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article imageMacedonia targets 'grandiose' neo-classical monuments

By AFP     Nov 24, 2017 in Travel

A massive urban makeover by Macedonia's former conservative government that covered the capital Skopje with neo-classical monuments will be reviewed by the country's new ruling party.

The controversial revamp, dubbed Skopje 2014, includes a giant statue of Alexander the Great, bronze Macedonian heroes and lions, facades of ancient columns and even a triumphal arch resembling Paris's Arc de Triomphe.

In Skopje, it was either adored or blasted as "grandiose and outdated".

Launched by former prime minister Nikola Gruevski, the project was initially planned to cost 80 million euros ($95 million) but local media has reported the price is now up to 560 million euros.

"Within the central government, a commission was formed to review" the project, said Social Democrat Petre Silegov, Skopje's new mayor.

The commission will review how the project was implemented and look for possible irregularities, said the mayor, whose party defeated Gruevski's VMRO-DPMNE party at local elections last month.

The mayor said he had already ordered two replicas of pirate ships -- which are also restaurants -- to be taken down "for security reasons" on the Vardar river in the city's centre.

Silegov added that he had already ordered the removal "for security reasons" of two boats-turned-restaurants, replicas of galleys and imitation pirate ships on the Vardar river in the city centre.

Former leader Gruevski said the new authorities "should know that once it is back to power, VMRO-DPMNE will redo everything they destroy, dislocate and rename".

"This will only waste tax payers' money in order to gain short-term political points and will bring new conflicts and divisions," Gruevski said in a written statement received by AFP.

In June, after a long political crisis, the Social Democrats took power in snap election -- after spending 10 years in opposition

After a long political crisis in the country, Social Democrat Zoran Zaev became the country's prime minister after snap elections in spring.

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