facilities present an overburden of the old city, which infrastructure has limited capacities. This way, an urban chaos was started; creating newly built individual and collective housing units, administrative-commercial and hotel-restaurant type of objects. Through a wide variety of projects, new possibilities for architectural advancement are revitalized. The gradual stabilization of the economic situation creates conditions for protection, restoration and revitalization of the construction legacy.

Today’s modern city of Skopje (with the General City Plan (GUP) developed in 2012) represents a longitudinal city with contemporary urban structure with all of the weaknesses that modern dynamic living style brings. With a characteristic post-earthquake expansion of the city, several large industrial capacities became part of the city’s urban core.

There is approximately 35% of the overall territory of the city dedicated for housing. This density, as an indicator for the quality of living in the city is low. Gross density is 146 people/hectare and Net density is 156 people/hectare. However, in the city center the density reaches 455 people/hectare.

URBAN HOUSING

Lying as it does in a clearly marked central position on the Balkan Peninsula and owing to this unique position, Macedonia has always had a highly developed city life reflected in all the historical epochs from the ancient period to the present day. While the ancient cities of Skupi, Stobi, Heraclea, Linhidus and others now stand in ruins, it is not out of place to suppose that the tradition of highly developed forms of city life lived on in the human consciousness in the Middle Ages and in the modern times.

stobi stobi1

Location: Stobi

The oldest written sources about Stobi can be found in the work of Titus Livius, where he mentions the victory of Philip V, the King of Macedonia, over the Dardanians in 197 BC. According to the archeological data, the city was erected during the Hellenic period, but not long before the reign of Philip V.

During the research activities under several buildings in the central area of the later city, layers from the 3rd and 2nd century BC were discovered along with bronze objects from the classic and the archaic period, as well as some ceramic objects from the Neolith. It is presumed that the city was established in 359 BC. In 168 BC along with the Roman victory over the King Perseus, Macedonia was divided into four areas at which time Stobi became a trade center in the third area and subsequently Macedonia itself became a Roman province in the year 148 BC.

Heraclea Lyncestis is an ancient city, established by the Macedonian king Philip II of Macedonia, located on the south outskirt of the modern City of Bitola, at the foot of the Baba Mountain. It is named after Heracles, the mythical hero and father of the Macedonian royal Argead dynasty, while the adjective Lyncestis derives from the region where the city is located, and where the ancient Macedonian tribe of Lyncest lived. Situated in a fertile valley, in the North protected by the Baba Mountain and the river Siva Voda (Gray Water), Heraclea thrived and flourished into an important crossroad on the Via Ignatia road, which connected the City of Drach and the Bosporus. From Heraclea the road led diagonally to Stobi and then to Serdica (now Sofia in Bulgaria).

heraclea1 heraclea2

Location: Heraclea Lyncestis

The early byzantine architecture represents a continuation of the Roman architecture. The gradual development of its own culture, the creation of different architectural elements under the influence from the Middle East as well as the use of the Greek cross in the church architecture led to an increased development of a separate byzantine architecture. The main construction materials were bricks and stones. The domes of the constructions, especially those of the churches were getting higher and higher and the window decorations were also quickly developing. The main characteristics of byzantine architecture of churches at that time are square shaped cross that became dominant in the Slavic countries with the St. Sofia church in Ohrid and the cathedral of St. Sofia in Kiev.

The appearance of the towns of Macedonia has not been changed completely during the Turkish period. The Ottomans had no reason at all to destroy the towns and “build them anew” when they took them over. In fact Ottoman political, administrative and religious, or cultural institutions simply took over in the main the large buildings of the Christian town, adapting them to their purpose. Later, when new buildings were constructed to fulfill these functions, the Ottomans were just an investor. The Architectural tradition of Byzantium continued and the remaining, no less important part of city life, that of the residents, workers and merchants, was left completely unchanged to develop further. The Christian ethnic element was also continually present in a higher percentage than the Muslim element and when in the 19th century the Christians won political emancipation and economic prosperity, the physiognomy of the Macedonian town took on a new urban and architectural look. The Muslim architecture stood neglected and ruined, while the residential zone and business district (charsija) showed both physical expansion and growth in numbers. A town with a faceless residential area and a nucleus of large public buildings (a fortress, a mosque, a Turkish bath, an inn) was transformed into a widely developed residential area of architectural note with the new, primarily Christian, public functions, represented by churches, school, etc., and with a new business district which was both developed and built on solid material foundations.

