Dr. Elizabeta Kancheska-Milevska, Minister of Culture, dedicated herself in the past eight years to promotion, preservation and support of the Macedonian cultural heritage. She speaks of her current projects and objectives as a Minister.
The European Times: What are the roles and objectives of the Ministry of Culture in the Republic of Macedonia?
Dr. Elizabeta Kancheska-Milevska: The national culture interest is to secure availability of the principal values of creation and cultural heritage for all citizens of the state. In that respect, the Ministry of Culture is creating its long-term and short-term priorities based on which the projects in the Annual programme shall be supported. We are exclusively working on the principle of openness to all good initiatives and projects of the national institutions, the associations of citizens and the individuals. The Ministry of Culture publishes a competition on an annual basis for supporting projects of national interest; it is an open competition and everyone can apply with a project that one considers will contribute to the development and promotion of culture at both national and international level. Only in this manner, through openness and transparency, we can ensure quality which we are obliged to offer the citizens. There are significant investments in the culture domain in our country. In the times of economic crisis, when many countries cut the assets for support of activities in the culture area, the Government of the Republic of Macedonia increased the budget of the Ministry of Culture whose programme includes a great number of capital projects.
The European Times: Could you indicate some of the projects your Ministry has recently completed?
Dr. Elizabeta Kancheska-Milevska: In the past few years, the Republic of Macedonia, as never before, has realized capital investments in all segments of culture. Parts of the projects were defined in the programme of the Government, and most of them were included in the Annual Programme of the Ministry of Culture. Significant parts of these projects are already completed and operational. The new Macedonian National Theatre, the Theatre in Veles, the Memorial House of Mother Teresa, the Memorial House of the Macedonian music legend Toshe Proeski, the Museum of Macedonian Struggle, the Archaeological Museum have been opened. It is a small part of the capital investments we are realising throughout Macedonia. I shall also mention the project for renewal of facades in the old city cores by which we aim to preserve the authentic old city architecture in the cities of the country. We have made efforts to reconstruct the museum exhibits in each city, so that the museum would reflect the cultural heritage of each city. I shall also emphasise the capital projects in the field of publishing, the competition for foreign publishers which enables the worldwide affirmation of the Macedonian literary creation, and many other initiatives and projects. All these projects and investments are of great importance for our culture, for its advancement, as well as for the cooperation and exchange with other states.
The European Times: Could you please elaborate in more details some of the current projects of the Ministry?
Dr. Elizabeta Kancheska-Milevska: We are currently intensively working on the construction of the hew hall for the Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra, reconstruction of the Albanian Theatre, construction of the Turkish Theatre, restoration of the St. Clement University. We have also launched projects which shall enable the opening of new theatres in Skopje through public private partnership.
One of the more significant ongoing investments is the construction of the new Universal Hall which shall have capacity of 4000 seats and shall operate as a congress centre, a venue for international events and meetings. Of course, we are not neglecting the projects which are included in the Annual Programme of the Ministry of Culture, and which are aimed towards encouraging creativity and protection and promotion of the rich cultural heritage that we as a country possess. I shall also mention another important project pertaining to the film-related activity – the construction of a new movie studio, as well as the measure adopted by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, i.e. the subsidising of movie companies which shall execute their productions in the Republic of Macedonia.
The European Times: Which steps are being undertaken by the Ministry so as to enrich the tourist offers in Skopje for the visitors interested in local culture?
Dr. Elizabeta Kancheska-Milevska: All of the museums we have built in the previous period, as well as the other facilities, are aimed towards realisation of the culture and its promotion. It is my pleasure to indicate that the number of visitors of our institutions, as well as of our country, is increasing on a daily basis. In addition to these projects, we are also creating new tourist attractions in the old Skopje core, such as restaurants with authentic Macedonian cuisine. We are also opening souvenir shops, and other capacities within and around the Old Skopje Bazaar and the Stone Bridge, thereby connecting the new and old part of the City.
The European Times: Why is the Government of the Republic of Macedonia strongly dedicated to culture?
Dr. Elizabeta Kancheska-Milevska: Culture is our worldwide identification landmark; it separates us, on one side, but on the other side, it unites us with other cultures and traditions in the European cultural area. The Republic of Macedonia has a remarkably rich cultural heritage from all periods, and it is our objective to duly preserve and promote this cultural heritage which is part of the world cultural heritage. In that respect, I would like to point out that the Government of the Republic of Macedonia is strongly dedicated to the affirmation of the Macedonian culture beyond the borders of our country, since we believe that in this manner we can enable the visible positioning of our country on the world map, as productive member of both the European and the international community. We are proud of all efforts and projects we have realised in the past period; projects that celebrate the Macedonian past and Macedonian culture. I shall mention, for example, the Project Skopje 2014, for which the views were divided. I am convinced that time shall show the importance and significance of this project for both the Macedonian culture and for the Republic of Macedonia as a tourist potential, whereas the benefits will be seen by the future generations.
The European Times: What is your message to the potential partners and tourists on why they should visit the Republic of Macedonia?
Dr. Elizabeta Kancheska-Milevska: The Ministry of Culture always cordially welcomes the international partnerships in culture projects, and we are also planning the realisation of many more ambitious initiatives in the field of culture. I shall mention another successful example – the successful cooperation between the London Globe Theatre and the Bitola National Theatre which resulted into a festival to be held this year in the Republic of Macedonia for the third time. In that respect, we must encourage and support such partnerships and cooperation and to jointly contribute to the enriching of the European and world cultural mosaic. For the foreign tourists, my message is: “Visit Macedonia, the country that makes the world more beautiful”.