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On to Macedonia amid folklore and conflicts

Macedonia Skopje | November 02, 2009 06:24
On the road from Salonicco to Skopje, the coach carrying the World March of the Balkans was welcomed by mayors, councillors for culture and hundreds of children and teachers in the towns of the Republic of Macedonia. The march, organised by the humanist organisation, World Without Wars, this time passed through Bitola, Resen, Ohrid, Struga, Gostivar, Tetovo and Skopje.

After a truly folkloristic reception at the border, with the traditional “bread and salt” welcoming ceremony and speeches, songs and traditional dancing, the exchange of greetings and gifts followed, along with a commitment to build a peaceful future together. The mayors of all the towns, along with representatives from Macedonia, Turkey, Bosnia Herzegovina, Greece and Kosovo, all part of the base team, made public declarations in support of that commitment.

In particular, at Ohrid – a delightful town, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO – the members of the World March team had the chance to tell of their experiences in the places the March had already visited, including the territories of Palestine, Israel, South Korea and Japan.

During the same evening, members of the Saints Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje’s Faculty of Philosophy, and of the Institute for Defence and Peace studies, gave their support to the World March, in particular its demand for the withdrawal of troops from the occupied territories and the rejection of war as a means of conflict resolution – both issues that are currently of particular concern in the Republic of Macedonia.

Professor Biljana Vankovska, quoting Howard Zinn, held that it is not possible to remain still on a moving train, and that “neutrality in the face of violence is morally unacceptable.” Drawing inspiration from the speeches of Martin Luther King against the Vietnam war, she added that the citizens of Macedonia would like to be part of Europe, and to be free. She went on to express the hope that, once having obtained their liberty, those who did not yet enjoy the same rights would not be forgotten. She concluded with the hope that, regarding the war in Iraq, everyone would face up to their responsibility for what was happening there. The presence of Macedonian troops in Iraq was due to the fact that the government believes it will help its entry into NATO, but the price to be paid was truly too high.

During a later informal meeting, Professor Vankovska and the Greek members of the base team agreed to subsequently draw up a declaration concerning the dispute, still underway, over the name ‘Macedonia,’ which has been a source of tension with Greece since the Republic of Macedonia declared independence in 1991.

The main Macedonian leg, in the capital, Skopje, was organised by the city’s Sports Union, with the contribution of the Municipality and the support of a number of local associations, including the groups, Mother Teresa in Skopje and Youth Can.

The March continued alongside No Global activists who were demanding the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and ended with a concert entirely dedicated to the marchers, with the surprise participation of the Agushevi Orchestra, formerly of Bregovic.

Pictures 2nd day:

2nd Video:

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