The urban structure formed in the XIX century stays almost unchanged during the start of the XX century, by the start of the First Word War. However, great part of the urban architecture was devastated in the military attacks. On the other side, due to the impoverishment some of the most vivid examples of the old architectural style couldn’t receive the proper technical maintenance. After the Balkan Wars and in the period between the two World Wars, the construction methods and materials used in Macedonia lag behind the ones used in the Western European countries, in other words a traditional methods of construction are still used.

By the end of the 1920-ties, examples of modern architecture close to the Western European are noticeable. There is a priority of constructing objects and infrastructure that symbolize the power of the state apparatus, by constructing new modern streets in the main city centers. During the 1930-ties, with the increase of the population in the cities, a noticeable urban construction is on its way. After the period of the World War II, a new after war reconstruction of Macedonia is underway, with new effective and swift apartment and industrial capacities being build, rationally using the methods and technics of the Western European countries. During this period of development of the modern architecture in Macedonia, there is a lack of thorough analyses of the possibilities for transformation of the Macedonian architectural values into a traditional, yet modern concept.

In the middle of the 1960-ties Macedonia is under the influence of the economic reform that prohibits investment in constructing facilities that are of noncommercial use. This restriction is not directed only to the investments in residential facilities and the rebuilding of Skopje in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake of 1963 which gave the opportunity for exploring new architectonical ideas. The earthquake with a magnitude of 6,9 degrees according to the Richter scale, hit the capital on the 26th of July 1963, that destroyed nearly the entire city and resulted in more than 80,000 people without homes, plus 70,000 people living in what was left of their homes. There were estimations that due to the earthquake, more than 85% of the housing stock was lost and was reduced to 65% of its technical value and only 1 out of 40 homes remained adequate for living.

During this so-called Third period of development of modern architecture in Macedonia (after the 1963 Earthquake) when international help was concentrated towards Macedonia, the capital of the country Skopje became the “city of international solidarity”. The central city area of Skopje forms itself according the solution proposed by the famous Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, whose ideas offers complete development and relative isolation of the city center.

The urban development of Skopje is set with the planning regulation that dates back in 1914 when the first regulatory plan was developed and today’s panorama and the urban development of the city is manly a result of the planning documentation from 1965 (after the massive earthquake from 1963).The social-political transition in the 1990-ties creates unfavorable conditions in the construction industry. With the transformation of the land ownership, there is a complete change in the previously established socialist self-governed spatial planning. The prices of the construction land increase rapidly, and the realization of the new urban plans becomes more troublesome. In the process of privatization there were great number of large construction companies that went bankrupt, and new smaller ones emerged. The new construction companies think only about profit margins, thus maximizing the construction conditions, sometimes border lining misuse of the authorized permits. The newly constructed facilities present an overburden of the old city, which infrastructure has limited capacities. This way, an urban chaos was started; creating newly built individual and collective housing units, administrative-commercial and hotel-restaurant type of objects. Through a wide variety of projects, new possibilities for architectural advancement are revitalized. The gradual stabilization of the economic situation creates conditions for protection, restoration and revitalization of the construction legacy.

Today’s modern city of Skopje (with the General City Plan (GUP) developed in 2012) represents a longitudinal city with contemporary urban structure with all of the weaknesses that modern dynamic living style brings. With a characteristic post-earthquake expansion of the city, several large industrial capacities became part of the city’s urban core.

There is approximately 35% of the overall territory of the city dedicated for housing. This density, as an indicator for the quality of living in the city is low. Gross density is 146 people/hectare and Net density is 156 people/hectare. However, in the city center the density reaches 455 people/hectare.

RURAL HOUSING

The migration of the population from the rural areas to the urban environment in the period from 1948 to 1988 resulted in enormous increases of the cities. In this period of centralized socialism there was an ideological urbanization that resulted in an intensive demographical growth of the cities. The problem was in the inappropriately designed and planned demographical growth of the cities that resulted in a number of illegally constructed buildings, which remains one of the major problems that the country is facing at the moment. Something similar happened in the period of the 90’s, but in this case the migration was directed from the smaller cities to Skopje. A result of these social changes saw an increase of unemployment and was coupled with a reduction in the capacities of the bigger industrial concerns where the larger part of the population was employed. This exacerbated the problems raised because of the unemployment and resulted in a lack of housing, infrastructure and other urban factors.

