Professor Dragan Georgiev from the Institute for Public Health estimates that the world record levels of winter time air pollution in the capital Skopje cause between 850 and 1.250 deaths each year. And yet, Environment Protection Minister Sadula Duraku insists that resolving the problem is too expensive and would cost hundreds of millions of euros.

If annual mortality reaches 10.000 in the whole of Macedonia, using reference estimates we can calculate that some 20 percent of them can be attributed to air pollution. Out of the 5.000 deaths in Skopje each year, between 850 and 1.250 are caused by the pollution. The same ratio applies to other cities, where air pollution causes between 20 and 30 percent of all annual deaths, Georgiev told Alfa TV in an interview.

The air pollution is largely caused by the use of wood and all sorts of solid waste, including worn out car tyres, to heat homes over the winter. The lack of a natural gas supply and distribution network leaves Macedonians with few alternatives to the polluting fuels for heating.
Asked by Alsat TV about his plans to tackle the problem, Minister Sadula Duraku said that he doesn’t have the budget to do much.

To reduce the air pollution in the country would require hundreds of millions of euros. With the budget we have it is impossible to make all the necessary steps to reduce the pollution, Duraku said.

Best known as the guerrilla commander from the 2001 war who cut off the water supply to the city of Kumanovo in the peak of summer, Duraku recently set aside 1.5 million EUR for this burning problem and told citizens they can sue him if they want to.