Compared with the countries in the region, Republic of Macedonia is one of the countries with the highest percentage of urban population. In the Republic of Macedonia more than 62% of the population is living in urban areas, largely in or around the five biggest cities: Skopje, Bitola, Prilep, Kumanovo and Tetovo. The density of the population is lower than the average in the European Union (114 people/km2).

Sans titre

Increase of the population in Macedonia (thousands of people) 1950 – 2030

What is particular for Macedonia is the lack of transitional forms of settlements between the cities and the villages. In fact, there are two different types of settlements, cities (80% of the total population) and villages (20% of the total population). Rural areas in Macedonia continue to shrink in size due to poor conditions of living and employment opportunities. The lack of connectivity among rural and urban areas and the weak infrastructure and organization acts as a catalyst for the village-city migration and only the villages in the nearby surroundings of Skopje have increase in their population growth due to the availability of construction land at affordable prices when compared with the city of Skopje.

HOUSING RIGHT

In Articles 25, 26, and 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia ratified in 1991 it is stated that (Article 25) “Each citizen is guaranteed the respect and protection of the privacy of his/her personal and family life and of his/her dignity and repute.” and Article 26 that states that each person in Macedonia is guaranteed their “…inviolability of their home”.

In order to ensure better conditions on the right of housing, the Government of the Republic of Macedonia adopted a “Housing Strategy of the Republic of Macedonia” with an action plan for its implementation.

The housing rights in the Republic of Macedonia, the conditions for leasing a state owned housing unit, as well as the rights and regulations of the homeowners and tenants are regulated with the Law on Housing. Some of the essential questions addressed with the Law on Housing are the creation of a special fund by the homeowners and tenants, as well as a separate fund established by the local municipal authorities and the state designated for temporary solution for the citizens in Macedonia living in social risk.

The principals that represent the core of the Law on Housing are:

  • Legality of the constructions,
  • Effectiveness in securing the housing unit and maintenance of the building and the commonly used space within the building,
  • Establishment of a legal body that will be responsible for the management of the buildings, as stated in the Law,
  • Regulating the rights and responsibilities of the state and the municipal authorities in the housing sector and transparency in regulating the contractual relations among homeowners and tenants.

The Law on Urban Planning, the Law on construction land, The Law on Housing, as well as the Law on the Privatization of state owned apartments, and the Law on Privatization of the already existing constructions directly influence the urban planning process, the construction, and ownership of homes.

The construction of the state owned apartment units is a legacy from the previous socialist system that, with the change of the system in the country turned into a market regulated industry, despite the efforts of the state to provide housing for the most vulnerable groups in the society. The beneficiaries of state owned apartments that had residential rights had the opportunity to buy out the apartments on very favorable terms. One of the consequences of this change was that illegal occupancy of properties and the resulting legal evictions became less common.

There is an ongoing process of privatization of the remaining lots of the state owned property which is a precondition for receiving ownership over the buildings. Alongside this market focus, the state builds collective apartment buildings only for the vulnerable groups of the society and thus complies with the constitutional law on social security.

The role of local self-government is the planning, creation and implementation of urban plans as a basis for selling the locations for construction of housing units, and the process is supported by the central government.

Some of the basic problems in the housing sector in Macedonia are:

  • Artificial housing suffice (more apartments per household from one side, high number of households without apartments on the other side);
  • Disproportion in the standards of housing, the degree of finalization, additional elements of the modern habitat like public institutions, sport and recreational areas;
  • Difficulties with the reconstruction of the substandard housing fund (lack of initiative and interest among the relevant city stakeholders and economic hardship of the owners);
  • Increase of the risk for safety of the objects due to the additional attachments build in different stages;
  • Occupying the land for housing in areas which are not planned for that purpose (such as area parks, river shore, service area, out of the limits of urban space, forests etc.)

FORCED EVICTION

LAND RIGHTS

LAND GRABBING

VULNERABLE GROUPS

Immigration and internally displaced people

By the implementation of the Geneva Refugee Convention the Republic of Macedonia offered to house 300,000 refugees of Albanian and Roma origin during the Yugoslavia conflict. Due to a variety of different reasons a large number of them stayed in the Republic of Macedonia. Many of them have secured their homes by the construction of non-formal housing.

The internal armed conflict, which took place in 2001, created a forced migration of Macedonian population from the villages with dominant ethnic Albanian population. Although the state offered resources for reconstruction of the destroyed homes of the displaced people, out of fear from possible future conflicts and direct threats from the majority Albanian population the most of these Macedonians have never returned to their homes. Many of them are still being accommodated in state shelter centers.

Roma

According the Census in 2002, 62,000 Roma people live in the Republic of Macedonia. The highest concentration of the Roma population is in Skopje, in the Municipality of Shuto Orizari. With over 13,000 Roma living there, this is the first and unique “Roma municipality” (the main population in the municipality are Roma) in the world, where the majority employees in the local government intuitions, including the mayor are with Roma ethnicity.

The density of the population in the Municipality of Shuto Orizari is 2,780 inhabitants per sq. km. The Roma as well as the other nationalities that live in the Republic of Macedonia have primary and secondary schools in their own mother languages, and the Roma language is an official language in the Municipality of Shuto Orizari.

Homeless and low income families

There are a small number of homeless people in Skopje and shelters for homeless have been built on several locations where they are provided with a warm meal, medical care, hygiene possibilities and a place to sleep.

Support by the State towards securing homes for these homeless people is demonstrating on several levels.

Children with no parental support, single mothers, families with many children and recipients of social help are a category of people, who cannot afford homes in the present market economy conditions. To overcome this, the state is building social apartments in towns on the territory of the whole country and based on certain criteria it gives these apartments to the people in need.

Low-income, young married couples are provided financial support by the state and subsidized loans in collaboration with the banks and the construction companies. One square meter in these buildings should cost less than 800 EUR.

The forced eviction out of homes is only conducted upon an administrative or court procedure of implementation of an urban plan.

SOME INTERESTING PRACTICES

Social and economic aspects

HOUSING MARKET

The state is developing market principles of supply and demand, but as it is the case with all developed and democratic countries through different intervention forms and with different instruments and measures, the problems of those citizens who cannot respond to the prevailing market conditions try to be resolved.

The building of a residential sector by the state during the year 2013 encompasses the following:

  • Construction of builds with residential apartments, which are to be sold;
  • Apartments for those, who do not have homes (young married couples, people with disabilities, single parents, single persons and others);
  • Construction of apartments for people in social risks and other vulnerable groups;
  • Purchase of already built apartments through implementation of the Law on De-Nationalisation and the Law on the Special Rights of the Members of the Security Forces of Republic of Macedonia and the Members of their families;
  • Completion and construction of buildings upon Decisions of the Macedonian Government.

During 2012 within the Annual Program on Construction and Maintenance, owned by Republic of Macedonia, the state built 2,470 residential units with a total area of 115,605.4 sq. meters, which comprised 609 residential units for the needs of vulnerable groups.

The average price of a residential area, according to the official statistical data, is between 800 and 850 EUR per m2. However, depending on the location and the equipment installed in the built, the price sometimes can be more than 2,000 EUR/m2. The spending power of the people is one of the main obstacles in home purchase, because the average Macedonian salary, paid in March 2013 (according to the State Statistical Office) was 347 EUR thus, there is a decrease in the trend of purchasing apartments in new buildings.

QUALITY OF HOUSING

The analysis of the current building stock in the Republic of Macedonia shows that the total number of apartments is 580,342, which compared to the number of households – 501,963 – shows an excess of 78,379 residential apartments. Some of the statistical data show that the average residential area per apartment is 70,71m2, providing a 21,09m2 residential area per individual with an average number of 3,35 residents per housing unit.

The state has set up a residential policy to alleviate homelessness and improve the living conditions of the socially endangered categories, as well as to provide incentives for the homeowners to invest in their homes. Some of the goals of the state residential policy are:

  • Securing an apartment for all households;
  • Aseismic construction;
  • Replacement of the substandard building stock by a new buildings, reconstruction and revitalization of the outdated buildings;
  • Liberalization of the estate market;
  • Construction of social housing units.

Due to the fact that the state has made decisive steps to implement the residential policy, a recent study has been conducted whereas the following projected residential needs were concluded.

Number of citizens in 2020 2,225,000
Number of households in 2020 646,283
New apartments as replacement of old ones 69,060
New apartments created upon annulment of the residential units’ deficit 414
New apartments based on increase of citizens’ number 144,320
Total number of apartments to be built by 2020 213,794
Total number of apartments in 2020 725,076

There is an apparent need of newly build housing units, that coupled with some of the initiatives for purchasing and reconstructing homes can increase the quality of life of the people in Macedonia.

Illegal housing

The Study on Illegally Built Buildings and Illegal Construction has been conducted within the third component (development of land policy) of the project for establishing an estate cadaster and registration (2005-2009), supported by the World Bank. According to the study, there is an assessment made on the illegally built buildings in the country, but according to the officials’ statements, the estimation is about 350,000.

According to the National Strategy for Poverty Eradication, 20% of the urban population in the Republic of Macedonia lives in the substandard areas, meaning 11% of the urban structure is substandard housing of which most of these buildings have been built contrary to the urban plans, which mean that they are illegal. The study presents the important elements of the substandard housing as well as the fact that the larger share of the substandard housing are illegal buildings with no proof on ownership, and at the same time they are insecure (25%). It is surprising that the residents in these settlements are satisfied, but nonetheless this represents the individuals’ motivation for their existence.

ROLE OF PUBLIC AUTHORITIES

The state creates policies on steering of the processes, which involves construction of buildings with an aim of lowering the market price per square meter in residential areas. The defined limit of 800 EUR per m2 enables loan support from specialized funds with subsidized conditions. Macedonia as a UN member established the National Committee of UN Habitat, by implementation of the UN Program for Human Settlements an acts as the Government’s advising body. Local self-government is responsible for the urban development within their borders as well as for spatial planning and construction of communal infrastructure.

Cultural aspects – Religious – Symbolic

The Byzantine heritage has influenced the housing culture and modeling of the space evident in both Oriental and Macedonian houses. Nonetheless, the Macedonians never totally relinquished their European style of housing and were always able to adapt to newly emerging needs. Thus, the Macedonian house represents a transition from the Oriental to the modern house.

Traditionally in the Republic of Macedonia buildings are constructed out of brick/stone/concrete/steel and the population prefers individual housing. There are special characteristics that separate the buildings according to the religious or ethnic background of their residents. Similarities however, between the Macedonian and modern house lie in the modern group plan and elevation, in the independence if their inner disposition of rooms from the wall structure (an independence facilitated by the timber framework construction), in the architecture of the outer rooms, in the modeling of the house above its supporting walls, in the harmony of architecture with nature, in the desire for a view and in the built-in furniture. The Macedonian house is a house for everybody; its chief attribute is its human scale.

The Republic of Macedonia has a rich cultural heritage in the arts, architecture, poetry and music with many ancient, protected religious sites, which have influenced Macedonian music styles developed under strong influence from byzantine church music. Macedonia belongs to the countries with the best-preserved frescos; many of them date from 11th to 16th century. There are several thousand square meters of protected frescos, out of which many are in very good condition and represent the state of the art work of the Macedonian school of church painting.

In Macedonia the past meets the present with its ancient architecture in the shape of monasteries and churches standing in contrast to the new ultra-modern architectural styles. Almost all Macedonian monasteries built in different periods, and especially those built between the 11th and 16th century are well preserved today. The Macedonian collection of icons, especially the ones from Ohrid, is one of the most valuable collections worldwide. Indeed, after the Sinai and the Moscow collection of icons, the Macedonian collection is the third most valuable in the Christian-orthodox world. From a byzantine-logical perspective it is a unique one.

The Corbusier’s definition that architecture is an “important play of the volume under the Sun” refers to the Macedonian architecture and it is actually its most important characteristic.

rofmhouse rofmhouse1

Traditional Macedonian house

Macedonia’s beauty and attraction is not only the nature – the lakes, mountains, forests and the fields, but also the quality of the works of the Macedonians from the past, built on architectural works. The Macedonian architectonical treasure and the quality of the traditional architecture consist of works with different architectural expressions and many housing types with gradual nuances. The old masons knew how to create works on which the highest ambitions of today’s modern architecture are built and it was these principles, which impressed the famous Corbusier during his trip through Macedonia. Actually, the great progress of the contemporary architecture Corbusier built on the Macedonian architectural expression, which was itself based on natural construction materials and their equivalent elements – the Sun, the sky and the green land.

The miracle structure of this traditional architecture in Ohrid, Veles, Kratovo, Tetovo, Krushevo, Novo Selo, Kichinica, Bitola, Prilep, Brezno, Galichnik and Janche is interconnected with the gray rocks, green forests, clear waters, the sky’s blue, the star nights and the Moon. The color of this architecture is the one of nature’s landscape; the color of the roof is the color of the hill, so nature and architecture make an organic integrity.

Environmental aspects

The standards and the directives, which refer to environment protection and public health, are the basis for architectural planning of residential buildings. Energy efficiency as well as determining appropriate construction material standards is an obligation during the planning and construction of buildings.

Pollution from residential housing

The annual CO2 emission in Macedonia is 5.5 metric tons per capita, close to the per capita levels of some industrially developed EU countries (such as Hungary and France) and higher than all of the other SEE countries. Compared with the fact that Macedonia has one of the smallest industries and economies in the region (globally 94th by the size of nominal GDP) – Macedonia’s contribution to greenhouse emission is extremely high (72nd contributor by greenhouse gas emissions per capita). Therefore, as residential consumption is the major consumer of energy, interventions in residential energy efficiency (EE) represent a huge opportunity for decreasing CO2 emissions. Coal has very limited use in district heating, while natural gas is not available in the residential areas. A process of gasification (natural gas) has been planned for some urban centers starting in 2012; however this is still uncertain.

Bibliography & Sitography

MAJOR PROBLEMS BY CIVIL SOCIETY

CLAIMS MAJOR CIVIL SOCIETY

With the new Law on Housing that was enacted on the 01.04.2012, homeowners are responsible for the maintenance of the entire building, the common spaces and any elevator. The law offers two options for management of the buildings: 1. registering a homeowners association (HOA) or 2. contracting a licenced company from the registry of Regulatory Commission for Housing to manage the maintenance of the buildings.

According to the National Strategy for the Reduction of Poverty and Social Exclusion of the Republic of Macedonia, “housing represents a complex phenomenon in strong correlation with other forms of social marginalization. The three basic obstacles to decent housing – economic, cultural and legal – are at the same time in relation with the individuals facing social exclusion as well as the housing areas which are marginalized due to a plethora of social circumstances“.

There are several relevant government institutions that address housing; however, there are very few civil society organizations that are addressing the housing question. Some of the relevant institutions and their duties and responsibilities are listed below.

Regulatory Commission on Housing

The Regulatory Commission on Housing is a government body that manages the implementation of the legislation on housing and takes care of the quality assessment of the housing needs of the population, according to modern standards for quality housing, protection of the environment and nature. One of the basic duties of the commission is to issue, change and revoke licences for management of buildings, for which purpose it has created a register of licenced companies for the management of the buildings.

Licensed companies for management of the buildings

Given the new change in the legislation, every building that has 4 or more apartment units has to be maintained by the HOA or a specialized registered company. There are more than 30 active companies that have been registered / licensed to perform management and maintenance of the buildings, among other obligations that are specified in the law.

Ministry of Labor and Social Policy

The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy is a government institution working in the field of housing by implementing strategies and working in the field of housing, with special focus on social housing. The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy works on alleviating the risks posed by the lack of appropriate hosing solutions and the lack of opportunities to improve housing conditions of the vulnerable groups of citizens in Macedonia. The regulatory framework in the Republic of Macedonia provides very few Programmes for supporting poor households in securing their own homes.

CIVIL SOCIETY ACTORS

The Civil Society has been active more in the field of advocacy within the housing sector. Habitat for Humanity Macedonia is the only housing organisation that tackles the individual and collective housing issues by providing simple, decent and affordable housing solutions for low income families living in substandard conditions. The organisation cooperates closely with relevant organizations from the civil society sector when addressing the housing needs of a particular group. Habitats for Humanity Macedonia activities include building and financing homes, advocacy, strengthening capacities and developing communities. As an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International since 2004, Habitat for Humanity Macedonia has supported more than 3,405 families in housing improvement and 3,080 in housing support services, contributing to the 600,000 partner families worldwide.

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